Make the internet work for your small business and leverage your greatest marketing advantage – your location.
Local businesses have marketing advantages over regional and national competitors. In this world of smart phones which answer internet searches based on where you’re standing, being found is the key to small business marketing success. Following is a high-level description of the internet landscape and where you can apply leverage. None of this is rocket science to understand, but please realize that integrating your overall effort makes each piece more effective.
1. Your website is the center of your local marketing universe
Dentist, plumber, baker or mechanic; your online marketing effort starts with your website. This is the center of your local small business marketing effort and the most important. All of your other marketing programs exist to drive traffic to, and through, your website. If everything works and someone finds your site after a search, will they have a positive impression of your services and your business? Is your story presented in clear, descriptive text and interesting photos? Is there a way to request information? Are you sure it works?
2. Search optimization tuned for local businesses is critical
If your business is defined by it’s location or a geographic radius, being found isn’t as important as being found near your location. Optimizing your website for both the visible text and the underlying code must prioritize location and your service area. Being found in Phoenix doesn’t matter if you’re in Wichita. Your website text must say where you are as well as what you do.
3. Registration with location-based directories puts you on the map
Does Google My Business know your company exists? Bing Places for Business? There are over 50 directories which can show where your business is located, what you have to offer and how to find you. Some of these listings will exist whether you created them or not. Take advantage of these opportunities, but be sure that all of the listings have name / address / contact information which is accurate and identical.
4. Social media reinforces your online marketing
Don’t expect a Facebook page to be the key to business success. Used properly, it can however be an important part of your overall effort. Take the time to create a business page on Facebook. This allows your customers to provide reviews and feedback, while allowing you the chance to decide what is shown. Facebook is also searchable with people looking for local businesses. Keywords and descriptions are just as important as on your website. Keep in mind – visitors to your website can “like” or “share” your Facebook page and visitors to your Facebook page can be sent to your website. Instagram, Pinterest, Google + and Twitter should all be considered based on your business and customers.
5. In person promotion of online efforts is up to you
The quickest way to kickstart your internet marketing is to ask your customers for help. Reviews by satisfied customers are internet gold and will appear for years after their creation. Some people won’t contact a business without any online reviews. Just as importantly, a bad review will be diluted by a greater number of positive comments about you and their experiences. Don’t forget to promote your social media pages.