1. Google Local Business Center Promotion
Having your business found in the Google local business Center when prospects are using search engines to find businesses like yours is likely single most important source of traffic that you can convert to a desirable call to action such as picking up the phone call you to set an appointment or buy that pizza.
There are many factors that are involved in the search engine like Google looks at when it decides whether or not display local business listing for business. It really comes down to two major factors, and those are citations and reviews. Considering how traditional businesses have evolved and grown over the years, word-of-mouth advertising and quality exposure are the two key ingredients to success. Google and the rest of the search engines have merely mimicked these two key ingredients into a digital form. For example, a review of the business on the Internet is very similar to local people talking about that business, word-of-mouth advertising. Citation by local publication such as a newspaper and then printed online is the type of exposure that will help build any local business in the off-line or online world.
While there are likely dozens of factors to influence the rankings of your local business Center results, there is a small handful of factors that represent the greatest weight in your ranking. Click the link to learn more about the on the page triggers for results with local businesses.
2. Have a Website
While It Is Very Possible for Any Local Business to promote themselves using Internet without a website, it is definitely not recommended. Likely the most important point when considering this recommendation is how the lack of a website will radically affect perception of your business. These days websites are very inexpensive when considering the return you can get on that website.
Websites for small local businesses have been resisted for the last 15 years and have been perceived as a digital online brochure. In fact, we keep Wikipedia defines a business website is a website used to provide background information about business, organization or service. This is completely wrong. A business website should be intended to provide interaction and value to all the different audience members that would frequent that website. For example, customers of local businesses frequently visit websites to achieve called action, such as make an inquiry, find the phone number, ask a question, look for information, provide comments or testimonials. It is not difficult to build a high-quality website for a local business that is not over the top, will interact with the different audience groups visiting that site and maximize the conversion on that website to a call to action. Any local businesses that are considering marketing themselves on the Internet should consider having their website looked at by a professional to provide advice on how to improve the conversion. Consider a marketing agency like the CCS, they provide free website assessments.
3. Promote that Website
Think of your website as the race car and the promotion as the driver. Until you put a driver in the drivers seat, and hit the gas, your website will not perform at all. It is a clear fact that the search engine will drive more traffic to a website in every other possible medium combined. As of writing this post, Google has over 85% of the US market share in terms of searches for local businesses. It is also a fact that 43% of all searches on Google are of local nature (comScore). 61% of these searches result in an off-line purchase (comScore). Bottom line, you need to be found in the right places on Google in order to promote your local business online.
There are likely hundreds of different methods to be able to promote the business website online which include search engine optimization, local business results optimization, pay per click advertising, banner advertising, joint ventures, e-mail marketing social media marketing to name a few. While search engine optimization is likely more expensive than the website itself, this is a service that literally promote your website enough that Google will rank your website very high on the front page for your targeted keywords. You cannot pay Google for this.
Just like in the off-line world, online marketing follows the same principles. Efforts need to be put forth to create transparency and exposure for the business. By exposing a local businesses website on other websites and engaging in online conversations relating to that business, will create this exposure. Some experts say the website needs inbound links. Think of a link to your website like handing out your business card. You can hand out 100 business cards at the local mall or handout 20 business cards at your local Chamber of Commerce. Each scenario might cost you three hours of your time. In almost every case, it is likely that handing out 20 business cards at the local Chamber of Commerce will yield you greater return on your investment of time. The Internet is no different. By exposing your website, or getting links from other websites, it is absolutely not the quantity of links. It is definitely the quality of where that business is exposed.
4. Targeted E-Mail Marketing Campaign
It has been said by many experts to quality e-mail marketing campaigns result in the greatest return on investment for any online marketing efforts. Never in the history of marketing have we ever seen a medium that yields a return greater than $40 per dollar spent.
In our opinion, every local business should have processes and systems in place to acquire a quality e-mail marketing following. By putting efforts forward to create a quality unique list, over the years that business has an asset that is highly valuable. By spending a few hours per month that business can communicate a message to a large targeted audience like they’ve never been able to do before. The cost of creating each e-mail is merely the time invested in creating an e-mail and then hitting the send button. This can be done as many times as one would like.
A quality targeted e-mail marketing campaign helps build trust, loyalty and authority towards the local business. There are many opportunities to be able to offer a unique selling proposition for the local business with e-mail marketing, much more than national chains.
5. Get Social
For the last two years we have seen significant growth and buzz with companies like Twitter and Facebook. For the most part Facebook and twitter are being used for consumer applications not so much for local businesses. It is also argued that in the beginning of 2010 there is still a lot of speculation on how these Web 2.0 properties are going to help local businesses. We don’t believe that the question is if, but the question is how.
Consider the facts of human nature. We are social beings. We thrive on evolution. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, social media is really the very first property on the Internet that addresses our second most fundamental need of human beings. This need is called in need of safety, were humans require security of body, employment, a rally, the family and property. The next need is the need of love and belonging of friendship, family and intimacy. This is likely the most fundamental basic reason why these websites have thrived in the last couple of years as these websites have addressed deeper human needs.
Every business sell something. Every business has relationships involved with it. These relationships are with other humans in and now technology has facilitated a new medium to communicate and receive this love, belonging and safety. It is not surprising the adoption rate that Americans have for their beloved Facebook. In fact, this is true globally. Therefore there is no question that social media plays a part in business transactions.
There are many theories and strategies on how to promote a business using Web 2.0 properties. While many of these strategies are currently unproven, the business still needs to be present and interact. Every local business should have a twitter profile that is used weekly, company blog to communicate messaging to their followers, Facebook presence with a Facebook page and key players in the business should be on LinkedIn.
6. Set up Joint Promotions with Other Businesses
One of the most important words in the business dictionary is called leverage. Someone once told me once that there is three ways to acquire new business. Get new customers. Get your customers to spend more frequently. Get your customers to spend more with each transaction. The first is the most difficult in the area that most people spend their time in to grow their business. A smart business owner figures out ways to leverage their existing customers to find new business opportunities.
There are many businesses in around your area. Or maybe associations in your industry. You might deal with other vendors or have different suppliers. The fact is many of these businesses are targeting the same customers that you are and have a different customer base then you. There are many different ways that one can leverage promotions with other businesses or associations to drive business your way.
7. Constantly Drive
Marketing any business online or off-line is exactly like paddling upstream. The moment you stop paddling you go back quicker than you were moving forward. Very rarely have businesses ever been built slightly marketed and continue to grow without the leaders of that business continuing to push and move that business continuing to innovate.
Once local business is built different marketing vehicles and systems to drive transparency and exposure, that business must continue to do that. If this transparency and exposure dries up, the Internet as a whole or more importantly the search engines, will consider that business they’ll and begin to drop their rankings. Sending out e-mails to prospects and stopping and starting again has significant impact on the business, as this is perceived as sloppiness and being unorganized. Starting a social campaign and being inaccessible for several days at a time indicates a lack of commitment. These are all very important perceptions your prospects and customers should not and cannot have about a business.
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