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Local Marketing – Will Your Business Survive?

Local Marketing is today’s topic here at Click and Mortar Blog headquarters. And when I say local, I mean local as in 1 to 50 miles of your location.

The web has forever changed the landscape how we as small business owners market to our prospects and customers. This landscape is further changed as more and more small businesses struggle to figure out how to integrate their offline efforts with online channels.

Add to the confusion the rapid growing mobile and video sectors and media sales people yelling, “we’ve got what you need and you need to buy from us” and you have one big info overload headache coming on.

With all the changes coming down the pike, it’s really amazing that anyone can keep up. For a local business owner, manager or even hired gun like a business consultant, you need to be on top of all this stuff and if you’re not then your business’ reputation might be suffering.

Not only are we needing to embrace the weavers of the web, but we also have to be really concerned with our reputations, because the consumer now has the power to praise or persecute.

It’s no longer just the better business bureau but now citation sites and reviews are becoming the norm with Google + Local, Yahoo and Bing filling in the gaps really fast.

Much harder it is today for businesses to get away with lousy service and quality issues because their mishaps, shortcomings, oversights and lack of attention to the customer will forever be shown for all to see.

So you can hopefully see how important it is to have a solid foundation in your business and this way your reputation won’t haunt you.

With all that said, let’s talk turkey and get down to the bottom of all this.

Local marketing is no longer just offline media as in newspaper, radio, television, direct mail and billboards. Local marketing has merged both offline and online channels which means you as the business owner need to narrow your focus and engage your target market.

Engaging your target market means that your efforts need to be more focused than ever before with an eye out for what people are saying about you.

This brings me to the topic of reputation.

If your reputation stinks, then you are going to have a tough time growing your small business and all the local marketing you can do will be like swimming up river. No longer can you leave a customer hanging or in a lurch as citation and reviews have become the norm, allowing the consumer(and business) control over what they really think about your business.

If on the other hand your reputation is good to great, then you’re off to the races. Because all you need to do is maintain, monitor and continue to grow by using positive reviews to boost awareness and increase traffic.

So what can you do about it?

1. First work on your foundation. Get all the cracks fixed, leaks plugged and foundation in solid shape. Do whatever it takes to make your small business’ foundation a solid structure that can support your sales and local marketing efforts.  This means from the person answering the phone, to those that answer email and deal with live customers, patients and clients, it’s very important that a positive, uplifting message is left for all.

2. Set up a system for capturing customer reviews. In some cases you might direct people to Google. In others you might direct them to Yelp, Kudzu, Insiderpages or a specialty site that pertains to your industry. No matter how you do this, it’s important to continually work on getting positive reviews and if a bad review ever shows up you can deal with it immediately.

So build a solid foundation and then engage the people who come across your doorstep. Treat people right and the reviews they leave you will help build and reinforce your existing foundation. 

Until next time.

Dave Krygier
Publisher 

 

 

 


Local Marketing and the Future of Your Small Business

I recently attended a conference that was focused on all things that had to do with Local Marketing and the web as we know it right now, and what’s to come in the near future. It was three days of speakers, videos and PowerPoint presentations along with lots of networking. Which was worth the trip alone…hint, hint, hint.

Of all the topics that were presented, three hit home with me and today I am going to share with you one of those three. It was titled ‘Local Social’ and it is what local marketers will either embrace or be left in a ghost town.

Local marketing and the ability to utilize the web have come light years in the last ten years. I wonder what it would have been like at The Tiny Store to have such awesome tools  and avenues to develop and grow business? We’ll never know or maybe we will…

Web two point oh is now evolving to another level and engaging the searcher like never before. You probably already know this but I’m going to dig in and cover it anyway.

Search engines are starting to embrace the patterns and behaviors of us humans, aka the searcher. Combine this with the social media element and you have a very interesting chemistry that brings forth a new way of doing business.

This also brings even more to the surface as we become inundated with more and more information.

Thus the ‘Local Social’ comes into play and as we meld the search engine with social sites and other citation/review sites. Now it’s a little more complex than that but hopefully you get the picture.

It’s a new day for the offline small business that relies on the local folk for their livelihood!

So if you run and operate a small business that relies on the surrounding local community, then listen up and pay attention for a few more minutes, because this is serious stuff!

1. If you desire to attract and capture new searchers and visitors – you need to develop as many positive testimonials and citations (reviews) as possible.

2. You need to make sure you are listed on ALL of the local directories.

3. You must take action now and not delay another day!

Why you ask?

Because the race is on and the small business owner does the work and works the plan will be the one who rises to the top and dominates in his or her local marketplace. Yes, that’s the way it’s going to be moving forward. But now the small business can go head to head with the big national box and can stay out in front and win!

Guerilla tactics are us! (Thank you Jay Conrad Levinson)

Now there is more to these steps, if you are curious to find out – check in at SBM and see if the “Local Social Plan” for Small Business Owners is still available. Depending on when you read this, it may or may not be still on the market.

So waste not any time my faithful reader. Take action now and go make it happen.

Stay tuned and plugged in,

Dave Krygier
Publisher

How to do Local Search Marketing

                       Local Search Marketing for Small Business      

As of this writing, ‘how to do local search marketing’ is a pretty hot topic for small business owners who rely on local economies to fuel their enterprises. When it comes to the question ‘how to get listed in local search’, one needs to really peel back the layers and look at all the current options available.

Basically it’s a simple concept. Get your small business as visible as possible in the search engines and directories, so the when the searcher comes looking, you pop up and say we are here, we are here!

Years ago – during what I call the early Internet age(kind of like the 1960’s), we only had organic search and a few directories. It was the wild west Internet but not as fast paced as today. For the first 4 years we were on dial up even though much faster lines were available for commercial use. The slow connections prohibited video and audio was just getting it’s start.

Today you have to be tuned in to local search marketing if your small business relies on the local method of generating new prospects and being visible to existing customers.

So let’s look at the basic overview:

You list your business in the directories just like the ole’ physical yellow and white pages books, and then make yourself really visible to the searcher in the search engines.

1. Search Engines – first you have organic and then you have paid. Do it in this order and with paid search, always test first before building out a campaign.

2. Directories provide aggregate information about businesses. You need to be listed on as many as possible. In some cases the directories might rank really high and give you extra search juice. Go to UBL.org and check out their packages. It’s well worth the money.

3. Google Places (formerly Google Maps) is what we use to find locations and destinations. Google + Local is the most current version and Yahoo! also has their version, so make sure you optimize and that your small business is listed and that you’ve utilized all the tools currently available to you.

4. Videos can be a big benefit for testimonials, demonstrations, promotions and more, so be sure to sprinkle a video here and there to help your rankings. It’s also a good idea to use sites like Vimeo and Viddler along with You Tube.

Top it all off with adding Social Media sites, add a little bit of PPC and you have a recipe for local search marketing success.

In addition to the traffic that the search engines, directories, and social media sites can bring your business, you have what I call target market vehicles, plus mobile websites to make search much easier for the mobile surfer.

What it comes down to is making it easy for the searcher to find you. Which means that you should seriously consider a mobile website, since more and more people are using their mobile devices for searches. And they especially use them when looking for a destination or are in need of contact information.

We’ll dig more into this topic in a future post. In the mean time if your small business is stuck in the local search marketing mud – check in with the SmallBiz Mechanic and see if he can help you out.

Stay tuned…

Dave Krygier
Publisher

Secrets of The Tiny Store

Local Search Marketing & What it Means to Your Small Business

Local Search Marketing is one of those topics that I don’t often write about but felt compelled to do so since I’ve been running into so many small businesses that are searching for ways to capture leads, create awareness and connect within their local communities.

In all my years of being involved in small business I’ve never seen a better time for new and existing small biz ventures to be able to reach out to their local communities through the web and local search.

For so many years all we had were the physical yellow pages and then the web came our way in 95′, but none of the directories were even tuned in yet. A matter of fact I can remember meeting with the USWest(now Qwest) folks in Seattle and they didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. Or at least they weren’t letting on if they did know.

I can also remember the first time that I heard about local search online from a business associate. This was way back in 2000 or 2001 and we had been looking and searching for ways to market to our region versus the rest of the planet.

By this time USWest and GTE(now Superpages) were charging $19.95 a month for each online listing and we needed a lot of listings because of all the product and services categories we were in.

We had tons of organic traffic and the phones and email were hot and sizzlin’, and the search engines really helped us, but locally it was still primarily traditional media and physical directories.

Enough about the past – let’s dig into the present and how you can take advantage of local search marketing for your small business.

Local search marketing is much easier now than it’s ever been before and you can develop a presence in your region or community within days and weeks versus months and years.

A big part of local search marketing is the local search directory. There are more than 30 places online to find and get access to local area businesses, so you need to know which directories are the best for local search. Do your research and you’ll quickly see who the players are including web-based directories like Yahoo! Local, Local.com, Superpages/ SuperMedia (originally operated by GTE), Yellowpages, Dex, Infospace and the list goes on and on. Also at the top of the pile is Google Maps so make sure to claim your listing there as well.

Getting Started with Local Search

To get started with local search you will want to get listed in the Universal Business Listing (UBL). This is the big daddy and they feed their listings to just about everyone else online. The annual cost is minimal and you will also receive listings with most of the other online directories.

Step Two is to go back and register with the top five online directories that are not included in the UBL. Most of the online directories are free for the basic listing so make sure to fill out all the information and provide complete descriptions whenever asked. And make sure to have a list of keywords and phrases that are targeted and directly relate to what you offer.

Step Three is to take the time and check your listings. This way you can monitor and see where you are coming up in the search engines and directories.

Lastly – if you have the capability, you might consider creating landing pages and/or dedicated URL’s for certain directories. This is a more advanced strategy and you need to make sure that you know what your doing before implementing it.

In closing – if your business revolves around and relies on the local community and region, then it is imperative that you get on the local search bandwagon now, and do what it takes to get listed in as many directories as possible along with optimizing your site for the search engines.

If you need more information about how to implement local search in your business, contact The Small Biz Mechanic.