Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Here's a piece of simple, actionable marketing advice: It's better to be a big fish in a small pond. Rather than attempting to swim with the sharks—the big businesses that seemingly dominate whatever market they choose to inhabit—why not take a different approach? Because you operate locally, you may feel disadvantaged. While you have limits, a global company's advertising budget makes trying to compete futile, so it seems. However, paying special attention to your locale and building relationships with nearby customers through sector segmentation means less competition, which may ultimately lead to niche domination. According to search engine statistics, close to 75% of searchers will visit a store within a five-mile radius of their homes. At the end of the day, customers in your area are eager to find you and your business, but you must make yourself more discoverable online. Here are several strategies that will bring you closer to your clients and vice versa.
When Google acquired Where 2 Technologies in 2004, the internet giant subsequently rolled out Google Maps, a geospatial visualizer helping to revolutionize business-to-consumer interactions. As a somewhat real-time data visualizer, the program essentially turned Google into the new yellow pages while simultaneously stretching the reaches of an organization's local, organic reach in cyberspace. A Google Map listing is all about presence and consistent marketing results. When local customers see your business on the platform, it builds trust and a healthy lead inventory.
For brick-and-mortar operators and service-based contractors, directory listings continue to improve the odds of exposure. Podium claims that free online advertising sites have taken the place of newspaper classifieds as one of the best ways to reach local markets. The process is usually free and quite simple, only requiring a few steps from beginning to end. Think Yelp, Craigslist, and the many other review sites. Is your business already listed? Try claiming pertinent information in order to enhance relevancy while streamlining your marketing efforts. Accuracy is key to this tactic. Outdated details can cost you.
Often quoted in movies, television shows, and written literature, the phrase, “If you build it, they will come” only applies online when your website has been optimized so that search engines can easily communicate with the back-end metadata. Why is this important? Amplifying the creative as well as technical site aspects helps increase search ranking. The last time you used Google, Yahoo, or Bing to look something up, did you scroll past the first page? More than likely you did not. Adjusting HTML elements, providing timely content, and updating customizable components frequently are just a few steps involved. Remember, SEO is a long-term endeavor. With diligence, results will come.
Targeted Social Media Posts
Paid Facebook advertising is arguably one of the more powerful pay-per-click platforms around. Never before has targeting your audience at such scale existed. More specifically, Facebook's marketing medium allows managers to adjust zip codes, age ranges, and professional and educational interests. When you use this type of tool, you need to create defined boundaries and understand what your audience likes to share and why they like to share such content. Results should reflect consumer intent.
Before the advent of social media platforms, as we know them today, user-generated content was growing rapidly. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other associated apps increased the prospects of such content to the point of ubiquity. Campaign custodians quickly found out that users love to reveal key information about themselves with others on the same sites such as what they like, where they live, and other various consumption habits. This is where checking in began. Moreover, enabling the check-in feature through social media opens a floodgate; customers share their locations with other customers, creating a user-friendly network of advocates who will hopefully patronize the establishment repeatedly and leave great reviews.
Although this isn't necessarily an online strategy, farming the community yields dividends many times over. Plus, many people are so focused on application metrics that they forget about shoe leather (a term denoting actual face-to-face interaction). In simpler terms, this is known as business development. There are a lot of opportunities to partner with other businesses in the name of cross-promotion. Simply walk into your target business, introduce yourself, and leave a stack of cards or flyers. Then you should be sure to carry information for that business. This is where you can get really creative. Do what the other guys aren't doing.
Alongside business listings, search engine optimization, and check-ins, having satisfied customers sing your praises tends to increase foot traffic in multiples. Remember, word-of-mouth recommendations have worked since the dawn of time and will remain one of the most valuable strategic tools in the marketer's arsenal. In order to thrive as a small business owner, you need the help of those closest to you - the local audience that's just waiting to find out who you are and what you're about.
Search and social have leveled the playing field, equalizing competitive advantages across the commercial spectrum. Go where the big guy won't. Go local.
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