Local marketing is a gold mine to the business that:
- Learns how to leverage it
- Develops a process they follow through without fail
- Stays aware of new trends and integrates what make sense for their model
I’m constantly hearing the market is crowded and people are going online to buy stuff (which is true and we’ll address that) but the truth of the matter is you have the power to pull the customer to your business using local marketing tactics if you choose to use them.
Here’s the truth and I can say this with real power because trust me I know –
It’s extremely rare I see a business doing a great job at local marketing. So it probably won’t take as much as you think to stand out in your space.
Today in this marketing lesson I will layout the entire groundwork of considerations needed before you can develop an awesome local marketing strategy!
Let’s get started!
Local Marketing: Let’s Cover the Internet Bases
1 -Your Website
To attract customers you must have a website that was built with the customer in mind. How is it laid out? Is it user friendly? Do you have an idea of how people would search for what you sell? Did you consider that when it was designed? Is there a place for them to sign up for your list? What’s the incentive for them to sign up? Is there valuable information there that serves as answers to their problems? Do they see you as a leader in your space?
IS YOUR WEBSITE MOBILE? This is the NUMBER 1 consideration!
ACTION ITEM 1: Do this right now! Take out your handheld and look up your own website. Look at it how your customer would. What do they see? Is it mobile-friendly? The whole idea is to use your local marketing efforts to drive traffic to your website, when they get there what do they find?
If your website isn’t mobile take your phone and hit yourself over the head with it right now. Sorry but you need to wake-up and get with the program!
A mobile marketing strategy should be one of the top considerations in every marketing plan!
ACTION ITEM 2: Take a look at your website from a visitor perspective (from your mobile) and answer the following questions: (Try to remove your ego.)
- Is your website user-friendly? Is the content done well? Do people find what they need right away?
- Is there a place for people to sign up for your list that’s front and center?
- Is there valuable information there for them?
- Does your website make you look like a leader in your space?
2 – Search
Here’s the deal – when people need what you sell they do a search on the Internet. Your local marketing efforts are more successful when people can actually find you.
ACTION ITEM 3: Type into Google what someone would type into the search engine if they were looking for what you do or sell. What comes up on the first page? (Make sure you’re not logged into any Gmail accounts when you conduct this search as it can create false results.)
If you’re in the first page real estate awesome that’s a huge asset to your local marketing efforts! You get some huge points for that! If not – your competitor is getting the action here. Make a note of who is on that first page of search because you’ll need that information for the competitor section of this exercise.
Here are some example searches:
Hairdresser Atlanta GA
Restaurants Detroit MI
Don’t type in the literal name of your business and find yourself on page 1 and think EUREKA! Nobody looks for your business by name (Well most of the time anyway.). When you’re conducting a search think like a potential searcher would.
Local Marketing and Geo-Targeting
You don’t really have to type in a city anymore thanks to geo-targeting. The search engines now identify the visitor’s location according to the IP, and/or WiFi / GPS data (=”geolocation”), and content specific to that location is the information they receive.
Local Marketing and Yelp
Here’s an interesting tip for you, iPhones are used by about 48% of mobile users. That’s almost half!
iPhone has a partnership with Yelp which means that when an iPhone user conducts a search for a local business the first resource offered up is Yelp pages.
FACT: Most businesses have either never claimed their Yelp Business Page or they completely ignore it and don’t monitor the reviews.
ACTION ITEM 4: Do a search for your business and find your Yelp Profile. Don’t just recreate one! See if you have one first and if you don’t then it’s okay to create one. You don’t want two out there! Once you find your profile claim it. This is crucial to your local marketing efforts – never overlook profiles that carry this much weight on the Internet.
After you claim your Yelp profile then make sure it’s fully populated with pictures etc.
The next thing you have to do is on a regular basis you’ll need to check your profile (we’ll talk about reputation monitoring coming up) and make sure you respond to all reviews good and bad.
- 73% of consumers lose trust in your business if your online listings aren’t accurate. (Search Engine Watch)
- A one-star increase in a business rating can equate to a 5% to 9% revenue increase! (Harvard Business School)
- Apple maps are used 3 times as much as Google maps on iPhones and iPads. (Venture Beat)
3- Reputation Marketing and Reviews
This is huge! When was the last time you did a search for your business on the Internet to see what’s being said about you? If you say 6 months ago or never, take out your mobile again and smack yourself in the head with it!
Always remember that people are constantly searching for products and services via the Internet. When they find something they’re interested in they will cross-reference the product or business to see what kind of company they are before they call.
If they find bad feedback about your business guess what? You just lost a new customer.
Put a dollar sign on it – what is a new customer worth to you? When you see a bad review about your business I want you to see that dollar sign in your head.
There are services you can purchase to make it much easier to keep an eye on your reputation but they come at a cost from pretty inexpensive to very expensive. (Again see the dollar sign connected to that customer this could be worth it to you.) Here are a few to mention (I have no personal experience with these products.): Trackur, Reputology, and Review Trackers.
You can also use the very simple (and free) process I use for my own business and clients.
Step 1. Weekly we check the following websites for positive and negative reviews. We personally respond to all positive reviews any negative feedback is immediately sent to the client for feedback and we come up with a plan of action.
Step 2. Once a month we type the business name into the search engine and go up to 4 pages in the search and look for any potential bad feedback on any websites or listings.
What if you get a bad review?
Don’t ignore it! Talk to everyone that was involved and get feedback from all sides. Once you have completely researched the incident contact the customer and do your best to smooth it over. Most of the time people just want to be heard and have some feeling of resolve. Try to reach an agreement and ask them to remove the bad feedback. If they won’t there’s really nothing you can do but work on getting a ton of great feedback to push it down!
ACTION ITEM 5: Conduct a reputation search on your business using the steps I pointed out above. Do it on a regular basis.
4 – Directory Profiles
Once you do your first reputation check it’s important to look through any directory listings like Yellowpages.com, Merchant Circle etc and make sure your information is correct. Most businesses will let you claim the free version of your listing. There are tons of obscure directory listings out there and it’s their business strategy to populate your listings just enough so that you contact them wanting to claim them. Then when you do they hit you up with their pitch.
I get asked constantly, “Does it help to rank better in Google if I am on all those directories?”
The answer is yes and no.
No – There is no value in listing your website on every obscure Internet directory out there. It used to be that having a ton of links to your website was helpful in the ranking process. That is no longer the case, in fact it can be harmful. What IS helpful is having your link on high ranking websites like Facebook, Yelp, LinkedIN, Google, Yellow Pages and websites like that. It’s not helpful to have links to your website on directories that no one cares about.
Yes – Do populate the top ranking directories meaning the ones that are on the first few pages of the search and no matter what make sure the information that is there, is correct. Also a very important point, Google looks to established sources of data to both build their database and check for local business information. So you need to make sure your information is correct everywhere – it impacts your overall search strategy.
Here is a resource that is very helpful in grading your effort in completing your directories and it will give you actions to complete the process. Click here to visit Moz Local, all you do is put in the name of your business and city it will do the rest.
ACTION ITEM 6: Do a solid 5-page back search and look for all directories where your business is listed. Claim the listing and make sure the information is correct.
5 – Competition
It’s crucial to any marketing strategy to know WHO your competitors are and how they position their businesses. How are they communicating via social media? What does their website look like? Where do they rank in your searches? Are they advertising on Google? Facebook?
Often I hear from business owners, “we don’t have competition”. My response is oh really, what would people type into the Internet search if they were looking for your business? All the other businesses that are there – those are your competitors.
I also hear, “We’re special in our space, no one is doing what we do and the way we do it.”
(Side note: That’s ego talking and that type of mindset is what keeps businesses struggling and never reaching their full potential!)
Here’s the thing, the consumer decides who your competitors are – not you. If they can get something you sell elsewhere cheaper, then you have a competitor.
If you sell for example medical grade skincare products the consumer can probably go to Amazon and purchase the same product you sell for a fraction of the price you sell it at.
Which brings me to another point that we all have to face, you now have the Internet as a competitor. Brick and mortar businesses are starting to feel the burn as people start turning to the Internet for a wider range of products, cheaper prices and free shipping.
A recent article I read on Comscore, Mobile is Eating Bricks and Mortar quoted people are using their handheld more and more for a shopping experience. “The 2015 shopping season proved it, as we saw an explosion in the use of mobile devices for digital shopping behavior. It accounted for an eye-popping 63% of all online retail visits this past season.”
Competition is real. You need to consider having some real hard facts on your competition as a part of your marketing strategy.
ACTION ITEM 7: Competition Analysis – Here are a list of actions to take to become more aware about your competitors.
- What would someone type into Google if they were looking for what you do or sell? Type that into the search. List out the 10 businesses that are there.
- Visit the competitor websites in the search one by one. Write out some observations. How good is their website?
- How are they positioning their business? Do you see anything they are doing that’s different from you?
- Do a check on their online reviews this will give you an idea as to their customer service practices and how good they are at their business in general.
- Look up their Facebook page and see how good they are at social media efforts. Does it look like they even care how their business looks in social media? If no this is a BIG opportunity for you! Do they share useful information and really engage with their followers instead of just random facts that no one really cares about?
- Are they advertising on Google? If they are and you’re not this means they’re getting some business opportunities you’re losing. This is a point for them and a huge mark in the weakness category for you.
- Look around for evidence of email marketing efforts. Are they offering discounts or other incentives to get people to sign up? If this is something they’re doing and you’re not that means they are more aggressively getting new customers and probably doing a better job at staying in front of their customers – also not great news for you. 🙁
- Do you see evidence of a customer loyalty program that’s in place? In today’s world if your business is direct to consumer a customer loyalty program needs to be a part of your marketing structure. Customer loyalty programs enhance the customer experience and provides incentives for them to come to you versus going to a competitor or to the Internet. Once again if they’re doing this and you’re not it’s huge point for them and strike for you.
Consider all these points, how do you fare? Make a list of action items and list them in order of priority. This isn’t something you should put on the back-burner either. It’s quite important so give it the attention it deserves.
These are the types of actions that are the difference between growing your business and/or losing new customer opportunities to your competitors.
Local Marketing: Google Places is an Important Tool
Google Business Places gets its own category because it’s just that important, in fact it’s probably as important as your website.
When your customers go to look for your business online either to get directions or for other information your Google Business Places is the first thing they see. They see reviews about your business and how you talk to your customers. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask all your customers to give you reviews and also respond every time they leave one for you.
Additionally, did you know your Google Business Place can give you a huge Internet ranking boost?
When people go to the Internet and conduct a search Google Business Pages take up a large portion of the landscape.
If your page is completely populated meaning all sections are filled out and optimized AND you get great reviews yours can rank above your competitors!
A greatly optimized Google Business page with a ton of good reviews has 2 major benefits to your local marketing strategy:
- It helps you to rank higher in organic search results.
- It shows people who find your business online how well you conduct your business. Remember the rule, a one-star increase in a business rating can equate to a 5% to 9% revenue increase!
Client Profile Andy OnCall Handyman in Alpharetta GA:
This is a client of mine and although we crush it with all their keywords, they are on page one for their search terms, the Google Business Page was always a weakness. That is until we started focusing hardcore on reviews and now for the first time in 2 years if you type in handyman Alpharetta GA their Google page ranks #2. It’s my goal to eventually take the 1st position!
When someone conducts this search on a handheld there is a also a call option in addition to the website and directions so this is a huge boost to our marketing efforts!
This is the kind of marketing that equates to new customers!
Here are some interesting facts:
- 73% of all online activity is related to local content (Google)
- 82% of local searchers follow up with a phone call or show up on your doorstep (TMP/comScore)
- 66% of Americans use local search to find local businesses (comScore)
See why this is so important?
ACTION ITEM 8: If you haven’t, claimed your Google Business Page look for yours and claim it today! It’s critical to your local marketing strategy!
ACTION ITEM 9: Populate your Google Business page until it reaches 100%.
Here are your action steps:
- As I mentioned before you want to make sure that your profile is 100%.
- Include product or service keywords in your listing description also list one or two of the cities or suburbs where your target market lives. Be sure not to overuse your keywords.
- When your Google Business page is finished and completely optimized then encourage all your best customers to leave positive reviews on your page. Remember this can impact your search status almost overnight!
- Consider launching a campaign with an incentive to customers who leave feedback for you on Google. It can be a coupon, a special discount – whatever you want to be. I revert back to an earlier statement remember those reviews equate to sales! So it’s worth a well thought out effort to create a marketing strategy that increases reviews.
- Include your Google page link on your newsletters and your website. You’re just making it easier for people to leave reviews for you.
- Once you open up this effort you can’t just leave it! You should check your reviews weekly. Even when you get good reviews you should respond and say thank you, it just looks good. When you have a bad review make sure you address it immediately! Nothing is worse than people seeing bad reviews on your Google page that go ignored.
Local Marketing : Facebook is a Crucial Element
Facebook is also getting its own category here! It is a huge piece of your local marketing puzzle! If your customer is 35 to 55 years old, this happens to be Facebook’s largest demographic so you definitely want to be there!
Facebook is adding so many special dynamics to their platform lately but I just wanted to keep this simple and focus on the elements of setting up your page properly. So I won’t be going too far into the rabbit hole during this particular post. It is something I plant to do at a later date though! 🙂
Before I go into the must list I wanted to say that lately Facebook has become a pay-to-play game meaning that you won’t get too much engagement just doing regular posts. That does not mean that you shouldn’t do them! If you write something great and people start liking it that will give it more views in your fans feed.
However, I feel that every single business no matter what you do or who your customer is should be spending a small amount on Facebook ads. There are many ways you can leverage it. You can use it to grow your likes, drive traffic to your website and so much more!
As you can see below there are tons of objectives for your Facebook ads. The ads are so inexpensive that it’s just smart!
If you’re promoting a special product or a sale the best thing to do is write a post and then boost it – that way you can decide how many eyes see it. Now before you poo-poo paying $10 or $20 to boost something you’re thinking should be free just remember to always be focused on the result. So if you pay $10 to boost and ad but it brings in more traffic to your store and increases sales that’s a win! You should ALWAYS think of the benefit and value of investing money to market your business versus cost, especially if it’s a tiny cost!
The most important thing is that your Facebook looks professional, is fully optimized.
Important Point: More people will engage with your Facebook page from your handheld so make sure it looks good from all points.
ACTION ITEM 10: Let’s do a Facebook checkup!
- First off take out your mobile and see what it looks like – see what your visitor sees. Do you have your call to action set up properly? For example, if your call to action is contact us or email us make sure it’s connected to the contact page on your website. If you have a consumer driven business my favorite call to action is Call Us Now. If someone clicks that from their handheld your phone number will pop right up. See the image below of one of my clients, see how their call to action is call now? Also, I have another client who is a retail store and her button says Buy Now and it goes to her online store. So make sure you make the best call to action decision for your particular business model.
- Get Verified – If your Facebook page isn’t already verified get that done right away. Getting verified gives your page more credibility and according to Facebook will give your posts more advantage in your fans feeds more so than pages that don’t have the verified symbol. See an example below, the white arrow is pointing to the verified symbol.
To verify your Page:
- Click Settings at the top of your Page
- From General, click Page Verification
- Click Verify this Page, then click Get Started
- Enter a publicly listed phone number for your business, your country and language
- Click Call Me Now to allow Facebook to call you with a verification code
- Enter the 4-digit verification code and click Continue
- Fill out your information completely – Make sure all your places for information are filled out fully, the general information, your hours of operation, every single tab should be filled in. Remember, look at this like a website. People go here to read about your business.
- Set up your automatic messaging options – People can now send you messages through Facebook and because you can’t always respond right away you don’t want to look unprofessional. Facebook has created some great options for you.Go to Settings > Messaging – You should see your options pop up. First off set your response time. Let people know about how long it typically takes for you to get back into touch with them.
- Below you can enable an away message when your business is closed and set an away message. Here you can set up instant replies so when someone sends you a message they get one right back. Here in this example we provide them with our phone number so they can call for immediate assistance instead of waiting for us to get back to them.
- Scheduling Facebook Posts – What happens when you’re incredibly busy during the week and just don’t have time to make posts? Easy! Schedule your posts in advance! Write your post like you normally would then click the upside down triangle you see the short arrow pointing to, then choose schedule.Once you choose schedule this box will pop up. Just set it up for when you want it to go out and then click schedule.
I could easily go on and on about Facebook but I think it’s best to end it here. I’ve already written a novel! 🙂
I hope you find this local marketing guide useful.
Once you set up your local marketing online presence, make sure you take care of it. Cheers!