The good news is – the Internet offers unparalleled marketing opportunities. Unlike other marketing channels, it is very cost effective ad highly trackable. Truly, a marketers dream.
But how can small mom-and-pop stores across the country harvest the power of the web?
It would be a joke if you called Internet marketing simple – it is far from simple. However, most local businesses really don’t need huge or complex campaigns. All they need to change is their attitude and take a few steps to truly make a difference.
Change of Mindset
Some small business owners believe in too many Internet related myths. Here are a few of those that quite simply have to die and make way for better things:
- The internet is not a fad nor a trend. It will never go away. The only change that can happen is a deeper integration of the web into our lives and, with that, into our business. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at Siri, Apple’s intuitive voice activated digital assistant that lets you use your voice to send messages, make calls and send reminders.
- Internet Marketing is expensive. This myth is self-destructive in its nature. Internet marketing campaigns routinely outperform newspaper, radio and TV advertising when it comes to ROI. Word-of-mouth is the only marketing channel that boasts a better ROI than Internet marketing.
Build a Website That Sells
The Internet as a marketing channel should be held accountable for its output. This should start with your business website whose primary goal must be to generate revenue, either through creating awareness, generating leads or sales.
It’s not as complicated as it seems if
- You make your website ridiculously easy to use by implementing simple and intuitive navigation. Just take a look at Microsoft or Medicare. They each have two sets of navigation that are easy to find and click on.
- Does your website clearly communicate your unique selling proposition (Can a visitor see why are you better than your competition in a matter of seconds). My favorite example of this is Mint.com. That clearly states what the site is about.
Keep in mind that building a website that sells when you know what is important for website performance doesn’t have to be complicated nor expensive. If you can’t build it by yourself nor by using free website building tools, consider hiring a local junior web designer that is looking to build their portfolio. The risk of creating an inferior website is lower if you educate yourself and if you develop a clear vision of what your site should accomplish.
Promote Your Website
Even if you build the most professional looking site on the planet with copy that is so persuasive that it would convince an Eskimo to buy ice from you, you are highly unlikely to generate a single dollar of revenue from your website if nobody knows it exists. Sad, but true. Luckily, promoting a local brick and mortar business doesn’t require Coca Cola?s marketing budget.
With a little bit of guidance and some time at your disposal you can do it yourself. You need to:
- Make sure that anyone that has ever mentioned your business online also links to your website. That is not always possible, but most of the time it is. If an online magazine mentioned you in one of their articles, you can always e-mail the reporter who wrote the story and ask if it’s possible to point a link to your website since you were already mentioned. The same is true for industry and professional associations, chambers of commerce, charities and so on.
- You should be present and active on all the most popular social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin), as well as the ones that are relevant for your industry. One example is BizSugar which is great for consultants that sell to small business owners.
- Get listed in all Internet directories for your industry. You can find them using Google or, ironically, other directories like BOTW (listofbusinessdirectories).
- You could also ask your vendors to link to you, offering a testimonial if necessary.
- Offer to write for other websites in your industry in exchange for a mention of your business on their pages etc.
- Use QR codes in fun and interesting ways. Pitney Bowes has asimple?QR Code Generatoranyone can use.
This list could be infinite.
You need to approach this task as seriously as you possibly can as it will make a difference between improving your bottom line vs losing money and time building a website which will never be seen by anyone except yourself.
Local Search Platforms Are Your Friends
Google Places, Bing and Yahoo Local as well as many IYP sites (Internet Yellow Pages) are more than capable to bring you new business. However, first you have to make sure that you are:
- Present and in control of your presence on these platforms. This is exceptionally important when it comes to Google places. So if you haven?t, go ahead and verifyyourGooglePlaces before you finish this article. Yes, it is that important. While you are there, just make sure to read howtomakeagreatlisting
- Be ubiquitous and consistent. Try to list your business in all local business directories using the same information (same name, address, phone number, categorization etc.) The more consistent signals Google finds about your business, the more important your listing becomes in Google’s eyes? and the higher it ranks.
- Reviews – get them. Reviews are highly important for the success of your listings. People are using the when they are making purchasing decisions and search engines are using them in their algorithms.
There you have it. Follow these easy steps and your local business will get a boost from the web.