That’s not how you make a splash online, especially when you’re a small to middle business. Strong online marketing of your local business should achieve the following:
- Make your small business easy to find when potential customers search for goods or services you provide
- Make it easy for people to contact you. This could mean coming to your premises, phoning you, emailing, or using a contact form
- Give prospective customers a sense of the kind of business you are
- Build confidence that you provide high quality services or goods
- These are the major goals, the next question is how to reach them. The tips below will take you through some of the basis steps.
How to Create an Online Presence that will Grow your Business
- If you haven't yet set up your Google places page, you should do so. Firstly you need to check to see if Google has already created a profile of your business. They often do so by searching through other local directories. You can 'claim' an existing page by working through a verification process, demonstrating that you are the owner of the business concerned. Once you've claimed your page you can take control of the content.
- Ensure that all existing entries are accurate. Your legal business name, address, telephone number, opening hours, email details and website address are the basics. Inaccuracies in this information will make your business look less creditable and professional. Your details could well be listed on several different local directories and it's important that they are consistent across all sites.
- Link your Google page to your website. If you don't yet have a website you should create one, or get it done on your behalf. You might think that local businesses don't need a website but a 2012 survey showed that 85% of consumers use the internet to search for local services and this figure is only going to grow.
- Learn to think like a customer who's running a search. This means identifying the words that people will use to search for you, your all important 'keywords' Some of these are straightforward, in other cases there're some specialised skills and tricks involved in making sure that your business is easily found. Local online marketing is an evolving area and it's important to stay current with the latest trends. Searches are increasingly being performed on mobile devices, smart phones and tablets, this in itself has changed the way people run searches. This rapid evolution and change is one reason for involving an SEO professional in your online marketing.
- Ensure that your business is listed in the most relevant directories for your sector. There are some directories that will always be relevant for any business, others are more specialised.
- Where the potential exists for customers to make online reservations take advantage of this. Toptable for Restaurants or Flipkey for hotels, hostels or other holiday rentals would be two examples, but there are others. These steps are all aimed at making your business easy to find and easy to contact. If the above have been attended to you will have already increased your online visibility, ensuring that when people search for your goods or services yours is one of the first businesses they see. You've moved 'up the rankings' when it comes to search results. To make sure you stay there, let's move onto the next two goals.
- Once you have the basics in place you can start to think about making your online presence more exciting. Do this by uploading photos, videos, blogs and other content that hold customer interest. Regular updates on your pages demonstrate that you're still an active business. Engaging with your customers demonstrates that you're interested in them. It's time to think about things like social media, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages.
- Solicit reviews of your business from past customers. Nothing is more effective in building your reputation than recommendations from others who've used your services.
- Manage your online reputation. There's always the possibility that someone might enter a negative review of your local business. This is distressing but doesn't have to be a disaster. The effect of a negative review will be greatly influenced by the way you deal with it.
When you Don't Have the Time or the Skills
Knowing what to do is one thing. Knowing how to do it is another. Finding the time can be a third. As a small business owner you're probably familiar with the following set of questions:
- How much is my time worth?
- How long will it take me?
- Would I be better off getting someone else in, because they're cheaper than my time, or they can do it better than me and generate more profit than their services cost?
When it comes to successful online marketing, there's a strong argument for calling in professionals. As stated earlier, online marketing may be the most cost effective form of advertising ever offered for small businesses, but it does take time and professionals can generally do it better than you can. Local Fame offers affordable local seo services for your small business and even digital marketing for franchises if you're part of a larger chain.
As a small business owner, you now have the possibility of taking advantage of the kind of expertise that until recently was only available to much lager concerns. Drop us a line and find out more about how we can help you. You'll be placing yourself under no obligation by doing so and we'd love to hear from you.