The new year is a great time to start a new marketing campaign, as it’ll give you a clean slate and enable you to truly measure the campaign’s effectiveness. Sometimes, however, it’s hard to know if your marketing plan highlights all of the best options for small businesses, especially when looking to increase your local reach.
Below is a checklist of local marketing options, each with a brief description. Use it to help draft your business’ road map for implementing new marketing tactics.
Smaller directories seem to be a little known secret on the web. Google qualifies as one, and so do Bing, Yahoo and other major search engines. These directories, however, are indexed by aforementioned search engines because they offer unique information about local businesses. Upon finding a directory, you can either create a listing or claim a listing for your existing business. From that point, you can control the information that customers find when they seek you out on the web.
A special note about claiming your current listings: Unless your business is brand new, there’s a very good chance it already exists within directories or on social media; even if you haven’t initiated anything. This is actually pretty common, so don’t panic. Simply review the information and make sure it’s correct. If it isn’t, you’ll file a claim form for the directory in question, and go through a verification process.
Google My Business
Aside from smaller directories, there’s always Google, which indexes information to use as part of its many proprietary directory services (e.g. Google+, Google Maps, etc.). If you don’t have a business listing yet, you can use Google My Business to enter basic information about your business, including your address, phone number, website and photos. Google will also aggregate your customer reviews from across the web and give you the ability to respond to them in one place.
Google My Business is also a good idea if you intend to implement a Google Adwords campaign as it helps to raise your profile on Google when people search for you. You can also incorporate Google+ features into their directories, giving you a chance to interact with others. Bing and Yahoo offer similar options.
There isn’t much new in social media when it comes to promoting your business in 2016. However, it’s still worth spending some time and effort getting your business on social media sites.
Creating a business page on Facebook gives you the ability to connect with the millions of users on the social platform. If you have a Facebook page for your personal use, you know the benefits of the website; it’s easy to post updates, photos and videos. You also have the chance to add your address, directions to your physical location and your website.
If you’re not on Yelp, you’re really missing the boat. If it’s new to you, Yelp is a consumer-driven review site that lives and breathes local. Restaurants, car repair shops and even dry cleaners are all on Yelp, and receive feedback from their customer base. Check to make sure all of the information regarding your business on Yelp is correct, including phone number, website, address and operating hours.
Depending on your industry, Instagram might be a perfect fit for your business. Essentially a visual social media feed, Instagram is a great way to share products and announcements with customers. You’ll get the added benefit of Instragram followers, that will help to boost your exposure as your followers share your updates with their followers and so on.
Other Online Media
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a godsend for small businesses that involves crafting your online presence to be as search engine-friendly as possible. When weighed against other marketing costs, SEO is a relatively cheap way for your business to stay near the top of search result listings, if done correctly.
It may be as old as the internet itself, but email marketing is still an incredibly effective tool. Research shows that people are still willing to receive and act on emails sent from businesses they frequent. Take advantage of this pretty inexpensive way for you to directly reach your customers on their computer screens or mobile devices.
Traditional media makes it sound as if those methods are outdated. In truth, traditional media carries the moniker of “traditional” because it’s been around for that long, and it still works. Here are some more tried-and-true ways you can help to increase your local business footprint.
How do people find your storefront or office? Is it easy to locate? If not, investigate getting a professional sign made. Its purpose is twofold: it’ll make it easier for people to find you and/or find out about you and it’s a great piece of branding.
Fliers, Inserts, Direct Mail
While a little pricier than some other methods, using fliers and direct mail has proven to return results. These are especially helpful if you have a popular local newspaper that is actually read by the locals. Chances are you’ll see a much better return on investment when talking about a full-page flier in the newspaper as opposed to an overpriced quarter-page ad.
Direct Mail, like email, is a direct delivery method that gives you access to people in ways other businesses normally don’t get. By mailing the direct mail piece, you are now aiming to make a personal connection with a potential—or returning—customer. A word of warning, however: direct mail can get pricey, especially with the price of postage rising almost everyday.
Investigate the type of mailing lists you can buy and start small. A more targeted campaign with a higher return on investment (ROI) is far more valuable than a broad campaign that no one notices.
This is an older public relations tactic, but it’s still relevant today. An advertorial is typically written in the style and/or tone of the publication it will be placed in. The content, however, will be a thinly veiled marketing message for your company or your product and how people would benefit from using it. Think of it as an infomercial but with the written word instead of shouting.
Getting the word out about your business in 2016 is a mix of the old and the new. Yes, a finely tuned internet presence—complete with social media, email marketing and other tactics—is important, but don’t discount local offline efforts. Make sure you find the right mix, and don’t forget to measure it. Otherwise, you might be wasting both your time and money.