With the rise of e-commerce and the increased influence of global brands, many local businesses find it challenging to connect with customers even in their own backyard. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Data from Google shows that over 4 out of 5 consumers regularly search online for local services or products, while many customers are happy to pay higher prices to support small business.
It may be tough to compete with international advertising campaigns, but there are still plenty of marketing strategies that organizations tend to overlook. ePromos reached out to expert marketers and small biz owners alike to get their thoughts and efficient tips that will help level the playing field when it comes to advertising a local business.
1. Yelp Marketing
Local marketing is pretty much our entire marketing strategy since we cater only to Californians, so we heavily rely on ranking higher for local users. One strategy that has worked well for us is Yelp advertising. The key to succeeding on Yelp is having a complete profile, actively responding to reviews and doing your best to make sure customers are giving you five stars. Once you have that, you’ll start to rank higher organically, and you can pay for Yelp ads in your area. It’s hard to tell the difference between a Yelp ad and a listing which can work to your advantage.
Rodney Yo, Owner – Best Online Traffic School
2. Create a Solid Digital Foundation
Whether you own a physical ‘brick and mortar’ store or are 100% online, there is no point spending precious marketing dollars driving potential customers to a website and digital presence that won’t convert them to a sale.
So, what makes a solid foundation for a local business? Here are my 5 steps.
1. A great website that loads quickly, has a valid SSL certificate and is optimized for mobile. Hire a professional or build your own via some of the major online website builders that take the hassle out of hosting for you.
2. Reviews, reviews and more reviews. To boost your business listing in local searches it’s about quantity. Encourage past and present clients to review your Google My Business listing.
3. A Facebook page that is set up as a ‘local business’. This allows people to tag your business page in the many local Facebook Groups when people are asking for recommendations on a daily basis.
4. Google Search Console & Analytics. Register your site on Google search console and link it up to Google Analytics so that you can fix errors and optimize your website content.
If you do these things, you’ll be setting yourself up for local marketing success and will be way ahead of your competition.
Martin Watts, CEO – 8Cats Automotive
3. Find Local Keywords for SEO
Although SEO is often seen by local business owners as difficult or a waste of time, I’ve found it to be a valuable source of leads (both international and local).
For local businesses, I recommend using a local keyword tool like KWFinder to help you choose keywords that your site can potentially rank for. Then, build a few quality links to your site by listing your business on local directories and guest blogging for local and/or relevant websites. In my industry, it didn’t take a ton of backlinks or content to start seeing results.
Don’t focus too much on search volume metrics when your website is still relatively new: You can generate a small but steady stream of leads early on in your campaign if you focus on quality over quantity and target a handful of low-competition keywords, even if the search volume is quite low (even 10 searches per month or less).
Chloe Brittain, Owner – Opal Transcription Services
4. Use Instagram’s Local Features
Use Instagram to do a location-based search on your business. So many brick-and-mortars have been surprised to know that customers – without any prodding from the business – are sharing updates and tagging their location in them. By searching for those tagging your location and simply thanking them, you can show both your customers and potential customers that you’re listening and engaging. For those who respond positively, offer them something to come back so they have more to share on social media.
Spencer X Smith, Founder – AmpliPhi
5. Get Involved
Storytelling is more important than ever, as are visuals if you’re using platforms like Instagram. My area of expertise is branding and publicity for authors, professionals and small businesses. I advise clients to find a local nonprofit that’s aligned with their business objectives – or something they’re passionate about – and to get involved. Learning how to fundraise for a nonprofit, and working with others, is a great way to meet people and get exposure for your business. Taking photos or videos at nonprofit events where you’re a participant is free shareable social media content.
Here are a couple of examples: a moving company helped a local library foundation on the day of its signature event by moving hundreds of silent auction items and decorations to the event venue. Also, an author who wrote a memoir about growing up poor in Guyana organized an international mission trip to provide dental assistance to residents of the town where he grew up. He applied for grants to cover the cost of the trip and a local dental team donated their time and supplies.
Tina Koenig, Literary Consultant & Publicist – https://tinakoenig.com/
6. Invest in Your Reputation
When homeowners in your area are looking for a business nearby, they’re looking for signals that they can trust you. Testimonials from happy customers can go a long way in making people feel comfortable with your company. Online reviews mean a lot. Local Services by Google (which are ads that now show above regular PPC listings for searches for local services) don’t link users to your website at all – they show your name, phone number, and your star rating on your Google Business page – so it’s important to make sure you’re passing the right message along to potential customers.
Laura Simis, Branding & Communications Manager – Coalmarch
7. Be Thorough with Google My Business
Local marketing is all about being found when a potential customer needs your product or services. To that end, it’s imperative that companies establish and verify their Google My Business listing. This listing is responsible for the business showing up on Google Maps as well as in the local pack of a Google search (the top three listings under the map at the top of the search results).
When filling out the information on GMB it’s important to be as thorough as possible. Companies need to make sure they select the right categories of business that are in. For instance, our company is in the in self-storage industry. So, we choose not only “Self-Storage Facility”, but “Storage Facility”, “Moving Supply Store”, “Truck Rental Agency”, and “Packaging Supply Store.” We also put in a description of the business that is keyword optimized for the terms that people are searching for. Lastly, make sure that you verify the business with Google. When you request verification, Google will send the business a postcard with a code on it that must be entered on the GMB page. This signals to Google that the business is legitimate and operational.
Derek Hines, Internet Marketing Specialist – West Coast Self Storage
8. Join Local Organizations
While a Google My Business listing is important, a new business really gets the most value in getting their name in front of the local audiences. Joining the local neighborhood organization will tap you into what the market is looking for and how you can get involved. Through the organization, you can run promotions, be part of their newsletter, get support hosting events, etc. This is really a win-win for everyone involved; more activity makes the community stronger and each activity gets your businesses name out there and raises awareness.
Julie Monahan, Director of Marketing – The Alternative Board
9. Explore Paid Advertising Options
The best way to market a local business is to do so online. With an estimated 46% of all searches having local intent, putting your business in front of users is essential to driving both traffic to your website and revenue for your business.
So how do you market a small business online? When asked this question, I always recommend paid advertising. Starting a paid advertising campaign can help give your website the added online visibility it needs if your organic search traffic is less than stellar. There are dozens of different paid advertising options you can choose from, including Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and even ads on local online directory websites such as Yelp. Paid advertising is a great option because your ad is placed in a strategic location – often above your competitors – on the page. Even if you don’t get clicks, your brand name is front and center and visible to those conducting a local search online.
Audrey Strasenburgh, SEO Strategist – LogoMix
10. Use Word-of-Mouth
I always advise my clientele to market their services exactly the way their huge competitors don’t – locally. They have a knowledge of their geographic prospect marketplace that corporate marketers don’t, so use this vital knowledge to connect with people as if they were actual people – as if the business and the individual prospect could meet face to face one day – because they probably will. Stay in touch with their prospects and give your customers the first opportunity to access special sales, pricing and offers that other prospects won’t get.
Get your customers to speak to your specific market place as an evangelist for you; these word-of-mouth recommendations are always the gold at the end of the marketing rainbow that you need. You don’t know who they know, but these second-level contacts will like you because their friends do.
Steve James, Freelance Marketing Consultant – SmallBizBigBiz
One thing that excites local media is to receive fresh story ideas for seasonal topics like summer vacation, back-to-school, spring break, etc. If a small retailer offers a product or service with a connection to a seasonal topic, then a pitch to local news outlets could net a high-profile placement. For instance, in the run-up to peak summer travel season, a local spa or salon that offers skin products could pitch its sun protection and hydration products to educate consumers about the need to keep skin protected from damaging ultraviolet rays with the most appropriate level of SPF.
Julia Angelen Joy, Account Director – Swyft
12. Local Advertising Affordably
We own a small brick and mortar jewelry store, as well as an online website. One area where we have excelled is through social media. We do Facebook and Instagram advertising for our local store and promote it through geotargeted ads. These ads normally have a special offer, along with pictures of our store and a button for directions. We only advertise 10 miles around our store, which helps with costs and it ensures us that we are going after the right potential customers. This has brought us in 100’s of more followers and dozens of new customers each month to our store. This is something we will continue to do, and we would recommend other small business owners to the same!
Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager – Moriarty’s Gem Art
We hope these 12 tips help offer guidance when promoting a local business. It’s important to take full advantage of modern digital marketing strategies, as well as not to forget to be active in the community where your business resides.