The mistake that some business owners make when taking their business online is to forget all about local business marketing. Because the reach is generally worldwide, they think about the potential of reaching this huge audience rather than acquiring customers from local areas.
Most small businesses are very local in nature. If you’re a plumber or a contractor or an attorney, getting customers from across the country or around the world won’t help you out very much. And even if you can take customers from anywhere in the world, many entrepreneurs would rather deal locally because it’s so much easier.
But until more recently, limiting your online marketing to your local community has been very difficult. There was no way to tell the search engines that your focus is a specific geographic area. But that has all changed with the advent of Google Places (used to be called Google Local Business Center) and Maps, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Local. When used in conjunction with local directory sites like Yelp and Yell.com, you can do just that.
Note: Localizing your online marketing like this won’t stop your site from showing up in worldwide search results or keep people anywhere from stopping by and looking. What it will do, however, is make sure that when someone in your service area searches Google or the other search engines for your product or service, your business will be listed in the local search results…which show up before the natural search results.
4 Step Local Business Marketing Plan
Your local online marketing effort should revolve around four distinct areas:
- Identifying your ideal customer(s) and developing customer profiles for them. These profiles should include demographic information like sex, neighborhood, number of children, their job, how much they earn, etc. Profiles should also include what your customer wants when they purchase from you; i.e. are they trying to relieve stress, are they dealing with a fear, or are they trying to reach a particular goal? The more you know about who your ideal customer is and why they buy from you (emotional reasons, not factual reasons), the better you’ll be prepared for the following steps.
- Building a direct response website instead that’s focused on your customer’s needs and desires rather than you and your products or services. Every page you put up should have a very clear goal and fit into your overall content development plan.
- Gaining trust with your visitors and building raving fans by developing content and products or services that serves your ideal customer’s needs and desires.
- Getting found by your customers. Online, it’s called driving traffic and it’s the lifeline of any online marketing strategy. Local business marketing online has a few advantages over national or worldwide online marketing. For example, you can utilize the local search engines like Google Places, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Local. By placing content in strategic places all over the internet, you can rank at the top of both Google local listings and their regular (organic) listings.
It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting your local business marketing efforts online, or you’ve been struggling with it. Design your online marketing and content development strategy to Get Found, Gain Trust, and Build a customer base!