In this age where everyone is mostly on their smartphones or computers, a business, whether local or multi-national should never miss out an opportunity to be seen by potential customers and to do that, they should have a strong local business marketing strategy.
Building an online presence shouldn’t just be established by business who conduct transactions online, whether you’re a restaurant or a shopping mall, you should make yourself available to your customers online. When they do an online search for you, they expect to see information about your business. If it goes the other way, it could really damage your chances of engaging with your customers or even a possible sale which instead would now go to your competitor.
Still not convinced that marketing your local business online is essential? Here are a few more reasons why:
1. To have potential customers find you
Let’s say you have a restaurant business that serves steak 24-hours a day for 7 days a week. A prospect customer is suddenly craving for a medium-rare steak. So they immediately turn in to their phone and search for “24-hour steakhouse in Pasadena”.
Your company website shows up on the top search result, and they visit it. If they’re satisfied or very impressed with the menu, customer reviews, and assured that you can provide what they needed, you just got yourself a customer. Probably a loyal one at that.
People in the 21st century want information that is accessible and fast. They most likely search for that information online. Any customer would not make the effort of browsing online just for you. Whether they were looking for your business or not, it’s better to be visible when they search for products and services that you also offer.
That’s what online presence can contribute to your local business success, being present every time potential customers look for your products/services online.
2. To reach your customers
Folks in today’s generation revolve around the digital world. Even if your business caters to the local audience, the best way to gain more customers and raise your yearly revenue is to reach them online.
There are several options as to how you can reach your customers online. You can run ads, sponsor online events, and execute a well-planned SEO strategy. Marketing your business online works in both ways. You got to make sure your customers can find you, while at the same time you should also reach to your prospective customers.
3. To build a relationship with customers
There’s always a place for something online. For building relationships and connecting with your audience? Social media sites are constantly the best ones.
You may have first met with your customers on search engines or in online review platforms, but social media is where they would interact with people and business. It is also the perfect place to truly get to know them by themselves as real people.
If your business currently doesn’t have its own social media page, most primarily on Facebook, you’re definitely missing out on a lot of opportunities to connect with your target audience that are looking or interested in your products or services.
4. To beat your competitors online
Keeping up with what your competitors are up to is essential to know what works and what doesn’t in your industry.
Try searching for your business keyword on Google. If your competitor was listed in the results and your business wasn’t, you’re not even in the running. Your potential customers can’t find or know your business even exist if you don’t implement local business marketing strategies.
Right now, you might think online marketing won’t do anything worthwhile for your business. But if you start your local marketing campaigns now, your online presence would eventually grow, and it would help you attract more customers in the long run.
5. To establish and showcase your brand online
Developing an online business is one thing, but promoting a brand for your business is another. To build a brand, your online marketing, and customer satisfaction must go hand-in-hand. Meaning, you have to be known online, while at the same time, being memorable enough to your customers that they sing praises about your service/products online.
Your business’s brand online is how people will perceive what you have to offer. Give them the reason that you’re the best at what you do or sell and make sure to live up to their expectations.
This might be the most challenging thing to balance because running a business together with online marketing is hard enough. But it really is worth the effort.
How to Start with Local Business Marketing
Get to know your audience
Before you even start devising the online marketing plan for your business, you as a business owner should reflect and think about the characteristics of your customers. Who are they and what are they up to?
Let’s say you run a vegan restaurant business. Are your usual customers millennials starting their journey to a vegan lifestyle? Or probably health-conscious people in their 30s who are looking for a go-to restaurant after hitting the gym? Don’t base your business according to what you want your audience to be. Instead, base it on the customers’ interest and groups who are actually buying and paying you.
Once you’ve figured out the numbers, you can then start creating a local business marketing plan targeting your best-paying customers.
Build an official business website
As local business owners, acquiring an official business website might be the last thing you have in your mind right now. But according to recent studies, only around 60% of small and local business have a website as of 2018.
Even if a website is not a requirement, it is necessary to have one if you want your online presence to flourish. In this digital age, word-of-mouth marketing is simply just not enough to bring you any business. Having a website creates the impression that you’re a well-established business. You’re utterly making your business information available 24/7.
If a potential customer is looking for a particular type of service or information about a product, the first thing they do is run a quick search online. If your business is nowhere to be found on the search results, you just lost yourself a possible loyal customer that now went to your competitor.
Engage in Social Media
Be where your customers are. For most of the time, they’re on social media sites. Engage with them. Keep them up-to-date with what’s new with your business. Run promos and gimmicks to increase your brand engagement and following. But the most important one is to promptly answer any of their inquiries and reviews.
When it comes to engaging with your target audience and customers, spend most of your time engaging on the social media platform where they usually frequent. Depending on where your business location is established, you might have more engagement from Twitter rather than on Facebook. Remain active on both accounts to be reachable to your customers wherever and whenever.
Boost your online presence
Waiting for your target customers to find your business organically, takes time. It will usually take up to 3 to 6 months before you can start to see any major improvements depending on your business type.
If you want to find out right away if your local marketing strategy is on point, you may boost your online visibility through ads.
Choose the best platform to run your ads is crucial. If you have enough data, select the best online platform your customers usually contacts you. Whether it be Facebook, Google Search, or Twitter. Then, set your audience, your daily budget, ad copies, and conversion tracking. Be sure to set an estimated date range to run your ads. Then by the end of your campaign date, evaluate your results if it met your expected ROI.
Portia is a Marketing Specialist at Meegle. She handles anything that involves SEO, Content Management, and everything else in between.