5 Things you can do today to promote your local business online
What Can I do today to get more online presence as a local business?
Local reputation matters more than ever!
Why? because the internet is giving people more options.
I've always played the guitar. When I was a teenager there were two music shops in my hometown serving the 500 people who were in a band. So you have a very defined group that knew each other and shared their common interests, which included those two local musical instrument shops.
The most famous shop was Eduardo's, which means Edward in Spanish. He was so famous because he was stingy, he wouldn't even let you try the guitars unless you were determined to buy. So inspired by the movie Edward Scissorhands, the local music community granted him the nickname of Edward 'pennyhands'.
This is absolute truth...
Eduardo had a direct competitor, Carrion music; they did let you try their instruments but they were quite rude and disorganised.
So the local consumer had a dilemma. But suddenly, e-commerce moguls such as Amazon and Musikhaus Thomann came along offering more competitively priced instruments with free delivery and money-back guarantees, which inevitably made the local shops decline.
In short, your local business needs to add all the value it can to the community as well as being widely visible online.
Because your community is online.
Your average neighbour spends one hour a day only on Facebook. If there were 24 websites this wouldn't be very impressive, but there are over one billion websites... plus apps plus bloody robots in your living room.
So what can you do?
The right combination of activities will vary depending on your business and your sector, but in order to get started, you can do any of the following activities.
And if you are excited enough, you can do all of them this week!
1. Have a website that speaks to your local audience
Nowadays having a website is a must. having just a Facebook page is no longer enough. This should not be a problem because you can create your own site very affordably using Wordpress.
Make sure your brand displays lots of social proof, such as testimonials, badges of the associations you belong to, and good reviews from third-party sources.
Example of sexy testimonial
You need to think about your local audience. Ensure your customers have all the information they need to pick up the phone and call you or get into your shop. You don't need lots of text, you can be creative and use a video like the one I made for Tot Rockin Beats (videos of the experience will convince your customers they have no reason to fear you).
2. List your business on Google MyBusiness
Through this tool, Google let you give them information about your local business so they can associate it with specific areas people are searching from. This is the cornerstone of local SEO.
For instance, if you don't get your listing you won't show on the map results shown below.
Google also uses this information when people search for your business directly.
So if you want to find out opening times for a specific shop, you don't need to visit the website of the business because Google gives you that information straight away.
3. Participate in Facebook groups
Go to Facebook and browse all the relevant groups in your community.
The key here is not to be spammy and to give value to the people. As a local business, you might know lots of things about the community your audience don't necessarily now, and people will give you authority for this.
Remember, social media is about engaging and having conversations and should be reflected on your content marketing strategy.
Also, if you see a subject there is no Facebook group locally for, you can start your own. For instance, if you have a bike shop and there aren't any local cyclist Facebook groups, you can start one.
4. Try a Google Adwords campaign
These are the 'ad' results you find on top of many Google searches. You simply pay Google every time people click on those ads and get into your website.
Depending on the searches you want to show for this can be more or less expensive.
Although the cost of some keywords can be prohibitive, I encourage you to give it a try. I used to work as a PPC consultant for a music tuition agency in London and it did work quite well for creating new customers (+40% customer in 2 months!).
example of Google ads
5. Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free tool you can use to see how many people visit your website and where they come from. This is crucial in order to avoid wasting marketing efforts. For example, if you see lot's of people are coming from Facebook, you should then put special attention there.
Now, please don't obsess with metrics. There is a helpless obsession with data in the marketing industry, but the truth is few people know what to do with that data. Along my journey, I have seen just a couple of examples where data has been used insightfully to grow campaigns.
I'll give you an extra thing you should do which has nothing to do with technology:
Treat people nicely and offer an amazing experience with your service. At the end of the day, local businesses need to get people off their phones and laptops and into their establishments and offices. Only here the real connection happens.
I also offer local SEO services for small business.