In our hyper-connected world, we are constantly bombarded with messages from companies trying to sell us their products. Whether it’s a product we’ve heard of or an unfamiliar brand, we can usually find reviews of the product online and through social media sites.
However, not all of these reviews are created equal. A well-thought-out review written by someone with a proven track record will generally carry more weight than a quickie blog post.
If you’re looking for a way to promote your product or service locally, and don’t want to spend a huge amount of money on paid advertising, then you might want to consider investing in some organic SEO and content marketing.
Here, we’ll run down the basics of online marketing for small businesses, including how to get started, what tools to use, and how to position yourself for success.
Why Local Marketing?
As a business owner, marketer, or sales professional, you’ll no doubt have heard of the term “location-based marketing” or “local marketing”.
If you’re curious as to why local marketing is becoming so popular, it’s because people are finally realizing that branded products imported from China, or whatever country this year’s hot commodity is from, won’t bring in the revenue they promise. In other words, if you want to be successful in business, it’s time to get creative and come up with a plan to promote your product or service locally.
How to Get Found Locally
If you’re looking to get started with local marketing, then the first thing you’ll need to do is decide what you want to promote. You might decide that you want to promote yourself as a business – if so, great! You’ll then want to consider what services you can provide, and how you can use technology to make your life easier as a business owner.
For example, if you’re the owner of a painting company, and you want to promote your services as a painter in your area, you could start by setting up a listing on sites like Yelp, or Bing Reviews. You can also use websites like Google My Business to enhance your online presence.
Once you’ve set up these sites with your business information, it’s time to start getting reviews!
Each review you create will serve as a mini-ad for your business. When someone decides to write a review about your business, or buys a product from your company, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with them via your business’ social media site of choice.
Remember: reviews can be very positive or very negative. If you want to create positive results, you need to do several of these reviews, rather than relying on one. This is also why creating excellent reviews takes so much work. You’ll want to put in the time to make sure each review is well-written and offers both sides of the story. A good review should always include something new for the reader, something that they didn’t know about your business – but also include the pros and cons of doing business with you.
What Are the Best Online Marketing Tools?
While reviews are an important part of any business’ online marketing plan, so is the ability to attract new customers to your website through online marketing tools. If you’re serious about expanding your business locally, you’ll want to consider what tools can help you do that.
Apart from reviews, you can also use platforms like Google My Business, which can help establish your business’ social media presence across various online directories and platforms. You can also use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to attract potential customers to your business. These platforms allow you to engage with your audience and find people who might be interested in your product or service.
As a business owner, marketer, or sales professional, you’ll no doubt have heard of the term “inbound marketing”. The philosophy of inbound marketing is simple: people come to you, rather than you go to them. You focus on providing value and useful information to people, and in return, they’ll do business with you.
Inbound marketing is all about engaging with potential customers at every stage of their journey, rather than just relying on traditional paid advertising.
Where Do I Start?
If you’re looking for resources, the best place to start is Google. Conduct a search for your local area and type in “marketing tools”. You’ll then see a list of resources, including blogs, websites, and social media platforms that you can use to grow your business.
Creating a Blog
Blogs are one of the simplest and most effective ways to establish an online presence and get found locally.
A blog is a type of website that can be very beneficial to a business, especially if you want to establish yourself as an expert in your industry. It’s a good place to build a brand, and engage with potential customers. You can use a tool like Blogger to quickly get up and running with a basic blog in no time.
If you want to take your blog to the next level and start generating revenue, then you might want to consider creating and curating content for other sites and platforms. Back in 2011, WordPress became the most popular content management system in the world. As of this year, it’s estimated that there are over half a billion websites built on the platform. If your industry is well-established, and you want to keep your customers close to home, then creating a WordPress blog might just be the right fit for you.
Once you’ve got a basic understanding of how blogs work, its time to move on to the next stage of local online marketing: building a following.
You might decide that you want to create a Twitter account for your business, and use the platform’s “Find my Twitter” tool to see who is following you and who might be interested in what you have to say.
You can use tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to get connected with people who can help you grow your business.
Getting Found On Reviews
If you run a business, then you’ll no doubt be aware of Yelp. With over 45 million reviews, and counting, it’s one of the biggest review sites around. If you decide to take the review route to market your product or service, then you can use sites like Yelp to drive traffic to your business.
Bing reviews is also a great place to get found locally. With tens of millions of reviews across a variety of industries, from travel to finance and insurance, you’re bound to find something that your business provides.
However, not all reviews are created equal. As a business owner, marketer, or sales professional, it’s your job to sort through the reviews and discern which ones are valuable to you. Remember: not all reviews will be created equal. Only by investing the time to discern these valuable nuggets of information will you be able to transform the mediocre reviews into real opportunities to grow your business.
If you want to attract potential customers to your business without having to spend too much time developing organic online marketing initiatives, then paid advertising might be the right fit for you.
This is also known as “traditional marketing”, and can be very effective when used in combination with other marketing platforms and tactics. If your industry isn’t as established as others, then paid advertising might not be the right fit for you. However, if you want to be able to reach a wider audience, and are looking to gain popularity, then paid advertising might be a good option for you.
There are several platforms, like Google Adwords, that make paid advertising very easy to implement.