In celebration of Small Business Saturday on November 25th, here’s lots of great information and resources for local business marketing. These helpful tips and techniques will help you get the most from being a local business and be better able to grab your share of the pie.
Research shows that:
• 74% of all online activity is related to local content.
• 51% of searchers are characterized as “shop online, purchase offline.”
• 50%+ of all Google searches have local content (meaning that the searcher used geography words in their search).
• 82% of local online searchers follow up their search with a phone call or physically visit the business.
• 61% of local searches result in a purchase.
Further according to the non profit, Institute for Local Self-Reliance:
• Spending $100 at a national chain store located in your neighborhood results in a 14% contribution to your local community.
• Spending that same $100 at a small business results in a whopping 48% of your money contributing directly to your local community!
Here are some tips you can use to get the word out locally online:
1. Get yourself listed on all major search engines by claiming your listing. Go to moz.com, plug in your URL. Based on results, follow the directions to claim your listing on all the local search engines. Note: Now more than ever the use of mobile devices means that you should stake your claim online so your listing is geo-mapped for those on the go so they can find you using their phones.
2. Get your URL listed in local directory programs such as Yelp, Citysearch, SuperPages, MerchantCircle, Foursquare, Google, and HotFrog. Then, ask your best customers to post online reviews on your behalf – they work! (Big note here: If you find you have negative reviews, do your best to respond to them.) Don’t let negative online reviews catch you blindsided – respond quickly and professionally. Do this visibly online by acknowledging the comment and stating you’ll contact the person offline to remedy the situation.
3. Make it easy to get to you by having your phone number and address on your home page as well as contact page.
4. Try Google Adwords advertising and Google My Business (formerly Google Places) gets your business found on local search results on both Google Search and Google Maps.
5. Use #ShopSmall and #ShiftYourSpending in your social media channels.
6. Make sure your website is agile and can adjust for all screen sizes — especially mobile. Not sure if it does? You can test that here.
What about off-line? Try these tips:
1. Get yourself a sandwich board to place curbside so passersby can see your sign before they’re in front of your location (then potentially drive right by it).
2. Invest in the best signage you can (neon, bright colors, banners) to get noticed.
3. Tout ‘locally owned’ in all your marketing copy.
4. Use your location to gather emails from customers so you can stay in touch.
5. Engage any front line employees in your marketing so they put forth the effort necessary to get to know your customers’ names, needs, etc. and can anticipate them. For example, whenever I go to my favorite local restaurant they know what I drink and start making it as soon as I walk in the door.
6. Create special holiday offers such as gift coupons, extended hours, delivery, special orders and the like.
7. If you’re located in an out of the way spot be sure to tie your location to a more well known one. For example, “Located just behind the movie theatre on Main Street.”
So…now that we know how much small businesses contribute to our local communities take comfort in knowing that:
• Smaller businesses are more flexible – this can translate into better operating hours for the neighborhood, a better and more targeted selection of merchandise, etc. By knowing the preferences of your neighbors, you can outperform your larger competitors.
• Smaller businesses have more loyal customers – yes, national chains have ‘loyalty programs’ but the best loyalty program I know is to walk into a local business and be greeted by my name!
• You do not have to compete on price – for better service, a more personalized experience, better location, etc. people will pay a bit more and you will not be showroomed. The small business environment is less bureaucratic – no one oversees you therefore you can easily special-order items, not fall prey to ‘minimums’ or any other inane, mind-numbing excuses the big stores use.
• More than anything, the experience someone has doing business with you can outshine anything the big guys are able to handle – so do all you can to make sure the experience is positive.
• Lastly, smile and say thank you – it goes a long way toward repeat business that leads to loyalty.