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Quick Guide to Jumpstart Digital Marketing for your Local Business← back
Quick Guide to Jumpstart Digital Marketing for your Local Business
By Maribell Smith
Over the years I’ve had conversations with many local business owners in regards to digital marketing. The conversations can easily go from cool to hot in 3.5 seconds. I’ve heard everything from, “I will start next year” to “Maybe I will have my niece do it for me, she likes computers” (that one still makes me giggle). Here are my three most common rebuttals. Which local business owner are you?
- My customers are not online so marketing is not important.
- Online marketing does not work for us.
- Do you know who we are? We don't need marketing.
With that being said, I know a large part of the hesitation to act is the lack of budget. Regardless of the reason, I would like to equip you with a basic local marketing “to do” list.
First, let’s address the objections mentioned above. The fact is, your current—and maybe more importantly, your potential customers—are online. If you are a local business, and offer anything that can be Googled, your customers are online searching for it. More specifically, they are searching for your services/products on a mobile device. In 2015, Google confirmed mobile search activity surpassed desktop activity. Read this Search Engine Land article for a not-so-dizzying synopsis.
I would love to say that you can do much of the marketing yourself in order to escape paying a marketing agency…but that’s a story in a dream that never happened, in nowhere land. The reality is, as a small business owner, you simply don’t have the time to develop a digital marketing plan. Sure, you may be able to perform small tasks here and there, but you will not be able to maintain and monitor that plan. Like a garden, your digital marketing plan requires upfront work and then ongoing attention to be sure that the initial effort is progressing in an acceptable manner. This type of dedication is simply not realistic for someone who already devotes so much to other essential areas of a small business. My goal is to help you start small in structuring the foundation of your online footprint. When it comes to building your website (and you need a website), unless you have been hiding your passion for web design and SEO, I suggest you seek out a local marketing company to build it for you. I promise you, there is much more that goes into it than meets the eye, and the guidance that an experienced agency can bring to the table will prove invaluable. Stay tuned, as all marketing companies are not created equal. I will follow up on this post with a checklist of questions to ask before deciding which agency to go with.
Guide to jumpstart your digital local marketing efforts:
Claim your Directory Pages
There are two reasons why it’s important to claim your directory pages. One, word of mouth isn’t dead; it’s online and mouthier than ever. Your potential customers are looking for your reviews and information in directories. Two, and equally as important, search engines are looking for the same thing when ranking business in local search results. If you want to stand a chance in ranking in your local results; here are some steps to help you get there.
Before you go all claim crazy though, here are some things you need to have handy:
o Business Name (I know, I know, but just in case)
o Address (City, State and Zip)
o Main Phone Number
o Business Hours
o Description – Minimum of 250 words please!
o Business categories
o Logo and pictures – If you do not have a logo make sure you have some great photos to display your business.
o IMORTANT: Don’t NAP on your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone). Keep the information 100% consistent throughout all directories. This is for SEO purposes and something that Google looks at when deciding whether or not to trust your business information enough to rank you in local search results. I suggest you have all the information pulled up in a word doc so you can easily copy and paste the information into every directory.
- Google My Business: You will not rank in local results if you do not have a Google My Business (extremely important for local businesses). Your customers can quickly see your hours, stars, call, go to website or receive Google Maps directions in one compact area. Go to Google My Business to get started.
- Yelp for Business: Search for your business. You will either find that your business has been claimed or you need to claim it. Claim your Yelp business page here.
- Yellow Pages: Get your free Yellow Pages listing here:
- Yahoo Local: Yahoo gets a little sticky. You can still create a free listing, you just have to take a deep breath and go for it. Eric Shanfelt from Local Marketing Institute covers getting a free Yahoo business listing well in this article.
- Bing Places for Business: Get your Bing listing here. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and choose accordingly.
- Foursquare for Business: Add your Foursquare for Business here. Search for your business name, if you do not find it scroll to the bottom and choose add.
Please note, this is just a starting point for you. I highly suggest googling your phone number in using variations of what it could be. Like, “555-555-5555” and "(555)555-5555". This will bring up other directories that you may never even heard of.... Don't forget to fix those too!
Taking these small steps is a big investment in your local digital marketing. This minimal effort makes a big impact, and that is something. However, the truth is there is a lot more work to be done. Coordinating your directories is just one piece of a one-size-does-not-fit-all puzzle.