What’s the best way to promote your small business locally? Word of mouth, great reviews, and referrals are ideal and key to the survival of any business, but they’re also long-term results.
To increase local foot traffic, gain momentum, keep customers coming back, or to simply get the word out to more people, what marketing initiatives should every owner invest, especially with tight budgets and little time? Equally challenging, what marketing initiatives should a business owner focus on when there are an overwhelming number of options available today?
To help, we’ve highlighted five of the most fundamental, yet essential marketing efforts you should use to promote your business locally. Better yet, you can implement almost all of these suggestions today, even by yourself.
1. Google Adwords
With the right demographic, geographic, and keyword targeting, Google Adwords can be an asset to customer acquisition. Adwords, Google’s powerful marketing platform, provides advertisers the ability to serve ads to users who search for a specific ‘keyword,’ within a certain city, state or DMA, and who fit specific behavioral criteria. As the theoretical owner of a Brian’s Pizza Shop in Potomac, Maryland, I could potentially target any user who searches for the keyword “pizza” in Potomac, MD between the ages of 21 and 60, between the hours of 10am-10pm.
Want more info about Google Adwords? Check out this post: 4 Ways to Effectively Advertise Your Small Business Using Google Adwords
2. Facebook Ads
Do you have a website and are looking for increased search engine real estate? Do you need a platform to communicate with customers? Facebook provides solutions to both. As a platform that allows potential customers to find basic business specific information (hours of operation, location, website, etc), it also serves as a medium for discussion, particularly amongst your customer evangelists.
And although we don’t suggest investing an overt amount of time publishing posts and announcements due to Facebook’s algorithm changes, Facebook also boasts a much improved advertising platform that will serve ads in the Newsfeed and Right Hand Column of your desired audience.
Facebook advertising is powerful – similar to the geographic and demographic targeting available in Adwords, Facebook offers the added benefit of shares, Likes, and comments. Consider all three interactions to result in ‘free’ impressions, likely to be surfaced in the Newsfeed of friends and family who may very well reside in similar locations. Additionally, shares, Likes, and comments act as a personal referral and vote of confidence from trusted sources.
The one caveat is that Facebook is not the cheapest advertising mediums, with CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) that can normally run between $5 and $20, depending on your target audience and device type.
Want more info on Facebook ads? Check out this post: 3 Effective Ways to Use Facebook Ad Targeting for Your Small Business
3. Local Search Listings
Aside from verifying that your business does in fact exist and that you are the owner, a local listing on Google and Bing will allow you to manage and own prime real estate on the web whenever customers are searching for you. Not only will your business return as a prominent results in search engines, but on most platforms, you’ll also appear on all available syndicate platforms (think Google Maps, Google+, etc).
Your customers will also be able to provide ratings and offer ratings of your products/service, allowing you to build a relationship with the folks that pay the bills.
4. Email Marketing
Once you’re driving visitors to your website, taking orders over the phone or in person, and spending precious advertising dollars on acquiring new customers, it’s vital that you maximize the value that can be generated from each customer. It’s called lifecycle marketing, but communicating regularly with your customers through any number of channels with the right message and offer is pivotal.
Constant Contact and MailChimp, amongst others, provide reliable email deliverability and an outstanding user experience that makes communicating with your user base easy. The key is to start aggregating these customer emails today, and not tomorrow. Each customer email that goes uncollected is another customer that could be lost forever.
5. Loyalty Marketing
Customer loyalty marketing is one of the fastest growing marketing strategies for businesses of all sizes. As of 2015, more than 3.3 billion U.S. consumers are reported to belong to a customer loyalty program – A 26% increase since 2013 according to Colloquy. Big brands including Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Taco Bell, Macy’s, AT&T, Chili’s, and Rite-Aid added loyalty programs to their marketing mix in 2015, and easy-to-use, affordable, yet robust loyalty program options are even more accessible for small businesses.
Why the sudden interest loyalty marketing? It’s more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to nurture current ones, or win back “lost” customers. Like email marketing, loyalty marketing strategies also include building a database of customers, which you can then communicate with on a regular basis, at a much lower cost. Several loyalty programs also include email marketing, text message marketing, data analysis, automated messaging and more within their suite of tools.
An effective loyalty program also gets your current customers to come back more often (by any where from 20-70+%), and 64% of people who belong to loyalty programs say they spend more at each visit.
Want more info about loyalty marketing? Check out these posts: How and Why Loyalty Marketing Really Works, or Want Loyal Customers? Don’t Fall for These 5 Myths.
With these five essential marketing strategies, your small business should be well on its way to reaping the benefits of increased local sales. Have any questions, comments, or ideas of your own? Write us in the comments section below.