Local Business Marketing – 10 Tools to Include in Your Online Marketing Plan Toolkit

Local business marketing online is an essential piece of your local business’s profit model, as it will enable you to be successful today and for years to come. It’s the local residents who become your lifetime customers. Small business owners frequently fail when they don’t acknowledge the significance of local advertising online.

Promoting your local business online means reaching out to your existing clientele as well as your future customers. Gone are the days when you could just put some ads in local newspapers and the customers would pour in. Today when someone is looking for a product or service, they usually go online and search through Google, Yahoo or one of the other search engines. What is happening more and more is, when somebody conducts a search, they type in the city name and the thing they are looking for (i.e. “Vancouver piano movers” or “piano mover in Vancouver”) in order to narrow down the search. The growing popularity of this type of search is providing a huge opportunity for you, as a local business owner, to promote your company.

Local business marketing is all about creating relationships. Your website becomes your virtual business and prospective clients get to know you through the information they get there. This is why branding and trust building needs to be a vital part of your local Internet marketing strategy. Buyers today are savvy and generally have a short attention span. The first thing they look for is social proof (reviews/testimonials) and trust factors. If you include personal pictures of yourself and your staff and also add your personal story, it makes your website feel more believable and trustworthy.

There are many other components to a successful local business marketing plan. The following is a list of some of them:

1. Local Keyword Research – you can search for strongly appropriate local terms (ie: florists in Vancouver) by using keyword tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool or WordPot, both of which are free.

2. Local Business Search – you can submit your business information to local search listings such as Google Local and Yahoo Local. These are great to use for getting more traffic to your site. More traffic equals more customers.

3. Online Business Directories – there are many directories you can submit your site to. For instance there are the major directories, local directories, niche directories and review directories. By submitting to as many of these directories as you can you will be building credibility and trust by showing up in many places on the Internet. This also is a great way to build backlinks, reviews and local ranking. Some of these directories are a very good source of traffic, too.

4. Article Marketing – article marketing is the practice of writing content rich articles for use on your website, or multiple other sites, to drive traffic and backlinks to your main site. This is a powerful and effective tool that is often underestimated. When you submit an article to the article directories, if someone likes it, they can put it on their website or blog and, the next thing you know, it’s gone viral and you could find yourself being considered an expert in your field. That’s a good thing because it means lots more traffic. Remember…more traffic equals more customers!

5. Blogs and Web 2.0 – blogs and web 2.0 (social networking sites) are another way to publish content or share information over the Internet. When you are blogging, using Twitter or Facebook etc, it is very important to be consistent. You should post to these sites weekly at the very least.

6. Internet Video – using Internet video is extremely powerful both on-site and off-site. You can use videos to grab attention, brand yourself, build trust and educate. It’s a great way to get rankings in the search engines and pull searchers to your website. It’s also gets you exposed in multiple places. When you submit your videos to online video sites like YouTube and SmugMug, they can “go viral” just like your articles can.

7. Online Press Releases – this is another powerful way to provide exposure, credibility and backlinks for your local business. If you use SEO (search engine optimization) tactics on your press release, you could get it ranked highly on the search engines and get more great exposure. Sometimes, if a press release is very informative and/or entertaining, the local newspaper, TV or radio picks it up. As you can imagine, that kind of publicity is invaluable.

8. Geo-targeted Pay Per Click Advertising – this tactic is the quickest way to get traffic and the quickest way to test keywords. It can be, however, the quickest way to spend your online local business marketing budget. Depending on how much Google, Yahoo or Bing decides to charge you every time your ad gets clicked on, this method of advertising your business could be profitable or disastrous. If you are new to PPC, please be careful. The cost can accumulate really quickly.

9. Classified Ad Sites – these sites, like Craigslist for example, are another super way to get traffic and backlinks. Because they are free sites, they are a great tool for testing the rankability of keywords. A lot of these sites allow you to Social Bookmark your ad which will add backlinks to your website. An additional advantage to these sites is that you can ping your ad. When you ping your ad you are attracting the attention of the search engines, pointing them to your ad and thus to your site.

10. Audio Marketing – this is another fantastic tool to provide rich content both on-site and off-site. Audio marketing gets your visitors engaged and it is much more memorable than text alone. Using audio also makes the message more personable. Having testimonials on audio makes them more powerful and believable.

These are but a few of the local business marketing tools that you can use to grow your customer base enormously. They are, however, extremely time consuming and they do require Internet marketing knowledge and skill. A lot of small business owner’s have neither the time nor the expertise to implement a successful marketing plan. In these cases, perhaps the best marketing tool of all is the local business marketing firm or consultant. Whether you decide to tackle your online marketing on your own or hire a professional, local online advertising is critical to the success of today’s local businesses.

There are over 1 billion local searches done every month. Are your future customers finding you?

Vicki Fjellner is a local business marketing professional and owner of Local-BusinessMarketing.com located in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Please visit Local-BusinessMarketing for further information.

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