by Anna Crowe
If you’re one for keeping up with online marketing trends, then you’ve probably noticed that local marketing isn’t really an option anymore-it’s a necessity for business growth. In today’s world, nearly one out of four marketers is spending over 50 percent of budgets on local programs and promotions. As a result, it’s time to take a closer look to see how you measure up. In this 2-part series, we’ll share some simple ways to help keep you ahead of the pack in your local marketing strategy. First up, social.
Google+ (Google Plus) isn’t just an ordinary social media site. Since combining with Google Places, Google+ has become a platform worthy of a small business owner’s attention. By featuring company information, photos and contact details on the search page, this network allows your business to be highly visible to the rest of the community. To make the most of your Google+ account, try:
- Optimizing your ‘About’ section to include links to your website and social channels. This ‘About’ section should also include your address, hours of operation, and a mission statement that links out to relevant pages on your website. Lastly, make sure to “Verify” your local page listing by requesting a Google postcard. This will allow your listing to show up in Google Maps. Below is an example of a Google+ Local Business page filled out correctly AND verified.
- Host Google+ Hangouts with other local community members – think about asking businesses from the Chamber of Commerce to join in on monthly Hangouts to share expertise.
- Being active in Google+ Communities is a great way to get your own content shared by other relevant industry experts that may lead to potential conversion opportunities.
**Insiders Tip: A link or Mention to your Google+ Business Page is just as powerful as a link to your actual website.
Foursquare isn’t just about checking in, it’s about discovering the local neighborhood and how consumers interact with local businesses. After claiming your business on Foursquare, it’s important to start engaging the locals. With 1.5 million businesses on Foursquare, here are a few techniques to stick out amongst the noise:
- Offer a special. Are you an owner of a coffee shop? Try offering a free cup of coffee for every third check-in or ask customers to tweet their check-in to receive a free cup of coffee. It works.
- Promote your updates. By using Foursquare’s ad platform, you can increase visibility of posts and increase the likelihood that the most relevant consumers within your target area are seeing these posts. Check out how JustSalad does their Foursquare advertising.
- Share tips. Complimenting other local businesses is a great way to receive a compliment back. Next time you’re out to eat, add a positive tip or review.
When it comes to local marketing, you can’t leave Facebook out of the picture. However, the days of “free” social marketing seem to be coming to an end. With most social channels pushing brands to monetize content in a more pay to play game, it’s hard to get your message across without an ad budget. But does Facebook advertising actually work? There are some larger businesses that have doubts about advertising on Facebook while others, Facebook has proven to lead to sales conversions. If you’re not raining money like most startups, it may be difficult to allocate a budget to ad spend. This is where content comes into play. In 2014, we’re going to see an increase in distribution of content; therefore automation is going to play a key role in small business success. In addition, quality content that can differentiate you from your competition is also going to keep your head above water. Invest the time to really tell a story that connects with your current consumers. It will be worth it.
4. Pinterest Place Pins
By adding community boards with interactive maps to your Pinterest page, you can cross promote with other locals. Use attractive photos that are relevant to your location and business, and aim for those repins! When creating your Place Pins board, be sure to check the following:
- Choose the appropriate category for topic (i.e. “Travel”)
- Click “Add Map” on.
- Add a keyword-rich description with a relevant link to your website.
In the next part of this two-part series on local marketing, we’ll take a closer look at local directories, incentives, responsive web design and mobile marketing as some of the most practical ways to use local marketing for a small business.
Anna Crowe is a self-taught dreamer of innovation, a flower child of her generation and self-proclaimed world beer enthusiast. In the real world, when the cape comes off, Anna is a freelance writer/wannabe blogger, digital media marketer and mom of Norman, the basset hound. She also loves peanut butter. Follow her on Twitter.