Marketing at it’s very essence is the matching of buyers with sellers. In order to accomplish this, you have to effectively communicate your business’ products and services to potential customers through the features and benefits uniquely presented by your company. As valuable as marketing is, it can be a challenge to reach your ideal consumer.
Traditional marketing broadcasts your message with a “shotgun” based approach, distributing it to many people across an array of mediums, but is only applicable to a small percentage of these. Because of this, traditional marketing is expensive and hard to measure. As technology has progressed, marketing has slowly become more targeted to specific demographics, enabled largely by the internet, social media, and other online methods.
It is now relatively easy to develop a marketing campaign that focuses on a specific location, such as advertising in a neighborhood paper, or to target a specific demographic, such as advertising a dog-grooming business on a pet lovers website. Even so, it is still challenging to reach the ideal consumer, mainly because of the constraints posed by location.
Location-based marketing, along with demographic marketing, is the missing element. Without it, over 90 percent of ad impressions are wasted on consumers who are outside of your demographic or geographic market. Fortunately, technology has advanced to allow demographic location-based marketing.
In order to attract targeted customers who are interested in your products and services, there are several steps that every business should take:
Target Your Campaign as Specifically as Possible
First, make sure that your campaign is targeted specifically to the geographic location you do business in. Google, Facebook, and others allow you to set up pay-per-click campaigns to target your online advertising efforts based on location and demographic criteria.
This way, when you advertise your nail salon, you can be sure the largest percentage of consumers exposed to your campaign are within the specific demographic and geographic criteria that you’ve specified – your ideal customer!
Use Your Location to Your Advantage
You can use your location to your advantage in promotions by focusing on providing consumer incentives at a hyper-local level. For example, you could provide a time-sensitive coupon to consumers within a few mile radius of your business. Using a mobile marketing strategy can be a huge asset in this area.
Explain Your Location
With geo-location, you can explain your location, preventing a situation where you have a customer who is interested in your business, but doesn’t want to look up directions. Not only could you provide a map, but you could even provide directions from the person’s location (walking, driving, or by bus).
Play up the Novelty
Lastly, make sure that your geo-location marketing campaign plays up the novelty presented by location based marketing. Many companies are now using social networking sites such as Foursquare and Facebook Locations to turn their location into a game. Consumers can “check in” at your location, giving you the opportunity to provide incentives for consumers to visit a specific location more frequently by offering social status (e.g. mayor status, badges), points, or incentives based on the number of visits, such as a free appetizer on your third visit.
Local Internet Marketing should be a key part of growing your business and brand, and to attract more consumers. Local Internet Marketing isn’t just about having a website, it includes being findable in multiple places when local consumers are looking for your product or service.
Smart phones such as the iPhone or Android allow marketers to obtain device location data, and search engines, such as Google, enable consumers to find what they need based entirely on what is near them. Better targeting equals more demand and better conversions.
This is your home base on the internet. If you don’t have an attractive, professional, easy to navigate, and search engine optimized website, all your other online efforts will be largely superfluous. Unless you’re in the fashion or design industry, you probably don’t need a $5,000 – $10,000 flash-based graphically designed site. Your website should be results driven, not accolades driven. If you have the prettiest site around, but no one can find it, what good is it doing you or your business (other than feeding your ego)? The main components of your site are home, products/services, about, contact, and hopefully a blog.
Local Search Optimized
Is your local business showing up in Google Places/Maps, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, etc? These are the first results that display when a potential customer is searching online for your specific niche or industry. 98% of searches stop on page one. If you’re not there, you don’t exist. Google IS the yellow page killer. Yellow pages use is down over 55% since 1999, and growing. 82% of local searches result in an in-store visit, phone call, or purchase. Get listed, get found, get new customers. Simple as that.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn. Everyone is using these social media tools, both personally and professionally. In the new social economy, if you don’t have a presence there, you’re losing business. However, quality is better than quantity. Don’t just set up a profile for your business on every social network out there and then not use them. Pick and choose which ones you can realistically use on a consistent basis and stick with it. If you plan to tweet once a day, then do it. This is much better than 5 times in one day, once a week. Interject your personality into your social media interactions. Be human, not robotic or corporately boring. Customers like to buy from businesses they find interesting, not boring. Set yourself apart from the crowd by being different.
It’s a lot easier and cheaper to get a past customer to buy from you again (assuming they liked what they got the first time) than it is to get a new customer. Any time you make a new sale, you should be collecting your new customers contact info, specifically, email address (and cell phone number, if possible). You have to stay in contact with your customers. That way, you’re at the forefront of their mind when the need arises for your product or service. Don’t spam. Don’t just be selling. Email them a birthday card. Tell them something of interest in your industry. Provide them with valuable, free information that will make them think of you when they need your product/service offerings. This doesn’t need to take much time. Many of these emails can be set up to go out at a predetermined time. A reputable email auto-responder is essential! Aweber & Mail Chimp are two fantastic ones. Having a newsletter sign-up form on your website can help with this. Give more than you take. There has to be some incentive for the customer to part with their valuable contact info. Give them a reason to.
Local Directories & Review Websites
A good majority of internet users will research a business before making a purchase there. Most of this research will be conducted online. There are hundreds of local business directories and review sites that your business can be listed in. Claim your listings. Optimize them with your contact info, website(s), social media accounts, and keywords potential customers will be searching for. Whenever you get a new customer, encourage him to leave a review on your business at one of these sites. Some of the most popular are Yelp, Merchant Circle, Best of the Web, Kudzu, Insider Pages, Angies List, and many more. If you’re in business, it’s inevitable that you will get a negative review from time to time. The two worst things you can do when this happens is to ignore it, or delete it. Be proactive. Address the complaint and attempt to make it right. Go out of your way to satisfy the disgruntled customer. Not only are you providing top-notch customer service, you are setting yourself head and shoulders apart from your competition. Reputation management is the key. Set up a Google alert to email you whenever your business is mentioned online. Pro-activity is the best policy.
If you want to place yourself in front of customers who are activity searching for your product or service right now, pay-per-click is the way to go. You create an ad about your business, set it to only show up if someone is searching for a specific keyword or phrase, and you only pay when someone clicks your ad. The beauty of this system is how specific you can target the ads based upon demographics and geographics. Based upon the web searcher’s IP address, Google knows where they are located, what they searched for previously, and many other useful criteria. If using Facebook ads, there is even more demographic data that can be used, such as age, sex, and multiple interests. If you’re not using search engine marketing or pay-per-click, you should be.
Search engines love blogs, but that is only a minor reason why you should be business blogging. A business weblog should be more personal and slightly less straight laced than the rest of your website. This is a great opportunity to say what you’re really thinking, without the constraints of sounding “corporate” or overly “salesy.” It’s extremely important for a genuine personality has to shine through, this is what will attract people to your blog. If not, it won’t be read, is a waste of time, and can be seen as hypocritical. Transparency is a good thing. It makes the business/writer seem more “real.” And people like to do business with REAL people, not just some company. There are many ways to blog. Traditional text writing, video blogging, and audio podcasting are all effective ways to engage your readers (viewers, listeners) and help your business gain more exposure. The more you blog, the more likely your content will get picked up and distributed across the online world, allowing more people to come in contact with your business. You can put a price tag on free, viral marketing!
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a video worth? YouTube is the second most used search engine after Google. If you’re not using online video to promote your business and engage with potential, current, and past customers, you’re neglecting a huge opportunity. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A $150.00 FlipCam is or basic movie editing software that comes with most computers is all it takes. Testimonials, interviews, business introductions, helpful tips and suggestions, these are all fantastic topics to cover with video. Put them on your website, Google Places page, social media accounts, online directories, and video sharing sites. These will all help your message to get in front of the maximum number of viewers. Be sure to optimize the title of the video with a specific keyword phrase, and the video description with your company website, name, and description of the video.
Anything else you’d add to this list?