Category Archives: marketing local business

office desk with tools for planning marketing budget

How to Get the Most Out of Your Marketing Budget

Every dollar in a small business marketing budget matters, especially when the budget is tight. That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips that help small businesses get the best return-on-investment for their marketing dollar.

Realize that growth requires spending

Unfortunately, small business marketing follows the old adage, “nothing in life is free.” (Though that doesn’t mean it doesn’t can’t be affordable.) While setting up a social media profile may be free, social media marketing is rarely effective unless the profile is maintained regularly with relevant content. The production and maintenance take time, and time is money. However, if marketing on social media is done well, it results in more customers and sales. Effective marketing yields results but effective marketing requires a regular allotment of time (such as a regular check-in with the marketing team or hands-on marketing) and funds.

Make a plan

One of the easiest ways to get the most out of a small business marketing budget is to make a plan. This step results in a documented strategy that ensures the budget is allocated into marketing tactics with a high ROI that can be regularly checked and evaluated. An effective marketing plan starts with a few simple questions and should include a marketing schedule. The schedule should follow the business’ sales cycle and clearly designate the party responsible for executing each tactic.

Choose tactics that target local customers

A marketing plan is only as effective as the tactics included. Small businesses should take this selection a step further and choose tactics that target a local audience, such as local SEO, social media, or on-page website optimization. These tactics typically have the highest ROI and strategically leverage every dollar of a marketing budget. Local SEO and on-page website optimization target local customers by building authority with search engines, allowing them to appear at the top of local searches. These marketing tactics are backed by statics. Search Engine Watch recently published a Google report that stated local searches led 50% of mobile users to a local store.

Outsource when needed

The crux of an effective marketing plan is productive execution. Regular marketing is an important part of building brand awareness and engaging customers. While small businesses tend to believe that marketing is cheaper when done in-house, the opposite actually proves to be true in certain situations. This is where a (quick) evaluation can be an important step toward yielding results. Businesses should ask, “What marketing do we need? Do we have the staff and time to effectively execute the plan?”

The answer might be a clear yes or no, or only a partial positive or negative. For some businesses, it is more cost-effective to outsource part—or all—of the marketing (a request for a quote can answer the question). To be clear, even if the answer is a completely positive and it makes the most sense to completely outsource, businesses still should plan on allocating some time. Regular check-ins and contributions are an important part of creating a custom marketing plan with the same tone and look.  

6 Effective Ways to Make Your Local Business Stand Out

sale sign in business window trying to attract local customers with marketingToday’s customers have a lot of places they can spend their money. Online websites, local stores, big box stores…there an overwhelming number of places for consumers to spend their money.

Why should they choose your business?

The question itself is incredibly common among business owners. The answer is different for every business; however, if analyzed and used correctly, can yield incredible marketing and sales results.

Connect online.

Every business should strive to start a conversation with customers. Create and maintain a complete online presence with an optimized website, blog, and social media sites. Establish a stellar website with content optimized for search engines and created for the target audience (both written and images).

Produce premium content with the same audience in mind and choose the social media sites that are frequented by those users (use this social media demographic chart as a reference). Regularly update the social media sites with relevant content (i.e. videos, images, written content) that the target audience wants to see—and wants to engage with. In essence, use an online presence to create a connection that converts visitors to customers.

Choose a unique tone.

Snarky, smart, fun, professional, silly. Every business should have a tone that sets them apart and makes them unique. Decide on the tone and use it in every marketing effort (i.e. social media, printed materials, e-mails). A distinctive tone paired with properly branded materials makes a business easily identifiable—even among the industry crowd.

Invest in effective local marketing tactics

Be selective about choosing marketing efforts. The most effective tactics are delivered in ways that the target audience communicates, such as sending printed materials to a more experienced demographic. For a local business, tactics with the highest return-on-investment target a local audience, such as local website optimization and content produced with a local focus. Local website optimization is technology that targets customers around a business location and delivers top organic search results during local searches.

Highlight your local community involvement

As a local business, extra care should be taken to not only identify a target gender and demographic, but also a local audience. This is a distinct difference from a national online retailer’s marketing efforts. Make a concerted effort when marketing to showcase community involvement. Share information about local community events, event sponsorships, and relevant local information.

Answer their questions

Customer conversation should be a two-way discussion. Respond to their comments. Deliver exemplary customer service that goes above and beyond their expectations. Answer inquiries promptly, or let the customer know when to expect a response. When replying, ditch the canned responses; engage with responses that sound human and resolve the customer’s issue.

Showcase your “hook”

Every business has a “hook” that makes it different. Showcase it. Fast customer service, unique products or services, a high level of expertise…determine why customers should spend their hard-earned dollars and communicate with them accordingly. Be open and honest. It’s refreshing—and incredibly effective.

Local Businesses: Get Customers to Your Door (and Keep Them Coming Back)

customer headed to local business after looking onlineIf you’re a brick-and-mortar business, it’s the million dollar question: how do you increase the amount of customers who walk through the door—and keep them coming back? The answer may not be as tangible as your company’s location (computers and the internet never are), but the results—customers walking in the door, contacting you, coming back time and time again—are real and rewarding as your business grows.

Target local customers (not just everyone!).

It’s hard to look at a crowd and not see dollar signs, but to effectively market you need to thin the crowd. As tempting as it might be to take a “the more the merrier” approach, it makes more cents (pun intended) to target your local customers. Customers residing thousands of miles away aren’t going to be ordering your product or services; you need them to be able to walk in the door.

As such, invest your budget to marketing tactics that targets your local customers: emails, mail marketing pieces, local search engine optimization. All three of these options target local customers in zip codes around your business. Email marketing does require an initial visit—-either in your store or on your website—but has a high return on investment if you deliver valuable information (not only sales information) to them every month. The return on your mail marketing pieces depends on value, whether the method fits your demographic, and—similar to your email—whether your piece delivers some value to your customer.

The third tactic, local search engine optimization, is verified by an important statistic: more than 90% of all customer searches for information start with on a search engine. The rise of mobile marketing has led to larger stakes: more than ¾ of all mobile searches end in an offline sale. Local search engine optimization targets your local customers (in zip codes within miles of your location) so they get the information they’re looking for—and the call-to-actions that lead them to contact your business (either in-person, via email or phone).

Build a solid foundation to your local marketing plan.

A block tower with a heavy top load is going to topple without a strong base. When marketing your business, this means you can promote your website—the base of your marketing—as much as you want; however, if your website isn’t strong, it’s not going to drive customers to you.

A strong website is comprised of a strong structure built for search engines, content targeted at your customers, call-to-actions that produce results, and contact information that makes it easy for your customers to contact you. Once you’ve built a strong website (more information about strong websites here), you can build a marketing plan with strategic promotion (i.e. social media, email marketing, local SEO, etc.)

Make your social media site very local-minded.

If social media is part of your marketing plan, show your customers why they should stop in. This recommendation comes with one disclaimer: you don’t want your customers to feel like you are screaming advertisements at them. Mix photos of your store and personnel, information of upcoming specials and sales, and other relevant tips and information in to your targeted marketing plan. Since you are local, add one other key component to your social media plan: information and pictures from local community events. Show your business is part of your community.

Take customer service to the next level.

There is one factor that can set your business apart from your national competitors, and studies have shown that customers are willing to pay more for it: prompt and excellent customer service. Now it’s your turn to prove it—every way your customers contact you. Respond promptly to e-mails, social media inquiries, phone calls, and in-person requests. Use these tips to respond, and respond quickly; prompt means within hours, or even minutes, of when the question comes in. Don’t shy away from a response if the inquiry is negative. Instead, use the opportunity to showcase your customer service skills. If the request is public (such as on social media), ask the customer to privately message you with details.

Monitor your online reviews.

Online reviews may seem inconsequential to your local business, but the reality is that online reviews can majorly impact your business. Social media and local review sites are full of negative and positive information left by your customers. Your potential customers see that information as they research your business, which is why you need to monitor the reviews and take steps to resolve negative reviews. If you want to make the process easier, contact a marketing firm with an automated system that informs you when reviews come in and gives you time to respond.