Where & How to Start Local Marketing Online
The “Where” and “How to” of Local Internet Marketing: What is Internet Marketing Online for my Small Business?
The most important thing that business owners need to know is that many of the best online marketing tools are available for Free! With a little bit of direction, every business can increase their visibility online today with little or no expense. Google Maps / Google Local Business Listings (Google Places), Yellow Pages, Bing, Yahoo Local, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are just a few of the major Local Directory and Social Media websites where you will want to create accounts for your business. The first step to being found online is getting your name out there. It does not cost anything to get your business on Google maps. It’s in Google’s best interest for you to populate their map with the best verified local business information. Any Media Agency or Internet Marketing Firm that builds you an online marketing plan will have to follow these same basic steps before implementing any strategies. After understanding the work and planning involved to launch a successful internet marketing campaign, hiring a professional to manage the ongoing parts of the process may ultimately be the best solution for your company. However, as a business owner, by really knowing what internet marketing entails will help you align your goals and visions for your company online. In subsequent articles, I will detail each of the best practices for businesses on these websites, but for now I will focus on how to get started.
The easiest way to start local marketing online is to sign up with Universal Business Listing. Their service distributes your businesses profile to all major search engines, social networks, digital maps, and online business directories for a small annual fee. List Once, Be Found Everywhere. Simply fill out your businesses information and UBL will regularly update and check your information to make sure that you are listed accurately on all major search platforms. Gain access to free tools to monitor the accuracy of your business identity online.
Here’s how to create your business profile with Google Places:
Step 1) Claim / Create your Listing – If your business has been at it’s online and physical address for a few years, it’s likely that the major directories have already attained some form of your business information through user generated submissions or scraping data from other directories and are already displaying it. What is really important here is that once you claim your business listing, it can not be edited by individuals. You can create a cohesive and accurate listing to be posted to all of these accounts that only you can edit. Some websites like Google Places will require that you physically confirm that you are the business owner of that location. Google will send you a secret pin number either by mail or they will give it to you over the phone depending on how much of your information has been verified online already. That pin number will be used to activate your account.
Step 2) Update your business information – The more information you are able to provide about your company the better. Name, Email, Number, Address, and Business Hours are a must. There are also industry specific things that you should be sure to include in your profile. For example, if you are a restaurant, it is crucial that you have a picture of your menu or a link to where it is located on your website. Be sure to include at least as much information as your major competitors in your profile. Having a blank profile is worse than having no profile at all. A blank profile says that you knew this was something you were supposed to do, but you have not been able to do it.
Step 3) - Intrigue and Engage – These platforms are yours now to use as tools for your business. There are no costs required to post advertisements about your business to your own profiles for these sites however, each has their own unique ways to promote your business in the directory which can also include paid advertisements. Create content that will make visitors want to learn more about your product or service. Offer a discount or coupon for joining your mailing list or becoming a fan on Facebook. Promote a special through your Foursquare, give the winning mayor of your business each month a free Lunch. Have a standing offer for all users who leave you a Google Places or Yelp review to receive a discount on their next visit.
Step 4) Rinse and Repeat – This is a fragmented process that does require you to sign up and enter your information individually for each website if you want it done for free. Steps 1 to 3 take you through the process of creating and utilizing a single account. There are already hundreds of Local Directory websites that are popular on the internet, that does not even include specialized or trade Directories and Social Media sites. Stay focused on building a professional online presence for your business in the major ones I listed at the beginning of the article and your company will have a good platform established to grow an internet marketing plan.
Want to know the easiest way to be listed in local directories? Universal Business Listing distributes your businesses profile to all major search engines, social networks, digital maps, and online business directories for the lowest annual fee available. The process is very simple. Fill out one business profile with UBL, and UBL will regularly update and check your information to make sure that you are listed accurately on all major local search platforms. UBL also provides great free tools to monitor the accuracy of your business identity online.
Universal Business Listing helps to ensure that your customers can find your business. Check your business identity for Free now!
This is just the beginning, but something as simple as listing your phone number, business hours, and delicious pictures of the food on your menu in your public profiles, can make the difference in converting a new customer. The real internet marketing campaign begins when you are ready to start generating interest and engaging with your customers through these various online marketing tools. The specific techniques that will be used on each website to attract visitors may vary, but learning how to become more active in these online communities will definitely help you generate interest in your company.
I realize this can be a daunting task if you don’t know how to get started. There are so many intricate pieces to the internet marketing puzzle, that there’s no way I could write the whole guide in one blog post. You would all stop reading! Ultimately, the best thing to keep in mind is that through your marketing online, the goal for your business is to create genuinely interesting and unique content that is of course related to your products or services. That way, your visitors / potential customers will be more inclined to spend time on your business’s Facebook newsfeed or read about a great deal that you have offered for Foursquare Check-ins. I may say it lightly, but that is no easy task. For example, if your company sells cookware, the best thing to start an engaging discussion about is food. Everyone might not be thinking about buying a new pot or pan while browsing on Facebook, but if you post pictures and recipes of delicious meals prepared using your cookware, visitors will already be more interested in your company and more likely to share your links with their friends. Another great example is a professional photographer. The best thing a photographer can take pictures of is puppies. Who doesn’t love pictures of cute puppies? I guarantee that if you become the go to person on Facebook for pictures of cute puppies, there is no way that you won’t start seeing more traffic.
Keep that in mind as you think about your business; what type of event can you pair your product or service with to generate buzz and interest by visitors in these communities?
Need help finding a buzz worthy subject for your company? Ask me how!