You understand your business inside and out.
You’re clear on its values and you stand by them. You know your products and services and you know your customers inside out.
But would I also be right in saying that you’re not a marketing guru?
I thought so.
That’s fine – very few business owners are.
But we both need to accept that marketing is important. It’s a job that needs to be done.
But marketing is expensive, right?
As Marketing Week noted, the entire annual marketing budget for most small businesses stands at “no more than the typical salary of a young marketing executive.”
How much is that these days? I’d guess at maybe between £25 to £30K a year (or more in London) – that’s around two and a half grand a month.
Maybe that explains why it’s estimated that nearly half of all small business owners do their own marketing themselves.
But what can you do to make sure that this important area of your business gets the attention it deserves and gets done well?
Well fortunately there are a few essential but inexpensive tools to help you market your business effectively at a local level.
Here are 3 of the best…
Essential Tool #1 – Local Listings
One of the best methods you can use to boost local SEO is through local listings.
A report by MDG Advertising shows that up to 59% of consumers rely on Google every month to find reputable local businesses. In the same report, half of all mobile searches are focused on finding local results and 61% of those searches lead to a purchase.
So, how does this relate to listings?
Google – and any other search engine, for that matter – rewards you for making it easy for them to provide relevant results to their users. So if you provide accurate information consistently on various local listings the search engines reward you by ranking you higher on their results pages.
Google My Business plays an important role in influencing the kind of information that is displayed both on the SERPs and Google Maps. Remember that this page holds important business information such as the reviews, location, images and your opening hours.
Just like Google My Business is for ranking on Google, Bing Places for Business is one of the key determinants to how well you rank on the third largest search engine: Bing (YouTube is second if you’re wondering :-)).
After Google, YouTube and Bing, is Yahoo. So, you don’t want to ignore the potential traffic you could get from here. Despite undergoing several confusing changes that saw the creation of Aabaco, branding local business services under Luminate and outsourcing the management of local listings to Yext, Yahoo still offers local business listings for free, through Yahoo Local.
To dominate the local search, you’ll need to claim your business listing on each of the three, optimize it and use it to get reviews.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember that Google Reviews are one of the 4 most important ranking factors we identified when we looked at over 540 UK B2B Businesses.
Essential Tool #2 – Local NAP Citations
NAP is an acronym for Name, Address, Phone Number. NAP citations are the mentions your business has all over the web even if there are no links leading to your website.
A citation could be a listing on an online directory such as Yellow Pages or your local chamber of commerce or a business association page that lists your business information.
When showing results for geo-targeted searches, search engines take into account the citation data to provide the most comprehensive results to the searchers.
A research by comScore, Neustar Localeze and agency 15 Miles showed that the business location and address are the two main pieces of information that local searchers seek.
As such, the higher the number of citations your business has, the higher it’s likely to rank on the search engines, all factors kept constant.
Also, because it’s very hard for a business to fake membership to local associations, citations help validate your business to search engines to show that it is part of the community it claims to represent.
To boost your local rankings using NAP citations, ensure that the data is correct and consistent across the web. Consistency helps show search engines that your business is legitimate.
To increase the number of local citations, consider listing your business on all reputable directories.
But you’ll realise that creating and keeping your local citations up to date is not only insanely challenging but also monotonous, especially if you’re on many directories.
Essential Tool #3 – Your Blog
If you haven’t heard me say it before then at the risk of repeating myself, creating engaging content on an ongoing basis is an increasingly important marketing strategy for businesses of all sizes.
Your blog is the foundation of your Content Marketing strategy. But it’s a huge mistake to assume that only the big players can do content marketing.
Nowadays small businesses can compete with larger enterprises. And they don’t need huge budgets to do that.
So, where do you start?
First, create a WordPress blog. It’s free and it’s really easy to install so there’s no excuse. Then you need to commit to a sound local content marketing strategy.
What does a local content marketing strategy look like? There are loads of ways to create valuable content for a local audience. Things like reviewing products or services, expert tips, answering frequently asked questions or creating local guides.
If you’re really stuck then just run through all the sales calls or conversations you’ve had with your clients. Use your blog to explain stuff – to demonstrate that you’re an expert, an authority.
By following this strategy, create and publish content regularly to boost your online presence.
There you have it. Even tactics as simple as listing on local directories or creating engaging content are important factors if you want to win at local marketing.
The truth is that more often than not local business marketing is about doing enough to beat the completion. That’s all.
So you don’t need someone telling you to spend hundreds of thousands on marketing while most of your competitors are lazy. You’ll be surprised how far the tools mentioned above will help your business.
So are you using any of the above tools? Have they helped you to market your business?
Leave us a comment below. We read and respond to each and every one of them.