Not long ago, many people believed that small businesses could earn customers from around the U.S. simply by being on the Internet. It hasn’t exactly worked out that way. In a national survey by Sage North America, 74 percent of small businesses said the majority of their customers are local. In short, when consumers look to buy, they still look local—and they start by looking online.
“One in three searches on Google has local intent, which is a really big number,” said Mike Ramsey, founder of local search marketing firm Nifty Marketing. “This is people looking for a local pizza place, a local nail salon, a local dry cleaner. And half of people on mobile devices are looking for localized content, which ups the stakes even more.” According to a recent survey by Yodle, nearly half the respondents said that they expect to use local businesses more often in the next year.
As more consumers patronize neighborhood businesses, local merchants can take advantage of the trend with effective marketing strategies. Instantly, an international firm that provides consumer insights tools for researchers and marketers, has these tips for attracting more customers in your community. Ensuring that consumers can find your business with an easy search is critical. Here are four ways to shift the local search odds in your business’s favor.
1. Become knowledgeable about who your audience is.
Gathering information about your customers and prospects can help you target your marketing campaigns more accurately, come up with the right kinds of offers, and provide the products and services in your niche that local consumers want. You can begin by collecting basic demographic information, such as the age range and gender makeup of typical customers. Try to find out about their interests or what goes into a buying decision. Conducting a survey, either in-store or through a mobile device, and perhaps offering a small incentive for participating, should yield a higher response and a trove of revealing details.
2. Be part of local search engine results.
Smartphones and other portable devices have increased the number of local online searches, with no indication that the trend is slowing down. Local businesses need to appear on the first page of local search engine results to grab prospects’ attention. Refreshing your website and adding new content regularly is a good way to appear high in the rankings. Google Places, Bing Places, and Yelp have shown to be popular places for this kind of brand building.
3. Take an active role in your community.
Business owners who get involved in the local scene demonstrate a strong commitment to their neighborhood and customers. Register with the local chamber of commerce and see about leveraging the knowledge and experience of existing members. Attend local events or consider sponsoring one. Reach out to fellow entrepreneurs in your community to see if there are opportunities to work together. Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful ways to draw attention to you and your business, especially in local neighborhoods.
“Business owners who get involved in the local scene demonstrate a strong
commitment to their neighborhood and customers”
4. Try location-based marketing.
Location-based marketing sends information to customers and prospects when they enter a specific location, such as a block from your store. Consumers who opt in can receive alerts or text messages on their smartphone or portable device from your business. These can be offers for an on-going sale or a time-sensitive message. For example, a deli that wants to increase lunchtime traffic could offer a discount on any cup of soup bought between 12 noon and 2p.m.
Using a combination of online technology and offline participation can help you ride the wave of local customer shopping and increase your business.
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Roland Gilbert, CLCO (Chief Life-Change Officer)
The Perennial Growth Group
Dale Carnegie Certified Trainer & Performance Coach
My mission is to coach individuals for intentional, authentic living. This mission is accomplished through workshops, speaking, writing and coaching. For over 10 years I have trained leaders and have helped people grow. My experience includes working with several large manufacturing corporations, hundreds of individuals and groups, and as an active ministry worker of my church. Because of my diverse background I am able to help clients effectively address all aspects of life