Monday, April 4, 2011
Become a local marketing ninja
You can focus on just marketing basics and generate an abundance of business, but becoming a truly masterful marketer today requires that you go beyond the fundamentals.
Today’s new marketing methods will soon be considered fundamental, so it’s time to embrace this new world of social local marketing and add it to your repertoire. Or, you can sit on the sidelines and watch your business slowly fade away. Like it or not, you have to jump in, and I suggest you start by nailing down your local search marketing strategy.
If all business, like politics, is local then I assume your marketing plan has a local component to it, right? If not, now is the perfect time to get started.
The future of your business is literally in the hands of your customers and future prospects. They are in the driver’s seat, literally, holding all of the power in the palm of their hands - on their phone. That power is their ability to easily find what they are looking for from their smart phone.
Social media usage is skyrocketing, especially for women in the 50- to 65-year-old bracket. Combine the power of local search marketing and the usage and evolution of social media as a marketing tool and you get social local marketing.
In spite of your brand identity and value and the strength of your customer relationships, your customer has ready access to more and more choices all thanks to the power of local search marketing results and social media geographic and demographic advertising.
As I stated last month in this column, local search marketing is a game changer and those who are becoming masterful local marketers will enjoy more business. Add check-in social services such as Foursquare, for example, and you are on your way to becoming a local marketing ninja.
Word-of-mouth advertising has been replaced by world-of-mouth marketing, thanks to Facebook and other social media. According to one study, Gen X/Yers consider email to be passe for communication. Colleges are moving from student email accounts to social media to communicate.
Scary and very promising, all at once. Scary if you ignore local marketing tools such as Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing and a slew of others. Of course, top-of-mind awareness comes from a complete marketing and customer-centric strategy and compelling perceived value. That will never change. It will always be about communicating effectively.
You do not even really need a website for your business to participate in local search marketing. Businesses have done quite well in dominating their local market long before Al Gore invented the Internet. It’s all about being found on the map and interacting with a prospect from their phone. Of course, a website is, indeed, very important for local small businesses. If you don’t have one you are simply not serious about your business.
At one time, not so long ago, a small business relied on Yellow Page advertising as its primary local marketing strategy. This was true for many of the headings in the Yellow Pages but with the emergence, or explosion, of smart phones and geography-driven keyword searches on the Internet, small businesses have a new, powerful tool to enhance their local marketing success.
With a focus on local marketing, and on local search marketing as a unique strategy, let me ask you this: are you marketing to mobile moms on the move? You should be. Five thousand moms can’t be wrong! According to a recent www.babycenter.com study of mobile moms using smartphones, motherhood triggers online local searches and the shopping begins.
They have control of the money and moms make most of the purchase decisions anyway, right from their smart phone. You see, mobile moms have been identified as the fastest growing and largest population of smart phone users, growing more than 64 percent last year, and almost one half of all searches they make from their phone results in a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store.
They are buying pizza, clothing, contractor services, fuel oil, new cars, setting appointments, you name it. When they search your keywords, you had better appear on their radar screen (Google Maps and others).
The two looming challenges emerge: How to do you reach moms (and others), and then how do you lead them to make a purchase at your business using a local search strategy?
1. Extend your company’s brand experience onto their smart phone by including a few short videos, which can differentiate you in local search, with a video icon on the map. Like it or not, it’s time for you to be on Youtube. Video should be 2-4 minutes in length. Add a few photos as well.
2. Boost your local search presence with offers and promotions, and special ads (tags), which differentiate you and show up on check-in social sites. Mobile moms respond well to coupons that appear on their phone while they are in or near your business. Tags show up on search engine maps.
3. Manage your reputation and gather an abundance of reviews from trusted sources. Recommendations and reviews by peers, showing up on Google Social and other sites, are more highly trusted than advertising messages.
Ask customers to write reviews for your business. (Contact me for a form letter you can distribute). You can rebut negative reviews and you should do so, but carefully.
4. Make a strong connection with customers. Yes, there is an app for that. Compete against the big companies with your own mobile phone application. Engage your customers and build a community of users.
Believe it or not, you can easily create a downloadable app for your business to extend private offers, communicate and build your brand via their smart phone. If you can use Powerpoint, with the Mobiflex tool (www.mobiflexinc.com ) you can create your own custom app - without costly development. Trust me, you need to look into creating your own mobile app.
Business success is still all about building trust and confidence in your brand. Your message and perceived value are still paramount. Think mobile and social and local. Mobile, local, social.
One important word of caution: it’s always about the customer, never about you. Stay focused on the customer as you wade into this new pool. Local search marketing and social media are not the panacea. You still have to nurture the lead and close the sale.
Local search is just the start, and it is not to be confused with traditional search engine optimization of a website. Once you have mastered the dynamics of placing organic information, go back and revisit the fundamentals of sales and marketing. Keep personalized direct mail in your mix. Even Gen X/Y’ers like getting well-written mail.
We have prepared a special report outlining the major components of a smart local marketing strategy, adaptable to any industry, including tips for easily developing your own local downloadable application to complement other marketing efforts.
Whether you are a single site business or a large corporation with several regional or national locations, or whether you are a B2B or B2C company, local marketing has become both easier than ever and more critically important. The report is yours for the asking, via email, with the word local in the subject line.
The medium is not the message, but the media you use to reach your customers and prospects says a lot about your business. Local search and local ads on social media give you the tools to begin building a trusting relationship with a mobile audience that is otherwise hard to reach.
Bob Martel is a Marlborough-based marketing consultant, direct marketing copywriter and author of the book "How to Create All of the Business You Can Handle." He can be reached at 508-481-8383 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.