Gaining a Hold on Local Market — How Small Businesses Can Make It Happen
by Mashum Mollah Small Business 22 February 2017
The marketplace is growing increasingly competitive and the heat is being felt by small businesses. For survival and growth, small businesses have to develop long term strategies, both online and offline that would ensure that they are able to wade through competition and keep growing. With a focus on the local market, which is the main playing arena for small business, suitable marketing strategies have to be developed that can result in consistent sales.
Meanwhile, they can bolster their efforts by capitalizing on the gains from special marketing drives like the Small Business Saturday sale that is held in the US on 26th November every year. Considering such events as windfall gains that spikes sales momentarily, it should encourage focusing on the year-round marketing initiatives that have been discussed in this article.
A mix of online and offline strategies:
There are two aspects that have to be considered when formulating marketing strategies for small business. The focus has to be on the local markets and the opportunities that are available both online and offline have to be made good use of. Concentrating only on online marketing can prove to be partially effective unless it is backed by suitable offline strategies. The reason is that almost 39 percent of visitors to brick and mortar stores resort to internet searches before buying.
Strengthen your local SEO:
More business will only happen when you have a strong local SEO in place that increases visibility for your business, drives more traffic to it and effectively converts leads to sales. Therefore, ensure that your local SEO works in the right way for you. Almost the entire community of buyers in the local market depends on internet searches to facilitate buying. According to figures available, 97 percent of buyers refer to the internet before buying.
Take advantage of Google’s patronization of local business as is evident from the way search results are displayed for the convenience of viewers. More prominence is given to the top three positions in the search results that float above all other listings. Being able to figure in the top three can have a tremendous positive impact on sales.
- Get your business registered with Google and Bing Places to build credibility.
- Partner with local websites for publications by reaching out for them.
- Take measures of optimization of a website and emphasize social media management.
Make the right use of e-mail marketing:
Email marketing is an under-utilized resource that small businesses can make good use of. It provides the cheapest option of staying in touch with existing as well as prospective customers. You can also communicate with previous customers by using this scalable tool that is most economical too. Email marketing has the potential of much higher conversions (17%) that is almost three times higher than the social media. More emphasis on email marketing is thus a necessity that should never be ignored.
Emphasize on online reviews:
Online reviews have a high impact on the rankings in local searches and have to be emphasized in your online marketing efforts. The impact is felt across all search engines social media and not Google and Bing alone. Its impact is well perceived on Facebook and Yelp too. Arrange to generate favorable reviews from customers who have enjoyed a positive experience from your product or service. Take measures to ensure that reviews are systematically and consistently generated by requesting them for reviews on the pages of the social media and directories like Yelp, Facebook and Google+. Remember that 67 percent of customers are influenced by online reviews when deciding on purchases.
Opt for paid results:
With intense competition in local organic searches, things can get difficult if you do not move out for paid searches. No matter how well you implement SEO, organic searches can get limited and to boost it up start relying on pay per click (PPC) campaigns that can help to target actionable keywords that are affordable. The advertisements appear against highly targeted keywords and largely enhance conversions in the local market in specific geographical areas.
Local business is still much dependent on brick and mortar stores. The offline strategies that have been described in the subsequent paragraphs are relevant for them and can be used in combination with online strategies.
Set eyes on government contracts:
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it is legally binding on the government to award small businesses with 23 percent of the government contracts. As a small business owner, you should know that the government awards business worth $115 billion every year to small businesses. Make sure that you vie for your share of the pie that would ensure consistent revenue flow, provided you qualify for the contracts. Although it is not easy to win government contracts, devoting time to look out for opportunities is a way to find your name on the list of successful contractors.
Get involved in community activity:
Gain marketing mileage for your business by being involved in social activities. The positive public relations that you develop from it can push your sales. The role you play in social activities is a matter of consideration for 82 percent of consumers when they make a buying decision. Find out the events that happen in your target market and also find ways of being attached to it. The local chamber of commerce can be of help to identify relevant events.
Consumers favor small business:
Convenience and customer support are the main reasons why 63 percent of consumers have expressed their liking for local business. This has been revealed in a survey that reports 90 percent of consumers to visit the local small business at least once a week. With so much support for you, it is time that you focus on customer experience. Think about how you can offer more convenient service and support to consumers so that they maintain their urge to go along with small businesses in a bigger way.
The pressures of globalization are increasing on small businesses. For improving the competitive positions it is important that small businesses work out strategies for a strong online presence and a better customer relationship that hold the key for long time survival and growth.
Robert Hemmings has worked in the fast-paced world of digital marketing. Currently, he heads an SEO company and takes a special interest in content marketing. Having a background in business management, he has initiated SEO for dentists that have attracted great attention. In his spare time, he gets obsessed with cooking to surprise his family with new recipes.
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