Problem: You need more local customers finding and hiring your small and local business; you need more leads and you want to leverage the internet to get them. But you don’t really have the knowledge or time to do it and you don’t really want to spend a lot of money. So what do you do?
Most business owners, even those that are currently on some type of marketing program are still stuck in the dark when it comes to the why, the what, the where, and the how of marketing their small business online.
So, I am not going to give you money, and I believe that if you’re not dead then you truly have the time, so what I can do is try and help you understand the internet a little better so you can start to make the right decisions for how you market your small and local business using it.
The Right Approach
In order to get more local customers using the internet you need to meet people’s needs online. It’s that simple. And in order to do that you need to meet the search engines needs first.
Small and local business owners need to realize that the internet does not exist to bring them leads.
People have a problem, want, or need and they turn to the internet to help them solve that problem, find that want, or satisfy that need. It exists to help people go from point A to point B. If you want to be point B it’s going to take a little bit of work just like every other aspect of running and growing a legitimate small business.
The internet truly is just customer service in a digital world. Get it right consistently over time and yes, you will get more leads, you will get more customers, and yes your business will grow. Just like the actual in person customer service your business offers greatly affects your bottom line, so does your online customer service.
People aren’t leads or objects for us to exploit and sell. They are real people like us with problems, wants, and needs. They are looking for trusted and reliable businesses and that search usually starts online.
Small business owners who want to be the solution to people turning to the internet for help need to provide value to those people. They need to help them in some capacity which empowers those people to hire or buy from them.
Sometimes this is very simple, like providing an accurate address, phone number, and business hours to someone who was referred to your business and is just getting basic information. Sometimes doing this is a little more complicated like providing service information and rates, FAQ’s, or even longer and more educationally focused content regarding their customers’ problems and potential solutions.
The point is, your online presence literally needs to replace the in person interactions people had before the internet existed. It needs to truly be there to educate and empower people from a servant oriented perspective and not “a give me your money” perspective.
Embrace the Internet & Technology
Once you’ve got that down, it’s truly about learning embracing technology and the internet. Or more specifically, learning about the tools and strategies that exist within the digital marketing world and start to use them to meet your potential customers needs online.
This means you also need to have a general understanding of how people, your current and potential customers, are using the internet to find and hire businesses like yours. Then, meet them online with your digital marketing.
If you didn’t put up any signage on your local storefront, no one would know it was there. 10,000 of your ideal customers could go right on by a day and not a single one would stop in and buy from you. Because they didn’t even know you existed.
Except nowadays the search engines like Google are the equivalent of a business’s signage. If a person can’t find you on the search engines, they won’t even know you exist.
So, embracing the internet means embracing the search engines and meeting their needs first, like I mentioned at the start of this article.
Look at it from the signage perspective. If you want to put up a flashy sign on your local storefront, for example, you need to make sure you’re following your building owners guidelines and the cities guidelines. You need to do a little research and gain an understanding of what you can put up, who to hire to do it, how much it will cost, and other things like how long it will take. You probably need to pull a permit and then actually do the work.
The same goes with the internet, the search engines are basically the gatekeepers of the internet. We have to go through them, or a better way to put it is our customers have to go through them to get to us. We, as business owners need to ensure that the search engines understand our businesses enough to deliver the right people across that bridge to us.
Okay, so now that you have the essential framework of how to get more local customers for your small business, where should you first focus your efforts?
Check out this article “Where should small and local business owners focus their digital marketing efforts?” for a more detailed look at getting started serving and attracting customers using the internet and digital marketing.
If you have any questions or are looking for a trusted and reliable website and digital marketing partner for your small and local business, send me a message and we’ll have a relaxed, no obligation conversation about your website and digital marketing needs.