If you run a business where local customers are its lifeblood, stay tuned. We’ll cover what “local” means online, how your business can be found by people that are physically near you, and why local marketing and mobile are a match made in heaven.
But first, here’s Mike of Cotswold Balloon Safaris to tell us a bit about his approach to local marketing.
[A real small business owner talks about how local marketing helped him attract more customers from his neighbourhood and grow his business.]
You may dream of growing your company into a global brand… or your goal might be to become a big fish in your neighbourhood pond. Either way, the web can help.
So what do we mean by local, exactly? We’re talking about businesses with a shop—like a bicycle shop, or a hair salon. But we’re also talking about a service area business that goes out to meet with customers—like a lawn care service, or a plumber.
These businesses usually sell products and services to people who live nearby… and people who are visiting from other places. For example, a potential customer might live hundred of miles away, but she’s coming to your town on holiday and looking for a place to rent a bicycle while she’s there.
These types of local businesses used to rely on tools like The Phone Book to connect with customers looking for their products and services. If a person wanted to buy something, like a bicycle, he might look up stores nearby, and then visit a few to see what was available.
Nowadays, people hunt for stuff from their sofas via laptops and tablets, or browse the Internet on mobiles to pass time standing in a queue.
If they’re searching for a product or service you offer, and they’re in your neighbourhood, it’s the perfect opportunity to get on their radar.
So how does a local search work? Let’s take an example.
A man wants to find a bicycle shop near his flat. He does a search for a bike shop, including his city or neighbourhood as one of the terms. Next, he’ll get a list of local businesses, including the address, phone number and the working hours.
If he’s on a mobile, he can click to ring the shop, or he might even use the mapping functionality of the smartphone to can help him navigate his way to the shop, a great perk if he’s already out and about.
So how can you build a local online presence for your business?
First and foremost, be sure your location details are on your website. If you have a shop, be sure to include your address, and maybe even an interactive map so a customer can get directions, plus your telephone number, and your working hours.
And if you have a service area business, be sure your website explains what areas you serve, and how people can get in touch with you.
But there are some very specific things you can do to help local people become your local customers, and in the lessons that follow, we’ll cover the importance of local search listings like Google My Business, Bing Local and Yahoo! Local that can help lead searchers to your local business, local advertising opportunities on review sites, social networks and search engines, some unique things you can do with local customers and mobile devices, and finally some tips around search engine optimisation to help you find your local audience.
Local businesses need to be seen by searchers in the neighbourhood, on any device. Someone looking to buy in a specific location is usually ready to pull out his wallet—and you want to be his go-to shop. If you stick with us, you’ll learn how you can build and promote an online presence that ensures that’s just what happens.
The Internet connects businesses and customers worldwide. But if you’re a local business, you’ll want to reach people nearby. Let’s learn a bit about:
- what local means in digital
- how your business can build a local search presence
- and a perfect pair: local marketing and mobiles.