Online marketing has been taken up enthusiastically by major, national chains of retailers. But it offers an opportunity not just for the big companies, but for small and medium sized businesses too.
There is a place – and a potentially very rewarding one – for online marketing with a distinctly local focus. Your local market is likely to continue to be your major market, so why not use the strength and power of the internet to help keep your own business in the forefront of potential customers’ minds?
Here are a few tips for doing just that:
Crossing the threshold
- for all the power of virtual shopping, probably your greatest objective is still getting customers into your shop or office;
- this might make the most of the reasons for potential customers visiting your premises – events and promotions, perhaps, or even coupons you make available online, to be redeemed in your shop;
- if you are in the business of offering professional services – consultancy, accountancy or legal assistance, for example – there may be even greater reason for that personal contact, best achieved through a visit in person;
- if you are offering professional services, you might want to mention your professional indemnity cover as part of your commercial business insurance, since this might increase confidence in the dependability of the services you offer;
A unique experience
- the marketing website Shopify makes the point that most of your customers are almost certain to be able to buy the same products as you sell elsewhere;
- this makes it important to stress how the actual shopping experience you offer is different to any provided by your competitors;
Share the burden – and the attractions
- online marketing need not be overly expensive, but sharing the costs and the effort with other local businesses might help your task;
- a joint marketing campaign that cross-references yours and other local businesses might reveal connections you had not previously thought of and help to engender a sense of local businesses pulling together and representing the local community;
- in a similar vein, membership of your local chamber of commerce and trade associations is likely to make sure that you are listed in the online business directories for your area – and open up opportunities for visitors to click through to your own site;
Naming the photos of your business and products
- it is worth remembering just how search engines work when naming photos you plan to use on your website – the more descriptive, the better;
Word of mouth
- in the good old days, local businesses relied on a literal word of mouth to help build a reputation – the strength of that way of passing on favourable reviews of your service and products is made even greater thanks to the internet and review sites in particular;
- you might want to encourage visitors to your own site, along with your satisfied customers, to add their online reviews too.
Many small to medium sized local businesses might be put off the idea of online marketing through a fear of it proving to technologically challenging or expensive. In fact, neither of these is true and the internet offers many ways of promoting your business cheaply and easily to your local customer base.