Online marketing for local businesses without a website

local business azure hair professionals

A local shop in Somerset West

In the past as a business owner of a local business, servicing local clients, you’d buy a Yellow Pages ad, an ad in the local newspaper and perhaps run a flyer campaign every now and then. In the last couple of years you’d add a paid for listing in one of the many online directories too. But the scenery is changing and in speaking to local business owners I notice this very strongly. Every one of them complains about how their marketing doesn’t work anymore, certainly not as well as it used to in the past.

Why is that? Well, quite simply, because consumer habits are changing. Their local clientele isn’t any longer buying the newspaper (it’s an industry currently in huge demise and battling to find a new way to do business), they get their news online – for free. They also don’t look into the Yellow Pages book any more. An online search, they have figured out, is much quicker and leads a lot more results. Not only do you find the business and its address, but you can also immediately find out what others are saying about them.

Which is the greatest power of the internet, that interconnectedness of everything. A tourist from Malaysia bought a product in your shop and now back home, miles away, they find out it’s not working well. They hop onto Twitter or their blog or any other of the many platforms and tell their network about the bad product. Next time a client from around the corner checks your company out online (people do this increasingly, not just with other people but companies too) they find that comment from the Malaysian customer. Not good.

Or so one would think. This is actually a blessing in disguise, because never before was it possible for a business owner to know who’s saying what about their business! We no longer just say what we think about so and so over the dinner table, we type it into some platform online and thus it can be found from anybody, anywhere in the world.

So, on the flip side, how can a business owner, that typically relied on the local clientele to find them through offline mediums, profit from these new trends? The first and major impact this has is that the cost of acquiring a lead is coming down dramatically for local business owners. There are so many tools available that don’t cost anything or very little.

The biggest stumbling block though for the typical local shop or business owner is their lack of expertise in things online (and of course, their expertise lies in whatever their business is offering!) and lack of time. It does take time to find out about all these things, type “local marketing help” into Google search and you’ll get millions of webpages – how on earth can one get through this all?

Another mistake local business owners sometimes make is assuming to do anything online you need a website. That is of course the best thing to have, as it will be your online hub, but you can do so much marketing online without a full website, you’d be amazed. Let me show you three ways to market and promote your products and services for local clients online without needing a website.

google-red-dropGoogle Places Listing

Having a keyword optimized and regularly updated Google Places Listing is a MUST for any local business owner. Here’s why:

  • It doesn’t cost anything
  • It lets you add any relevant information about your business (opening hours for example, or the fact that you have ample parking available, etc.)
  • You can add time sensitive information and promotions to your listing
  • Enhance your listing with photos and videos
  • But most importantly when potential clients search for your product/service (they do not search for your name) your listing will show up right at the top, just like that (providing that search keyword is included in your listing), no SEO on normal search necessary, no AdWords campaigns
  • And as a cherry on top clients can add reviews and rate your place

mailchimp logoE-mail marketing

This is still the best way to convert online. There are some key elements to consider. First of all I am not talking about those emails that get sent out with an ad in them to a purchased list. Those are a nuisance if anything and since when do you want to annoy your potential clients? Exactly. It is far better to organically grow your own list. It’s slower for sure, but your conversion rates will skyrocket. And in the end it’s the bottom line result only that counts. So how do you do it correctly? Always ask permission to include people in your list, do not assume just because you received a business card at a network meeting this is automatically permission to include. Instead rather send an email asking if they’d be interested in receiving relevant, periodic information from you and let them decide for themselves. Treat the people on your list with the highest respect, they are the ones who you want to eventually have part with their money and give it to you in exchange for services. Technically it will be a bit easier to collect new sign ups via a website, but for this purpose alone even a freebie one will do (just perhaps at least get yourself a domain and redirect).

Generating leads with Social Media