Local Business Marketing Strategies For Cash Strapped Business Owners

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Faced with many challenges as a local business owner, you are now about to experience the biggest challenge of all, Local Marketing. Twenty years ago the concept was simple, contact the local phone book company and take out a listing within your budget, or maybe not. For those who like risk, an ad bigger than their budget commanded might be rewarded or on the flip side, might get you in hot water with the advertising company. We have all been there and made it work one way or another.

In 2007 like most other business owners I started seeing a slip in sales. I started wondering and contemplating a solution to the problem. I said to myself “I got it”. So I called up the SBC rep (local phone book company in San Diego) and I told her I needed to increase my internet advertising budget. She explained that was not a problem. Now my bill for advertising was over $2,000.00 a month. A few months or so went by and the phone was not ringing to keep up with the budget. I started to investigate the calls I was receiving and where they were seeing my advertisements. Not from yellowpages.com, but from some website with a map, which showed them I was right next to them. That website, are you ready to be shocked GOOGLE! Customer’s theory, I was located closest to them, so I must be the company with the quickest response time.

My partner and I started checking this Google phenomenon out. Low and behold there were markers on a map that showed the business name and address. From a customer’s standpoint this was awesome. Imagine you are broke down at your local post office and all you needed was a jump start. If you “Googled” towing companies and the map showed you there was a towing company three businesses down the street, why not call them. They can probably be to you in 5 minutes, maybe walk to you with their jump box depending on how great their customer service is.

As a retired Chief of the United States Navy, I had no internet marketing expertise. But I had a can-do attitude. I started researching how to buy a .com domain. From there my first website was born. All you have to do is go to godaddy.com and it costs around $11.00 bucks. Now that is a bargain! The more you buy, the cheaper they are. The next task at hand was to build a website. A daunting task or not? After you buy the domain from GoDaddy you can use your credits they give you to build it yourself, with an application called website tonight. If you can’t figure it out, enlist some help from your kids, they all seem to be more proficient at these tasks than we are.

So you have a .com and a website now you are faced with the task of marketing you website. Not to worry, it’s actually simple. Go to Google and sign up for a Google places account. It’s totally free! You might have been on the other end of a phone call from a telemarketer trying to sell you a listing on the front page of Google for $299.00 setup fee and $100.00 bucks a month depending on your market. He was trying to sell you a free account, imagine that. Fill in all the content completely. The more pictures and information you have the better your listing will turn out. The other major search engines have similar accounts, so sign up for those as well. Give it about 60 days and your phone will ring. When you complete a job or service for your customer give them a credit for taking the time to review your listing. I went to a local business to get my car tags renewed in San Diego the other day and they gave me 25 percent off the renewal fee for taking time to review their site. I posted the web address as an example.

Your task of local marketing is never ending from here on out. I received a call from the At&t rep the other day trying to solicit my business, in which she explained how their products on the internet are user driven as well. Essentially, the days of paying for the top spot are gone! Your customers will make you number 1, if you treat them right and do a great job. The future will be full of companies promising to alleviate you of this task for a nominal fee. I hired a lawyer once and she told me she would handle everything. I expected her too, for a retainer of 5,000 dollars. She handled it alright, as long as I stayed on top of the case and made suggestions on the path of where I wanted the case to go. Remember, this is your business and you are the expert. You and only you know your customers and where you want your business to go. Not a SEO firm in another state!

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