Investing in what works ~ be it time or money, you are investing considerable resources.

This DIY guide helps local businesses to learn how to focus their efforts

on what helps their bottom line – getting new customers or clients.

The Basics

  • Establish a Unique Value Proposition
    • What need do you solve?  ~ Keeping in mind what needs you solve informs everything we’ll be talking about today.  Ex:  Massage therapists, Acupuncturists, and Chiropractors are typically associated with eachother (and work in active partnerships) because they solve a common basic need:  Living pain free.
    • Understanding why your customer NEEDS you is a the definitive first step to effectively marketing to them.
    • Ex:  People need (or want) eco-friendly, sustainable, uniquely styled, and fashionable options for their clothes and/or wearable accessories.  In the fashion world large companies understand need starts with the look of the style, then moves onto a customers’ values (eco-friendly, organic, vegan, cruelty-free, etc) combined with price of the product.
  • Consistency of branding & business information
    • Establish your Brand  ~ Is it your name, a business name?  What style is associated with it?
    • Get a Logo
    • Business Name  (NAP)
    • Business Phone Number  (NAP)
    • Local Business Address  (NAP) ~ Important for local SEO even if you provide digital or off-site services.
      • PO Boxes don’t really work.
      • There are plenty of services that can provide your business a mailing address needed to establish your local business address (they must accept and/or forward your mail however)
    • Images of you, your work, your work space, your products, or anything visually associated with your business to use in your Website & Citation listings.  Use my recommendations below for FREE images.

 

Offline Marketing Options

  • Old School
    • Word of Mouth is king.  Network, meet people, hand out business cards, shake hands, kiss babies.
  • Local Coupons Booklets
    • Ex: Boulder Passport, Student Coupon Booklets, the Blue Coupon Booklet (forget the name), etc
    • These are often great for bringing in new customers, but must be placed in the right publication depending on your product or service.
    • Boulder has around a dozen local coupon booklets that end up laying around coffee shops, coffee tables, and businesses all over town.
    • Focus on price/performance.  A local pizza shop would do great with these, but a local SEO company would do poorly for obvious reasons- those reading coupon booklets aren’t thinking about their SEO needs
  • Print Ads
    • Ex: Boulder Weekly, Daily Camera, Rooster, Boulder Magazine, Colorado Daily, Boulderganic, back of King Sooper Receipts, Ads on the hand sanitizer at Safeway, etc.
    • Cons:  Expensive, limited effectiveness unless the publication actively matches your offerings.
    • Pros:  If you have a big budget, sometimes this can be good ~ Tip: The Daily Camera front page/stapled advertisement spot is reasonably affordable last time I talked to them, and everyone who reads it sees it!

 

Digital Media Presence

  • Visual Brand Design
  • Website
    • Clear information describing your product and/or services
    • Easy to use / Mobile Friendly ~ Must be incredibly simple to convert visitors into customers.
    • Functional ~ Clear CALL TO ACTION:  Obvious Phone number, Call button for mobile phones, Chat Box, Easy to find email address, Contact Form, and potentially an Appointment Scheduling System.
    • Design is dependent on your business.  Most services don’t need crazy awesome designs, just something functional.  If you sell beautiful artwork or travel packages to an exotic location, then you’ll want big beautiful images.  If you provide Energy work or Massage therapy, images of you and/or basic stock images will work fine.
    • Page Speed:  This is huge for SEO, but can be somewhat complication.  Avoid images that are bigger than 1300 pixels wide, and use a tool to compress images before you upload them!
    • Online Scheduling:  This is a great way to turn visitors into clients automatically without doing all the back & forth needed to convert them.  Check out Acuity Scheduling’s free option
    • Popups:  They are annoying, but they do work.  Reserve popups for invitations to your Newsletter, CTA, or special promotions.
    • Paid Advertising
      • Paid ads are great for getting traffic, and are often VERY cheap at the local level.
      • PPC (Pay Per Click) Model  (Adwords, Facebook Ads, etc)
      • Landing Pages
        • Any paid advertisement should go to a well optimized landing page.
        • The general idea is to have your CALL TO ACTION (Sign up, Schedule, Call us, etc) be very obvious, with the information of WHY they should do said CTA neatly positioned near it.
        • Examples:  Check out Unbounce’s guide
    • Tracking
      • Google Analytics
      • Hotjar
    • Local SEO Optimized (See SEO Section)
  • Email Marketing
    • Newsletters are a great way to keep up with your followers.  They work if you build a big list.  Big lists are hard to come by for local customers.
    • You can pay for a list of locals or build your own using OPT IN forms on your website or social media.
    • Mailchimp is a great cheap option thats fairly easy to use.
  • Social Media Accounts
    • Don’t overthink it!  Small businesses often invest too much time/money into things that don’t directly help their bottom line.
    • Is your business unique?  People need to care about what your doing first, and if you aren’t providing a unique service or product then it doesn’t make sense to invest too much of your time.
      • Can you make it unique, even if it isn’t that unique?
      • Ex:  A hairdresser who specializes in curly hair should definitely invest in posting pictures their work.  This showcases what they do, allowing potential customers a way to see if it works for them.
      • Special sales, events, and offerings are great for social media.  Be sure to pay for a locally promoted post if you don’t already have a big following!
    • Social Media falls under my citation building section for SEO.  The more popular social media accounts you get setup for your business the better.  Just don’t fall into the trap of investing too much time in tweeting
    • Paid Advertisements (Mostly Facebook, Yelp)
      • These ads have been shown to be HIGHLY effective and very cheap.
      • I HIGHLY recommend considering this, although Facebook ads can be somewhat annoying to setup.
    • NOTE:  Many businesses utilize Facebook as a sort of replacement for their website.  This is perfectly OK!
      • In doing this these businesses often keep all up to date information on Facebook.  I do recommend updating your website, and definitely keep your NAP info consistent across local business listings.
  • Business Listings
    • Be sure to keep accurate Name, Address, Phone, and hours of operation info consistent across all listings
    • This is the most important aspect in local marketing.  I’ve listed the top (and most obvious) ones here!
    • Start with these:
      • Google My Business  note: You will need a local address you can accept mail at to get this setup.
      • Bing Places  note:  I know i know, it’s Bing.  It’s ok just get it setup and never think about it again.
      • Yahoo (Yext)   note:  Pick the free account, don’t pay for Yext (they’re good for SEO citations, but I’ll talk about that later)
      • Yelp  note:  Yes Yelp matters, and no they don’t charge you for basic visibility.
      • Angie’s List  note:  A mixed bag of everything, I do recommend being on here though.
      • Thumbtack  note: A lot of repair/home services on here, but still good to have.
      • Apple Maps  note:  Yes do this too!  Tons of iPhone users use Apple Maps.
      • Better Business Bureau
      • Yellow Pages
      • Manta
      • Alignable
      • NextDoor
      • Niche Specific Websites:  You know your business niche better than anyone.  Find business listings for your niche!  Ex:  Weddingwire.com, TheKnot.com, etc.
  • Business Reviews
    • This is the second most important aspect in local marketing today.
    • Get as many positive reviews as you can, across multiple review platforms (Google, Yelp)
    • It is OK to ask family/friends/past customers for a real review.
      • Note: Yelp does not like this, but you can still do it (they put reviews they think are solicited in a section of ‘unrecommended reviews’ – Yelp reviews may end up in there anyways of the reviewer isn’t an active Yelper).
    • Review Request Emails:

 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your Website & Local Listings

  • Important Notes
    • The TLDR version of SEO is that it helps your website or local listings show higher up first in Search Engines when your customers search for services like yours.
    • SEO is a competition.  Older websites, ones with more reviews, ones with more citations, ones with more backlinks, and most importantly ones with great Onpage SEO outrank their competitors.
  • Competitor Research
    • Know your competitors, even if they’re not competing with you locally.  I recommend performing SEO Audits of your competitors’ websites and backlink profiles to give you ideas on what to copy and what to make your own.
  • Onpage SEO (Website)
    • This is a whole thing itself.  Please follow this guide to learn
    • WordPress:  Use the Yoast SEO Plugin.
    • Schema.org Markup
      • Tells search engines specific info about your website, like Business Name, Phone, Address, Business Category, etc.
      • This is HUGE because sooo many of your competitors won’t be doing this.  It seems complicated and scary, therefore many people (even SEO companies??) don’t touch it.  It’s not that bad.
      • DIY using a tool: https://technicalseo.com/seo-tools/schema-markup-generator/
      • Implementing the code on your website may be a challenge.  It is literally copying & pasting in the right place and many WordPress themes or other website platforms have access to said right place built right in.  If not look up how to do it on your platform.
  • Citations
    • This is information about your business across the internet.  Building citations is a key component to local SEO.  Business Listings mentioned above ARE CITATIONS but are significantly important in their own right.
    • Whats important:  Consistent Business Name, Business Phone, Business Address information.  Secondary is consistent links to your Website, Social Media Profiles, Online Scheduling Platform, and Images.  
    • Use this tool to build your own:  Bright Local’s tool for finding Local Business Citations
    • Keeping Track of citations with a Spreadsheet
    • The easy way:  Pay a company to build them for you.  I recommend Moz Local (cheap!) or  Whitespark
  • Backlinking
    • This is the process is getting links back to your website from other websites.  It’s time consuming, costly, and effective.
    • Focus on building Citations with your website link included first – many of these can provide ‘link juice’ which helps in your overall SEO goal.
    • Then focus on localized link building.  Boulderdowntown.com, things like that.
    • You can do this yourself, but I recommend finding a reputable SEO company to handle it for you.  It’s just too time consuming for a busy business owner to worry about getting backlinks all the time!

 

 
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