Do you find yourself lamenting the same thing about your local business?
With today’s economic crisis it’s become more important to reach new customers. At the same time you need to dramatically cut your spending. I have great news for you.
Today, it’s possible to cut ad spending in traditional local media like print Yellow Pages and Newspapers while still increasing your overall marketing exposure and sales leads.
Wait, did you read that right?
You can cut back on ads and still increase your marketing exposure.
Let’s look at an example scenario.
Local business owner Jane spends $1,000 a month on a Yellow Pages ad. She used to see great results from her ad but over the years, especially in the last five years or so, the ad just isn’t pulling in new calls like it used to. More and more, when Jane asks her clients how they found her, they answer in a one word, two sylable reply.
Jane can take a hint. She invests between $1,000 to $5,000 in a new online marketing strategy and web site. This includes getting a clear picture of who her existing and desired customers are and then building a web site that speaks to that target market with appropriate:
- local search engine optimization (local SEO)
Jane’s new site will be her star sales person. It will have all the current information about what Jane sells and why she’s different (and superior) to her competitors.
This new site will let Jane, a typical resourceful business person keep her web site up-to-date with information on specials, sales, new products and services and other useful information.
For Jane, it won’t be any harder to update her new web site than it would be to write an email on today’s web-based email programs like Yahoo! Mail or AOL mail. You open a web browser, you sign in, you type, you format your text (bold, color, etc.) and you click on the ‘Publish’ button just like you’d hit the ‘Send’ button after composing an email.
Along with the relevant content and local search engine optimization on her new web site these frequent updates to Jane’s site (let’s say once every two weeks) will position Jane’s web site ahead of 90% of her competition on search results pages on Google and Yahoo!.
The targeted leads that Jane receives from Google and Yahoo! won’t cost her anything. Once she’s done paying for her new web site with the money she saved from cutting back on her Yellow Pages ad she’ll be way ahead of the game. As time progresses Jane will save more and more.
If Jane hired an experienced online marketing agency or consultant and invested $3,000 in her new web site she could expect to make up the cost of her new online presence in three short months. Over the year of her annual Yellow Pages contract she’ll keep 9 months of what she was spending on her old Yellow Pages ad in the bank. That’s $1,000 a month X 9. Nine grand.
Jane can do a lot with $9,000.
How about you?
For the vast majority of small businesses, the Internet remains a HUGE untapped source of buyers. These buyers are using Google, Yahoo! and other search engines to find local products and services. To maximize your sales to these buyers your goal is to get your web site listed towards the top of organic search engine rankings.
The Organic, or natural search engine results are the main results for web pages and links after you’ve performed a search. For local searches on Google, this includes search results that appear on a map, often referred to by search engine marketers like us as the ’10 Pack’ – so called because of the number of local businesses appearing in the map search. We’ll take a look at a picture of this in just a minute.
In the field of search engine marketing we use the terms organic or natural search results (which don’t cost anything) to distinguish from paid search ads that appear along the top and right side of the organic search results. The majority of people using search engines refer to the organic search results.
Here’s a look at where organic and paid search listings appear on Google, and you’ll also notice the 10-Pack Map listings (click on the picture to see a large version).
Your local media rep from the Newspaper and Yellow Pages will tell you that independent studies have proven that businesses of all sizes that cut back on advertising during recessionary times do poorly and fail in greater numbers than businesses that increase their marketing exposure.
If you follow this wisdom you should go buy more ads and make them bigger too! That’s what the old media companies are hoping anyway. But you don’t need to do that. I worked for the largest of these Yellow Pages and Newspaper companies over my 20 year career and their argument doesn’t hold water anymore.
With the options available to you today online it’s now safe to go find your biggest knife and start cutting traditional ads.
Then you’ll take a portion of your savings and invest them in the one-time cost of a modern web site and online marketing plan, along with the training to make your web site your new star sales person. You’ll pocket the rest of the money.
If you’re not the self-help type, then you can hire an expert to perform this work for you – like Local Na8ion. As with any purchase, the informed buyer (that’s you in this case) is the buyer who gets the best deal and the best available product and service.
Perhaps the most important step to maximize savings and local search engine rankings is to make sure your new site is one you can update yourself without technical knowledge. This means you don’t have to pay a programmer every time you want to update your web site, and every update you make to your site means better rankings on search engines.
The web site publishing software your new web site runs on should be mainstream, with tons of people using and supporting it. You should be able to go to your local book store or library and find a selection of books on how to use the software. You should be able to search on Google for the software and find thousands of companies ready to help you.
Many a nightmare story has been told about small business owners that set up a ‘Free’ Microsoft or Yahoo! web site only to find out that these companies dummy down their offering and rarely update their tools. You don’t get locked into one company with one solution.
With today’s leading web site publishing technology, specifically using content management systems like the one we recommend, WordPress, your web site updates are as easy to publish as an email. WordPress is mainstream in that it’s used by millions of large institutions, companies, and individuals. You can buy WordPress for Dummies and many other mainstream publications to teach yourself about the application. WordPress has a community of developers and service providers that are expert in its workings and can provide you with services that run the gamut from customization to training. Here at Local Na8ion, we’re just one example.
If you’d like to learn more about why we recommend WordPress for small business, you can watch our video podcast, Local Knowledge. If you’d like to see what this looks like for yourself tune in here to our upcoming video podcast Local Knowledge and we’ll show you exactly how easy it is to perform an update using WordPress. Stay tuned!
- Julian, ed Local Na8ion