Now that we have gotten through the holiday season and the new year has begun in earnest, it is time for you, Mr. Small Town Business Owner, to get serious about using the Internet to promote your business. Print advertising is pretty much dead. Radio likely doesn’t reach very much of your target market. But without a doubt, 100%, there are people looking from a computer or mobile device for the exact product or service you sell. Either they find you or they don’t…but wouldn’t you want them to find you?
So here are my top seven tips as of January 2018 for using the Internet to grow your small town business.
1. Set up a mobile friendly website. If you don’t have a website, then that is absolutely step one. However, even if you have a website, if the site doesn’t break down for easy viewing on mobile devices with small screens, then you are making a major mistake. I know from running analytics reports for my clients, more and more of their online traffic comes from mobile devices. You need to make sure that your website is easily readable from mobile devices. Google will also give you a boost if your site is mobile friendly. There is a technology called AMP that is also very powerful and can increase your mobile visibility, but that is a technical topic that we will discuss in another article.
2. Make sure your website makes it very clear where your physical location is. Put your business address and phone number in your site footer. Put an embedded Google map on a page so people can see where you are located and get directions. You want to make it very easy for potential customers to find you. This also ties into the next step.
3. Set up a Google Business account. Go to https://www.google.com/business and sign your business up. Provide very detailed and accurate information about your business, and make sure that the address you use is the same as the address shown on your website. Google will send you a postcard with a code on it that you will need to verify your business in the Google system. Google does this to make sure you are an actual legitimate business.
4. Do some on-site SEO. This is where things can get complicated (and how people like me make a living), but you should try to do a process called “Search Engine Optimization.” The BEST way to start this process is to conduct keyword research to identify the top search terms that people use to search for what it is you sell, according to Google’s own data. But if you can’t do that, just think about the way someone might search for you online, and then use those keywords in your website titles and sprinkled throughout the copy in the site. How would you search on Google for what you sell? Use those words on your website.
5. Set up a FaceBook Page. FaceBook can be a great way to expose your business to people in your geographic market. But you don’t want to just do everything from your personal account. You should set up a Page for your business, and then update that Page regularly with news items about your business, re-posts from other businesses or potential customers, and funny or interesting “memes” (those graphics you see with funny sayings or famous quotes). Contests are also a great way to get people to like your Page.
6. Use paid ads to build up your FaceBook following. It might be possible to get a bunch of followers just from doing updates without advertising and inviting people you know, but if you really want to get your list built up fast, you are going to need to run ads. FaceBook has some really nice targeting options, so for the most part you can position yourself in front of exactly the right kind of people who may have need for your products or services.
7. Create content regularly. Write a short article related to your business every week or two. If you are not skilled at writing, get some help, either locally or online. There are companies that specialize in writing articles at fairly cheap prices. When you write something new, post it to your website as a blog post or article, and then post it to your FaceBook Page. This serves several purposes: it helps increase your exposure from Google, it helps you come up with material for social media updates, and it helps create the impression that you are a true expert in your field. You could also do this with videos. Set up a YouTube channel, start recording low cost videos about your business, and post them to YouTube, your website, and your FaceBook Page. The key is to do it with regularity.
So there you have it. Do these seven things and you WILL be successful. Now, like many things in life, this is easier said than done. You’re busy running your business and don’t have any time to waste. It really depends on how much of a priority it is for you. There are a ton of details missing from this article (otherwise this article would be 9,000 words instead of 900). I invite you to check out my book, Small Town Internet Marketing, available on Amazon, or just give me a call and let’s talk about how Work Media can help you succeed in 2018.