How to Reach a Local Audience Now

| December 7, 2015 | Technology & Innovation

If you’re a small or even medium-sized business, you normally have small to medium-sized budgets, meaning marketing and advertising campaigns have to be targeted and effective. This is especially true if the business primarily targets walk-in or “brick-and-mortar” business. Here’s how to get the most out of local marketing to reach a local audience.

Claim your “Google My Business.”

Ever wonder how businesses show up on Google Maps and other apps? A large part of that is making sure that your business shows up on Google My Business. It may already be listed, but not claimed or verified. You can find your business and make sure that the listing is correct: Phone numbers, business category, map placement, photos, hours of operation, and even accepted payment methods and parking options allow customers to get a view of your business before they ever leave their driveway.

The first step is finding your business location on Google My Business or Google Maps and claiming it. If you have a Google account (Google+, Gmail, Youtube, etc), you can use that to claim your business location. Google will then mail you a postcard with a pin number so you can confirm you are at that address, and you will be able to tie your business location to your Google account. Once that is complete, you can then make changes to your information, upload photos, and respond to comments on your business profile. Note that this does not require you to pay for Google ads to claim your location! Also note that you can do this with each of the other search engines as well, but Google has almost 70 percent of the market share of search engines.

Make your website mobile-compatible.

Four out of five consumers use a smartphone to shop, and 50 percent of mobile searchers will visit a store within 24 hours, yet 93.3 percent of small business websites are not mobile-compatible. Prospective customers are out there searching for your business and either not seeing your business in search results, or having a bad mobile experience with your website. If prospective customers can easily find your contact information, store hours, location and product availability, they are much more likely to become a customer.

How can you set up a mobile website? If your website is based on a WordPress theme, you may already have one, or may need to upgrade or change themes to get your mobile theme activated. If you have a custom-designed website, it may be worth looking into responsive design—that is, design that lays out the content based on the width of the screen. If you’re viewing from a computer, or a tablet or a phone, the website experience will automatically optimize for your user. Consider making these updates to your website to meet the full potential for your website.

Maintain an active blog.

During the economic crisis, a local pool installer in Virginia and Maryland found out that selling pools in an economic downturn was not easy. The owner, Marcus Sheridan, decided to start answering all the questions he possibly could in the form of a blog. He answered questions about how long pools lasted, the process around installations, and compared chlorine and saltwater pools, but his best blog post was one where most pool installers were vague—how much does a pool cost. Because he was able to answer questions that many other local companies were unwilling to, he was able to funnel all the traffic from curious pool shoppers to his website—after all, he did have the most information available. Since the one post about pool costs was published, he was able to track $1.7 million in sales from that one post, according to The New York Times.

In a similar way, your company should maintain an active blog to help target local audiences. Blogs help increase search engine optimization for your website in at least two ways: First, it helps to increase the frequency of keywords on your website. Blogs also help to increase the freshness of your website—both of which are important indicators to search engines of the relevancy of your website to searchers.

When deciding what to blog about, consider the top 20 to 50 questions people might ask when they inquire about a product. How long does a photography session last? What are the most popular flowers for wedding centerpieces? What are some tips for changing your own oil? By having an active blog, you are able to help search engines direct more traffic to your website, resulting in increased awareness and sales.

Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana
Ajeet Khurana wears many hats: author, angel investor, mentor, TEDx speaker, steering committee of the NASSCOM Start-Up Warehouse, Director of Founder Institute, Venture Partner with the seed initiative of a top Venture Capital firm, and former CEO of IIT Bombay’s business incubator, among others. Before all this, he was entrepreneurial twice in the field of education and web publishing. As a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin, he taught e-commerce back in 1993, when the term "e-commerce" had not yet been coined. An undergrad in computer engineering from the University of Mumbai, and an MBA from the University of Texas, Ajeet is presently an active name in the startup ecosystem. From starting two ventures as a solopreneur, to helping a large number of startups with their go-to-market, he has never shied from getting his hands dirty. At the same time he has helped dozens of startups raise investment. He truly believes that small business owners are driving change in the world, and need to be facilitated as much as possible. Innumerable small businesses have gained from his attitude, vast professional networks, financial acumen and digital mindset.

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