Local Marketing for your Small Business | Raleigh SEO and Website Design
Welcome back! Last week we reviewed the ins and outs of local marketing for your small business. This week let's dig deeper. And look at exactly how to properly plan as you begin to get more disciplined with regards to your small business marketing. It's no surprise that success will depend upon either one of two things: how well you plan and execute or blind luck. With that in mind, I tend to rely on planning and delivery beyond just luck. Not that luck isn't most times a factor. It's just that we shouldn't rely on it to carry us through.
Before we go further, please keep in mind you don't have take this on by yourself. As a matter of fact, outsourcing these to a company like ours can be more cost effective than using your time. Xperience4Higher is committed to delivering affordable solutions like Internet Marketing to businesses across the country. So whether it's creating a marketing plan or designing your businesses' website, give us a call and save yourself some time and heartache. Why you say? Because we guarantee everything we do including results! Now back to our topic.
Let's take the first few steps of our last post and dig in so that you can get started. Today we'll review the following local marketing tactics:
- Determine your goals for growth and establish a marketing budget
- Analyze your competition and understand your market space
- Decide which marketing mediums/channels are right for your small business
- Turn your strategy into an actionable plan (scope, time and cost)
Marketing your Small Business: Determining your goals
It's important to set goals that are both achievable and, in strategic cases, that stretch you a bit. The worst thing you can do is set goals outside of your budget (remember, marketing should be no less than 5% of your operating budget and certainly not exceed 20%). By establishing goals that you can afford to achieve, you leave your small business in a position to succeed regardless of the outcome of your campaign. That's just smart in my opinion. Next, you'll want to set goals you're capable of delivering. Make sure your skills are up to par. You don't want to build a website if you struggle to use email or Facebook. It's going to take you more time to learn the trade than it's worth. And the end result probably isn't going to scream, "come shop with me". In reality, a poorly designed website might just deter folks from becoming your customers. Lastly, determine what kind of growth you can adequately sustain without either forcing risky financial situations (e.g., taking on much higher rent) or degrading customer service (remember there's a reason people come back). Here are a few sample goals to get you started. Each of these goals pass our litmus test (achievable, moderately conservative, ability to create expansion, within your ability to deliver):
- to grow our sales by 20% within the next six months
- to convert more than 50% of our one-time customers to monthly patrons
- to expand our business local exposure through paid ads and/or SEO (local search rankings)
Competitive Analysis: compare yourself to others and find differentiation
There's a number of ways to figure out what your competition is doing. Not to mention how successful they are:-) The best way to gauge what competitors are doing is to look at their website. Look at the products and services they offer. Maybe they carry extra product lines. What if they provide package services at a discounted rate from the a la carte pricing that most small businesses offer in your area. Make of list of the differences you see and take note on what you could do better/different. While it's important that you differentiate yourself, you also want to be sure not to water down what you do well just for the sake of "bells and whistles". Next, look at their local market presence. Do they have local TV or radio spots? Do they purchase newspaper ads and when? Which mailers do they use to advertise their products and services? Where do they rank for certain keywords on Google? For example, Raleigh SEO experts know that ranking well for terms like "lawn care" or "dentist" or "restaurant" mean big dollars for local businesses in Raleigh, NC. The same can be said for your area provided there's a fair amount (or a lot) of competition. After all, only 10 or so businesses can be on the first page of Google search results so you'll want to make sure you're there. Do they have a loyal social media following? Don't overlook this area because you could be missing the iceberg under the proverbial tip. Connecting with fans through outlets like Facebook and Twitter can create the opportunity to diversify your customer base and enable real-time marketing. Think about the power of telling folks about a sale in the morning and having your retail store busy, busy in the afternoon. Now that's powerful local marketing!
Now that you know where you competition is getting out their message; let's look at what you can do. You might need to tailor what you're offering. Just remember to keep it profitable and try things in increments. Too much change too quick can drive away your loyal customer base. Next, figure out which mediums you can leverage (e.g., TV and radio can be too expensive for most small businesses) and what your message should be. Maybe you're the "low price leader". Maybe you offer a level of service no one can match. Maybe you guarantee your products and services. Or maybe you have a "secret sauce" that can't be replicated. There's a reason you got in business is beyond just making money. You believe (or believed) in what you have to offer so now it's time to educate everyone else about why they should give you a try.
Picking your battles: where do I spend my marketing dollars
Let's review the most common mediums and talk about how they may fit into your strategy.
- Television: TV is still the most powerful and expensive means of advertising. If you're budget can handle it and there's room for other mediums, give it a try leading up to what should be a busy seaso. And don't forget to track the results. Remember, if it's hokey on paper; it'll be 1000 times worse on TV. Spend the money to do this right!
- Print: While newspaper and print mediums are in decline, they still create a certain level of visibility that's hard to deny. People trust the newspaper and give credibility to businesses that advertise there. Also, don't forget to try your hand at some of those handy-dandy mailers we all love to sort through. Coupon mania is still alive and well!
- Radio: Pick the right times/slots to get your message on the airwaves. Whether at drive time or late night, your local radio station will give you solid advice about when and how to advertise on their network. They have tons of demographics (like their news and TV counterparts) that will help with timing and placement.
- Internet Marketing: While the internet is the new kid on the block, it's certainly the most cost effective method from a lead acquisition perspective. Start with a well-designed website and then move into more tactical areas such as SEO and/or social media. With SEO, your Raleigh, NC small business can rank for generic keyword searches on the major search engines. For example, Raleigh SEO will allow you to rank for the term "lawyer" or "dwi lawyer". It's a proven fact that first page rankings drive tons of leads to your small business. Depending upon the city and type of business, local SEO can range from a few hundred to several thousands of dollars each month. While this may seem expensive, think about how much a TV or newspaper ad will cost. Then consider you'll be on the "front page" of Google 24x7x365. The cost per lead doesn't even compare to that of the more expensive mediums.
- Event Promotions and Grassroots Efforts: While sometimes difficult to pull off; tradeshows, foot campaigns and guerrilla marketing efforts can prove to be immediately successful. If you have something new (at least to the group you're targeting), then you may find there's a certain buzz you can create by handing out samples and/or coupons. Just be ready for everyone to show up at once, and don't be surprised when they do!
I love it when a plan comes together!
Here's a few things to consider when bringing all your ideas into a plan:
- create a task list, budget and schedule for delivery
- be conservative knowing that it's better to under promise and over deliver than the reverse
- set yourself up for success: be fully staffed, have extra product and/or cycles available, don't carry enough excess that a lack of participation puts you into a bind, be moderate (remember too much or too little can cause problems too!), be prepared to deliver the best case scenario, be prepared to deal with the worst case scenario, be thankful for the opportunity, and keep your attitude right!
- review your plan and be certain the budget is doable without harming your operational ability going forward
- review your schedule and make sure you can deliver the campaign and services/products sold within the time set aside
- review your task list and take out things that are either risky or just fluff
- look for ways to add value without increasing cost or risk
- make the necessary adjustments to your plan after you review it and get to SCHEDULING!
That about sums it up this time around. For more information about this post or to get more information about our services, contact Xperience4Higher today and schedule a free business analysis. We'll be happy to help you create a plan and get you a quote for services like (pick a city) Raleigh SEO, website design, print and graphic design, and more! Next article, we'll review how to get started executing your plan. Until then, enjoy your week and thanks for taking the time to read and comment.