It might sound an odd thing to say, especially in the middle of a recession, but there really has never been a better opportunity for businesses to thrive and prosper. We are literally in the middle of a cultural and marketing revolution where all the traditional rules of advertising and marketing are being re-written.
The only way to reach a national or International audience would be to advertise in the national press, on the radio or on television.
This was (and is) beyond most local company’s means. Not many businesses have a marketing budget that would allow them to spend millions on a national or even local TV advertisement.
It was also frustrating for the consumer too. Finding businesses meant searching through the Yellow Pages and then ringing around to see if the company could provide what they were looking for. If they wanted to buy a product and it wasn’t available in their local area, they would have to travel to get it. Or in some cases, they could order via a catalogue or mail order company.
In addition, there was the uncertainty of whether the retailer they were buying from was reputable, especially if it was in a town or city that they were not familiar with.
With the fantastic invention of the Internet, how things have changed!
Consumers have ditched the Yellow Pages to find companies selling goods they want and they no longer have to travel to another part of the country to locate and purchase goods. They now rely almost entirely on the Internet to guide them to products and services that they want.
They are able to read online reviews from other consumers informing them all about both the product or service and the retailer themselves.
They don’t even need to be sitting in their homes or offices to do this. That information is freely available right there at their fingertips on their mobile phones.
It could not be easier.
It has also had knock on benefits for the retailers too. The internet is an essential, cost effective marketing and promotional tool.
Local companies now have a platform to compete on an equal level with the ‘big boys’ and can promote their business to the world. They no longer have to spend millions advertising to a national and international audience. Effective marketing is a mere drop in the ocean to what it used to cost and in a lot of cases it can be done free by word of mouth on social networking sites and in the search engines.
Then, just when you think that things couldn’t get any easier, Google decide that they want to show you some love by making an even easier and more effective way for you to promote your business with the launch of Google Plus Local.
If you are not familiar with Google Plus Local you are going to love it and be very excited.
Google created Google Plus Local as a way to combine its search engine, social networking and business directory features.
What this means is customers can now search out and find detailed information on local restaurants, shops and other services without having to do multiple searches. Everything is linked and available at their fingertips.
Google’s aim is for every business to take advantage of this powerful and popular tool and use their dedicated page as an effective advertising platform for their company.
Google assigns each business its own page. On your company’s very own Google Plus Local page you can include maps, contact details, photographs and other important information relating to your business. Once your page is set up and ready, your customers can use the page to rate your company, write reviews and add photos. Your page will be visible in Google search results and on Google maps.
It has added a feature called Zagat ranking and is an important feature of the business directory. Zagat uses a 30 point scale to rate different aspects of a company. For instance, if you owned a restaurant, customers could rate your food, décor and service using a rating system from ‘poor’ to ‘perfection’.
It gives you an opportunity for your business to shine on the Internet and bring customers flocking to your premises or to use your services.
Everybody knows Google. It is the most popular and important search engine on the Internet. It constantly evolves and changes to make the search experience even better for both the consumer and retailer.
Google Plus Local is based on its predecessor; Google Places. Google Places gave businesses the option to include a map and some basic information about their business, and in most cases this would rank it on the first page of a Google search.
That was enormously successful and was a huge help in getting local businesses found easily by customers looking for their types of products or services.
The most significant change with this new and updated version is its complete integration with the ‘Google Plus’ social network, which some claimed was Google’s answer to Facebook.
While the social networking aspect of Google Plus is not as successful or popular as Facebook at the moment, it is gaining more and more members as businesses catch on to how powerful this concept is for their company.
The main benefit of this service is its ability to increase the profile of your business. It also allows you to connect with your customers on a more personal level.
However, just like any other form of advertising, to make the most of your Google Plus Local page you need to develop a clear strategy.
For example, a plan of action would be:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
As part of an official Google service, your page already gets a boost in the search engines results. But to make the most of the service, it is still important to continue focusing on SEO. By including relevant keywords, keyword phrases, backlinks, regular updates and other SEO content you can guarantee to not only improve your business’s listings placement but also make sure that your competitors never beat you in the search engine rankings. (Don’t worry if any of this stuff has bamboozled you. We are on hand to help you or do it all for you. The important thing is not to let it put you off or decide to bury your head in the sand and try to ignore it. The internet is not going away. So in order for your business to be given a fighting chance you need to start now).
Integrate social networking
We are all familiar with Facebook, Twitter and the importance of Pinterest but don’t ignore the Google Plus social networking site. Google rewards businesses handsomely with higher rankings when companies interact with their customers on the social networking site. It can dramatically improve your profile in the local area.
Making the most of Zagat
The customer ratings you are given will be a very prominent part of your page. Don’t let this scare you. Even the best companies get occasional bad reviews. By encouraging your customers, whatever their comments, to leave a review, you can ensure that you get representative overall results.
Dealing with any negative feedback
As mentioned earlier, every business, no matter how good it is, will get a negative comment from time to time. It is impossible to please everybody all of the time. However it is wise to develop a strategy that deals with negative comments as soon as they occur. Always act in a professional and engaging manner which will stop it causing damage to your reputation.
Potential customers won’t mind the negative review but what they will be interested in is how you handle it. If you rant and rave, call the person who left the comment ‘a liar’ and insult them then new customers won’t deal with you. If, on the other hand, you are courteous and professional and offer a solution, it will reassure new customers to trust and buy from you or use your services.
Better Search Ranking
You will definitely see better search rankings. This is important as statistics show the majority of people only visit sites on the first page of their search results. Of that page, the top 3 results are far more likely to be visited than any of the others.
By using Google Plus Local to get your company’s page into this prominent position, you can guarantee more visitors to your website and get more sales.
Once you have increased your search engine rank, placing a link to your official business website on your Google Plus Local page will significantly increase its traffic and the number of customers you will get.
How to Begin
We know that the internet world is daunting for many small businesses. Our worry is that local businesses will either put off taking action or try to completely ignore the internet and kid themselves that it isn’isn’t happening.
Please don’t do that.
If you would rather spend more time running your business and less time trying to promote it online, hiring an online marketing expert like us is the ideal solution. We know exactly what we are doing and can get fast results for your business so you can speed up the process of gaining more customers.
If you or your company has never tried to implement a Google Plus Local strategy before, you could try and do it yourself. To be honest, any action is better than doing nothing at all.
However, there are lots of potential pitfalls to run into. Adding content that yields a very low search engine result, or building up a bad relationship in the social networking area with your customers, are just a couple of the potential problems you could face.
Why not make sure that your company’s Google Plus Local Page is in the hands of professionals who will not only improve your earnings and profits but also help ensure your business’s survival in the future.
Please contact us today. We are here to help and are looking forward to hearing from you.
As a business owner, you will have witnessed first-hand how the Internet has had a huge impact on customers buying habits.
In fact by now, unless your business is based in a cave in the outer reaches of Siberia you should have either set up a website or at the very least had somebody seriously suggest that you should.
Despite all of the evidence, it is surprising to discover that there are still some business owners who remain skeptical, not fully convinced that having a website really is necessary.
One of the most common reasons given to us for not going online is the business owner feels a website would take too much time and energy to set up or that they are a luxury not a necessity.
Others claim it would be a waste of time. They get enough business from passing trade so they don’t need to bother going online at all.
Even if a business is doing well from passing trade at the moment, it is still good sense to go online. If you don’t, not only will your current customers who use the internet for as part of everyday life be surprised that you are not online but you will lose thousands of potential new customers.
1) Sell to a wider audience
Your bricks and mortar business is restricted to passing trade and how many people are in town that day. If you want to reach out to a wider audience traditional means of advertising in the local press, radio, TV and flyers are very expensive.
On the Internet however, you can easily expand your brand to a global audience for a fraction of the cost or even free using clever online marketing and search engine optimization.
2) People look for local businesses online using their smartphones
Smartphones can literally put your business at your potential customer’s fingertips. Statistics show customers regularly use their smartphones to find local businesses close to where they are. If they are using the Internet to search online for local businesses, your business really needs to be there so that they can find you. If it isn’t, they will just buy from your competitor instead.
How much would it cost in staff wages and electric bills if you were to keep your bricks and mortar business open 24 hours per day? Would you not be excited if you could keep your business open 24 hours a day without losing any money in the process?
Not just that but you could be receiving orders from all over the world no matter what time it was.
That is exactly what the Internet allows you to do. Even if your business does not actually sell a physical product, people can always contact you via email or learn about your business without waiting for you to open during your normal business hours.
4) People use the Internet to find out more about businesses they already know about.
Don’t think you should be online so that only brand new customers can find your business. One of the most common ways people use the Internet is for your existing customers and people who already know about your business to look online for research. They want to know things like: What time does the local coffee shop open? Are there any special deals at my dry-cleaners? Does my favourite Chinese restaurant have vegetarian options? If you want your customers to be able to know everything about your business, a website is the perfect way of making the information available whenever they want it.
5) Build a loyal following
Although the Internet is a huge, think of it as more than a vast wilderness to try and promote your business. The Internet is a community and with sites like Facebook and Twitter you can communicate and engage with your customers no matter which part of the world they come from as if they were your friends.
This allows you to connect with your customers on an emotional and personal level, which is much more effective than an ad in a local newspaper or a flyer. When you engage with them you will build a loyal following of fans and customers who will buy from you again and again.
6) Your competition is already there
Spend a few minutes on Google and search for businesses similar to yours in your local area. The chances are your competitors will already have a presence on the Internet. If they are, why let them steal all of the customers when you could have a website quickly and easily?
Having a website means you can always appear up to date to your customers. You can share the latest news, update your inventory, add relevant information you think your customers should know and even answer customer’s questions almost immediately.
So while your bricks and mortar business might not be open 24 hours a day, your website is. It is too good an opportunity to miss.
8) Promote your site for free
Google wants your business to succeed. It is your company’s best friend. It is constantly improving to make sure that when people search for businesses like yours, they will find you. Being found on Google is completely free and will boost your profits.
When you see the potential you will soon want to explore other avenues of online marketing, all of which deliver equally exciting results and a huge profit for your business.
If you have been putting off setting up a company website or thought that it was too expensive and complicated, please contact us and you will be in for a very pleasant surprise.
Not only will it be cheaper and easier than you imagined but you will be delighted with the extra sales that you will receive.
Don’t put it off and give us a call today.
Every so often we come across a client who refuses to acknowledge the positive effects the Internet would have on their business and think it is completely irrelevant to them. This is particularly the case with regards to social media.
“Oh my client base doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter” or “Our business isn’t aimed at kids.They are the only ones who use Facebook and Twitter. Our customers prefer the traditional methods of marketing”.
Can you believe that?
It is so frustrating for us as we can see their business struggling and we want to help them so much but there is not a lot we can do when they point blank refuse to reach out to a larger audience online using the Internet.
For anybody else who doubts the power of online marketing using social media platforms, here are some hard facts and figures that will make your head spin. The numbers are staggering and it shows the global impact that social media marketing is having on all aspect of business and personal life.
There are now over 1.15 billion Facebook users. People have been saying that Facebook has peaked but that figure is a 21% increase in just 12 months. Facebook is still the most popular platform and is now part of every day life.
We have talked a lot about Google+ recently. It has become the second biggest network during the last 6 months and continues to grow at a fast pace. It is finally reaching a point where Internet users are starting to become aware of it and are curious about how to use it.
Google+ now features in thousands of retweets, shares and traffic on the internet every day, which is a good indicator of how popular it is and why it shouldn’t be ignored.
Recent stats recorded on ExpandedRamblings.com reveal that Google+ has 343 million ACTIVE monthly users.
At the time of writing, Twitter is preparing to be floated on the stock market. Who would have predicted that when it first appeared?
Twitter is every bit as much a part of everyday life as Facebook and Google are. Almost every television program is using Twitter to obtain feedback and comments. News reports follow and report events based on Twitter comments. Everybody from movie starts to politicians use it to full effect to attract millions of followers and admirers. They know that it is a perfect marketing tool.
The concept is so easy and its power stems from that simplicity because it offers real time feed and news breaking capabilities.
According to a MediaBistro.com, the figure released in August 2013 show that Twitter has over 500 million users (35 million of those are in China alone).
Over 170 billion tweets have been sent, which averages out at about 400 million tweets PER DAY.
These are truly mind-blowing figures.
Facebook and Twitter are the platforms that create the most noise but LinkedIn, which is one of the older social networks, has been quietly working on making its platform more social over recent years and should not be ignored. In fact as a business this is the platform you should definitely be exploring to reach clients and contacts within your industry.
Again, the most recent figures reported by ExpandedRamblings.com reveal that LinkedIn has now exceeded 238 million users.
YouTube is the world’s most popular online destination for video sharing and creation and is absolutely fantastic as a marketing tool.
After revealing that every single one of the Ad Age top 100 brands had run advertising campaigns on YouTube, the social media giant recently reported this statement on its very own blog:
“….And today, we’re announcing a new milestone: YouTube now has more than a billion unique users every single month.”
The words ‘one billion users’ just rolls off the tongue and is too big to comprehend, but to put things in perspective and to show how enormous this figure is, the blog continues:
“What does a billion people tuning into YouTube look like?
There was a lot of excitement when Facebook first bought this fun and quirky image app company for $1billion. It hit headline news all around the world.
A lot of analysts thought that Facebook had more money than sense but it turns out to be a wise investment as it has helped Facebook move into mobile advertising and continues to grow every month.
From its launch in 2010, Nitrogr.am reports that there are over 150 million active users and over 16 billion photos have been shared (an average of 55 million photos every day).
Instagram is a great social media tool that will help your business to engage with your customers, build relationships and increase your sales.
Pinterest very quickly captured the public’s imagination soon after it was first launched.
The online “pinboard” social media platform has had a huge impact on how we use the Internet, even influencing the new Google+ design.
We have written about Pinterest before in previous articles but will be returning with another article very soon to show you just how powerful a marketing tool this is for your business.
To convince you of the popularity and influence of Pinterest, here are some facts and figures which again come from ExpandedRamblings.com:
There are currently 70 million users and Pinterest receives 2.5 billion page views EVERY MONTH. The average shopper on Pinterest spends between $140 – $180 on products.
Vine is relatively new and if you haven’t heard about it before, then you will find the article in this month’s edition very informative. Suffice to say, even if you have never heard of it before you will soon be hearing a lot about it over the coming months as its popularity spreads.
To put you in the picture mediabistro.com reports that 5 Vine videos are tweeted every second.
On the 20th August 2013 Twitter posted a tweet to announce that VINE had reached 40 million users and that figure is growing every day.
This is a huge growth considering it was only released earlier on in the year.
Tumblr is another company that was bought by an Internet Giant, this time Yahoo. The purchase was greeted with a lot of consternation especially from the Tumblr community whose audience are typically young and tech savvy.
Despite reports that the Tumblr users are deserting the site, Quantcast still report that it has 245 million unique visitors every month.
Despite being one of the oldest social sites (it was launched in 2009) it is one of the less mentioned platforms.
However you should not underestimate it, as it is particularly useful for bricks and mortar business giving them a stronger online presence. It is a perfect way to build a strong relationship with your customers by rewarding them with special offers and other benefits.
The number of users is around 30 million. Again, watch out for our future article, which shows you how to use this excellent business tool.
As you can see, rather than being something to ignore, social media marketing has become an indispensable tool to build relationships, engage with your customers and increase sales like never before.
The success in social media marketing comes from building strong and long-lasting relationships with your customers over months and years. You do this by providing them with the type of content and expertise that they will want to share with their friends, colleagues and family.
This approach will help to attract and keep loyal customers and is an approach worlds away from most traditional forms of advertising and marketing.
As the Internet evolves, so does social media. It is an ever-growing, ever-changing sector and as a result it is daunting for many businesses.
This is where we can help. We can help you with your social media campaigns while you concentrate doing what you do best, and that is running your own business.
If you had no idea how big social media marketing was until you read this article, or you have struggled running your own successful campaigns in the past, please give us a call and let us show you how we can significantly increase your profits.