to Promote Your Local Business Online
(Without Spending a Lot of Money)
Savvy business owners
are catching on to the fact that the local online market is booming…
it’s predicted to be a $50 billion market by 2006. There
is no doubt that the future of the Internet is local - and if you
don’t get your local business into the act now, it may be too late.
Look at how the big
boys are reaching out to consumers, driving traffic to their local stores.
Staples, Office Depot, Wal-Mart - these guys are all going after the local
market in a big way.
Because they know
that people spend 80% of their income within 20 miles of home…
and that consumers are turning to the Internet to research products and services
before they buy.
Now, maybe you
can’t compete with those deep pockets financially, but it doesn’t
take a million dollars to have a successful web presence. Here are seven easy
ways to promote your local business online... and they don’t cost a lot of
URL Everywhere (you do have a website, don’t
Any and every
thing that may come in contact with a customer should have your URL on it.
Business cards, bags, flyers, newspaper ads, your store window, free giveaways
-- as you re-order your stationery and promotional items, just add your URL.
Simple and painless.
with other local businesses
One of the most powerful
strategies for promoting your business is to team up other business
owners, especially those who already have websites. You probably can learn a
lot from their experiences, and there are all sorts of ways you can work
together to benefit all. For example:
Exchange - each website can have a special
page just for links to other (non-competing) businesses, giving each
business a chance to pick up new customers at no cost. These links should
NOT be on your main page, unless you want your visitors to click away the
minute they hit your site.
Exchange - every week or two, each business
owner can send a special mailing to their list with coupons from all of the
businesses. Each business has a chance to get some new business without
spending a cent.
Guide - if there’s no local business guide
in your area, why not team up with some other business owners and create
your own? You may be able to find a web designer that will go in on it with
your group, just for the exposure and the chance to sell his services to
individual business owners later. He could help promote the website in
exchange for referrals or the right to sell ads on the site later.
selling a product or a service, local business guides can be one of your best
traffic generators. People are increasingly turning to these local directories
to look for goods and services. Get your site listed in as many local guides
and directories as you can find. Some charge for a listing, but many are free
because they’re just starting out and need to get listings.
So get listed for
free while you still can. Many businesses are still not taking advantage of
this great source of traffic, so you could easily be the only listing
in your category. I’ve heard more than once about consumers who patronized a
business because it was the ONLY listing in its category.
You’ve heard that
“It’s not what you know but who you know.” Nowhere is this
more true than on the Net. Whatever your business or interests, there are
others out there just like you, networking and exchanging information. You
might even be able to find a local message board where you can meet other
business owners and prospects. Join in and share, and you’ll
find yourself getting customers and referrals without really trying.
Here is an easy,
but often overlooked source of new business…ask existing customers to
tell their family and friends about your excellent products and services. If
they’re happy with you, they’ll be glad to make referrals. But don’t
expect them to think of it - remind them. And make it easy for
them - put a tell-a-friend script on your website, so they can do it
while they’re thinking about it. You may even want to offer some sort of reward
- one local business offers $25 worth of free dry cleaning when customers
refer 3 people who open an account.
This is a real no-brainer.
Almost everyone has an email address, and once you get it, the cost of staying
in touch with them is minimal. There are so many ways you can use email
marketing that a slew of books, software and businesses have been developed to
help you. But it all boils down to persuading your customers and prospects to
give you their email address, then building trust through repeated contact.
What could be
better than free publicity for your business? If you can find a public
interest or news angle to tie into your business, you should write a press
release, including website and email address so people can get more
information. Or your business can sponsor a local event or volunteer resources
to charity, giving your business (and your website) valuable exposure
while you give back to the community. There are lots of free resources for
creating press releases, and entire websites devoted to helping you get free
These are only a few
of the many ways you can promote your business locally. You never know how
someone is going to search for a business like yours, so you should use a variety
of methods to get your name out there where they can see it!
consumer is just a mouse click away from your store - but only
if you’re online. And with today’s technology, the targeting capabilities
and options are unlimited….even if your bank balance isn’t.
Sharon Fling is the
author of "How To Promote Your Local Business On the Internet",
and publishes an electronic
newsletter that gives business owners tips, tools and resources for targeting
To join her mailing list, send a blank email to: [email protected]
or visit http://www.geolocal.com.
Your Local Business Online"
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