Every business is not necessarily an online business – but you should be marketing like an online business!
You might not realize it, but there is still a huge misconception about brick and mortar businesses marketing online. That same misconception applies to many other business owners as well, not just retail, but businesses like doctor’s offices, hair salons, and even coaches and consultants who work with local clients.
The misconception is that if you are a local business or only work with local clients or customers you don’t need to market online. But nothing could be further from the truth.
People consume information much differently these days and in order to stay in front of your audience, you have to show up where they are hanging out. The prospective client I spoke to last week is not the only business owner that might think that they don’t need to be marketing online.
For businesses that deal directly with local customers foot traffic is the most important part of your business. Without people coming into your store, health care office or salon you won’t be making sales and you won’t be around too long.
Remember when we said people consume information differently than they did many years ago? The same is true when they are searching for something they want or need…they don’t pick up the yellow pages and search for a new doctor. They go straight to their mobile phone or computer and hit up Google!
They do a search for general practitioners in their area and Google gives them a list of doctors they might be interested in. If you don’t have a solid online marketing strategy your office probably won’t be making that list.
There are many ways for local businesses to grow through online marketing. Here are 5-ways brick & mortar and local business owners can take advantage of online marketing strategies:
- Be active and engaging on one or two of the many social media platforms available to you. Do some research with the customers coming into your office or store – ask them what platform they prefer? Select the top two of the ones you are hearing and start engaging there.
Most businesses these days has a Business Facebook Page – think of your business page as the old yellow pages. Many people will seek out your business on Facebook before calling for an appointment or stopping by your store.
- Having a local business allows you to encourage check-ins through Facebook and applications like Foursquare. Reward people when they check into your business by giving them a discount off their next purchase the next time they shop with you!
- Customer service is a huge part of brick and mortar businesses. Think restaurants…encouraging your guest to share a positive review helps your online business rating. Review sites like Yelp are extremely popular, but not just for positive reviews. People can get quite angry and share their complaint through online review sites.
If you aren’t online at all, you may have no idea what people are saying about you and that’s not good at all.
- Maybe you don’t sell anything online, but your business should always have a website and a domain name. It’s just Business 101 to build a website when you start your business. But just having the website is not enough.
Local businesses can take advantage of Google AdWords and SEO to drive specific traffic to your website. Facebook also allows you to create targeted ads where you can target specific geographical areas, right down to the zip code!
And one more word of advice – keep your website fresh and up to date. There is nothing worse than opening a website and clicking on events and seeing that the last thing there was 2-years ago.
- And last but not least…content, content, content! Even a doctor’s office can put out some great content that will be of interest to his or her patients. Write your content and post it to a blog that is housed on your website.
And share that content with your patients by email! Collect your customers / clients email addresses and ask them if they would be interested in receiving email information from your office or store. Allowing them to opt-in allows you to keep important information in front of them. Time for flu shots…notify your patients that you will be offering flu shots in your office on a specific day.
Re-think your marketing plan and think about how you can start to implement online marketing into your strategy. If you need help better understanding how online marketing can help build your local business, take advantage of our Online Marketing Strategy Session.
During this 2-hour session you will review your needs and educate you on the best strategy for your business, giving you options, ideas, and suggestions