Finding Qualified Local Clients
There are about 49 Million local businesses in the United States and Millions more around the World. The rise of Internet marketing and the switch in customer behavior that has taken place in the last 10 years has dramatically changed the way businesses are promoted.
It’s hard for people to believe who use the Internet regularly, but in 2011 around 40% of local businesses still don’t have a website. The reason for this is often that the owners just aren’t technically confident to manage online communication or they have heard stories of websites not working or making any difference (which is often the case) and they don’t see the need to put time and money into representing their business online.
Please pay attention here – without buy-in on a belief level and a financial level to a high enough degree to make a quality website with good Search Engine tagging and interaction via email or contact forms – starting with a website is not going to create a happy customer getting good to great results. In almost ALL cases, the best direction to go IF the decision maker expresses interest in doing online marketing is to start with what will create the most immediate impact and results and what will require the least emotional, financial and time commitment for them.
There are some Local Marketers and Social Media consultants that insist on instilling shock and awe in all the whiz bang techie terms, the latest and greatest Social this and that and making some big mystery out of using the Internet. We don’t fly the fear flag here!!!
What Is Best for the CUSTOMER? (the customer of the business)
If that is not the primary concern of the business owner AND the Local Marketer AND who is handling the Social Media… STOP.
Here is the simple starting point:
“When people need a product or service, when they want to go do something or get somewhere, when they can’t ask or don’t want to ask a friend or family member for a direct recommendation – what do they do?”
A very large percent of people use their computer or a smart phone to look up what they want or need on the Internet, or they have a family member or employee do it for them.
How Do They Search?
Almost everyone uses a Google, Bing or Yahoo search as a starting point – they are beginning to find enough business listings that many use facebook to Search.
They might search for the business name directly if they have seen it on an ad or are already a regular customer. (An expert Local Marketer will focus attention on bringing in NEW customers.) They do not look at print Yellow Pages, they do not start with online Yellow Pages – usage of these is continually dropping… why?
People Want To Type In What They Want and Where They Want It and Get A Selection of Choices That Make Sense.
If they need a Plumber and they live in Menomonie, Wisconsin – they might type in Plumber Menomonie… or Plumber 54751… or Best Plumber 54751… or clogged drain Menomonie, WI
If they are going out to eat, they might search for restaurants by the kind of food, by the location or by whether it has a Coupon offer.
If the business does not have listings with the keywords (important words, location info and phrases) potential customers think of or tags on their website with these words, the business will not get found by customers searching on the Internet or their cell phone. (Using words YOU like or cute taglines will not get results. If Joe the Plumber names and tags things referring to himself as a “porcelain and pipe repair specialist” he can probably get high rankings for that term… but no one is searching for it when they want a plumber, so Joe remains invisible.) If the business wants to use terms and phrases that people won’t know or think of naturally – and some insist on doing this – STOP. If you can explain this to them and they will agree to use their “special” taglines and terms as “accents” then move forward.
What Shows Up FIRST in Search?
This has changed in the last year – and it will continue to shift this direction – the first results are based on how a business is set up and tagged on their Google Places page, what kind of reviews and recommendations show up for the business and whether the customer has any Social Media connections that have recommended, liked or given a review of the business. (this is new)
So Priority ONE to create visibility and attract NEW customers is to be on the top of the first page of Search results. 90% of Searchers click on listings in the top 1/3 of page one results. They will click on 3 listings that interest them – if they don’t select one of those 3 listings, they do a fresh search.
In the facebook arena – people look for Social proof, they engage much more with facebook pages with pictures and friendly interaction between the business and the customers on the page.
Coupons are another decision factor for some customers – Google Places pages allow for one coupon at a time and our Supercharged Coupons for facebook are great visibility builders as well because they get shared to friends of the customer selecting the Coupon.
Reviews are make or break qualifiers… if a business has bad reviews to any degree beyond the occasional crank or reasonable mistake, don’t engage. Bad Social Proof is too strong for the average local business to overcome unless they are willing to correct the problems, spend additional money and substantial additional time creating more listings with intriguing information and cultivating lots of good reviews.
The Mobile Factor
Because use of mobile phones, smart phones and tablets has become a primary way people get information – especially when they are traveling or away from home or the office – it is good marketing to ensure that business information and listings show up on mobile devices.
The Bad News – Mobile Sites have to be kept updated for new wireless protocols, changes in display screen sizes and they have limited bandwidth and image display capabilities compared to a full sized website.
The Good News – there are plugins for WordPress based sites that “translate” the site into a mobile friendly format and keep up with changes pretty well.
The Better News – If a business has a verified and completed Google Places page or a facebook Business Place page or the Bing and Yahoo versions – these are automatically updated to look great and provide clear information on mobile phones of every variety imaginable.
The BEST News – Google Places pages show up on top of page one for Local Search results on computers and cell phones! Facebook Business pages show up on top of the listings if the customer is searching from inside facebook on computers and cell phones!
So What Is Best for the Customer of the Business?
- Making sure that the business is easy to find, that the information about hours, location, what they do, reviews, coupons, and pictures, videos and additional information is verified and completed on the MAJOR platforms of Google Places, a facebook Business page, Bing and Yahoo listings.
- Creating EASY ways for customers to ask questions, contact the business and share information, discount coupons or special information.
- Only moving into other Social Media channels as the business is prepared to pay attention and engage with customers there.
The Result? More New Customers, More Profits and Happy Business Owners
BONUS eBook!!! Pictures and special links you can use to find, evaluate and contact Local Businesses that need Local Marketing and Social Media services
This article is included in the book, so you can skip the first part – then there is a step-by-step system for profiling businesses and qualifying them as good potential candidates for your services.
Following this section is an overview of our Supercharged Coupons – these are relatively new and you may not be familiar with them as a local marketer or Social Media manager. (the facebook Coupons are a terrific calling card when contacting new potential clients)