Posts Tagged ‘local business’

Is there a need for an official small business online marketing agency?

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

I just saw this question on linkedin today, and I couldn’t help smiling. I just got a mailing for a new launch in the IM space today:

plus I saw another selling basically the same thing last month. The other launch is already over, but you know what both of these launches were selling? They’re teaching would-be internet marketers how to get into consulting for local business. Oddly enough, just what I independently decided to do two months ago. It’s worked out rather well so far if I do say so myself, a few networking meetings and some time spent in the linkedin question and answer section to show that I know a thing or two has let me land plenty of new connections in a relatively short period of time.

Here’s why it works: someone making a decent (but not great) buck doing affiliate marketing for dog training products would easily be able to just dominate the local google results in all but the biggest cities. I’ve gotten into this on the side myself while I’m lining up bigger product launch gigs in the infomarketing space. I’ve been kind of shocked to see how (comparatively) low competition the local business scene is. ‘dog training’ on the front page of google has all pages with hundreds and thousands of backlinks.

Seattle car repair on the other hand?

Nothing. Mostly pages with zero backlinks. A properly set up blog that’s updated a little with just a few low level feeder sites can net a business half the first page for some of the local key words.

Is there a need for an official small business online marketing agency? Here’s what there’s a need for… there’s a need for hope and health and prosperity among the local businesses in this country. We all know the numbers, there’s a lot of fear out there, and there’s only three things every business out there that’s struggling needs help with:

1. bringing in new customers
2. creating a better back end, so they can make more money per customer per visit
3. strengthen the customer relationship, so current customers stay on longer and come back more frequently.

Anyone who can do even one of those things with any degree of success is going to be have an easy time putting food on his plate, I don’t care if it’s a firm or a 12 year old kid, and if the local businesses in question believes they’ll be getting the results they need, I doubt very much they’d care either.

Your task: New Local Business Client. What Comes First?

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I’ve just recently started working with local businesses to help even out the cash flow in between product launch clients, and there’s one thing I’ve realized:

If there’s ever been a group that could profit quickly from some solid online help, it’s local businesses.

It’s a recession, and I know how many businesses are struggling to bring in new clients… but no wonder they’re having problems when they’re paying $3,000 for an ‘online brochure’.

No wonder they’re struggling when they’re managing their email list by hand. I kid you not, I’ve found multiple clients already that are doing just that.

No wonder they’re struggling when the action customers are supposed to take is to go to the ‘contact us’ page and call. Really? No call to action? No lead generating magnet above the fold? No tracking of any kind? Really?

So if you’re in local business or you have a friend with a local business, help them out. Make sure they’re using these two things, they’re both low cost and very high return on investment.

1. An auto-responder. Building a customer database and having an easy way to follow up is obviously critical. Do you know how much dentist offices raise business just by sending out an ‘it’s time for your yearly checkup’ postcard? Direct mail costs too much money to do regularly, and a good relationship with an email list can convert just as well if not better.

The most important parts of doing this right are going to revolve around choosing the offer you want to give people to sign up (‘free newsletter’ is not going to cut it, conversions are going to be in the tenth of a percent) and there’s also going to have to be a plan for having a good followup sequence. Testimonials and case studies woven in with content is a good choice. This also provides an easy way to monetize paid traffic within a few days, either by encouraging a phone call or some kind of purchase. Don’t forget to track! (google analytics will be my bonus third tool I’m recommending. It’s free, and anyone can figure it out in an afternoon).

So, how do you build an email list? Aweber. It’s simple, it’s cheap, and it does more than you’d ever need it to do. Businesses with an email list can often start cutting down advertising budgets on account of a much more steady flow of business from old clients.

2. the second tool every business needs is wordpress, hands down. Are you tired of asking your webmaster to change every little thing on the website? How long does it take him to make the changes when you ask? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go in and just do it yourself without having to learn all that technical nonsense? Enter wordpress. If you can use microsoft word, now you can manage your own website. The best part? It’s free, and it’s not any more expensive to get a wordpress style site done than it is to get a ‘normal’ site.

If you know what wordpress is (a blogging platform) you might be wondering whether or not your site will end up looking like a blog. That wouldn’t work for most businesses of course, so I thought I’d post an example to put your mind at ease:
would you have guessed this was a wordpress site?

best of all, it lets you regularly add good content to help bring in new people and build relationship with old customers. Nothing works better in SEO than regular content, and with wordpress you can even set it up so that you can just email your posts, it’ll add them to the site automatically. Or if that sounds too complicated and fancy, train the intern to post it and email them your posts instead.

Moral of the story? Use wordpress, I cringe anytime I see a business that isn’t. Then when you’re site’s up, use it to start building an email list and a permanent relationship with your customers.