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Both Local and Global: How Local Businesses Can Benefit from Online Marketing
Local business owners have heard, over the years, many sales pitches about the value of online marketing. Some local businesses have entirely ignored these sales pitches. Other local businesses have tried online marketing and seen it fail.
It may be time for a local business re-think on the topic of online marketing. Online marketing services, too, could use a re-do of their pitch.
Local Business Search Engine Marketing: First Things First
Local businesses arent much buying into online marketing. In a 2007 survey conducted by Opus Research, 25 percent of small business owners said they could not afford online marketing, with another 20 percent stating that they thought of Internet marketing as too complicated.
Basic local business search engine marketing doesnt need to be that complicated. A local business has a Web site. A local business tries to get that Web site to show up in the search rankings, when people are searching for a product or service that local business provides.
The first step to this process, and the most important, is to get a Web site up. The Web site does not need to be extensive, although it may help the rankings at the search engines if there is some helpful content related to the business. But the big deal is to get up a Web site with the business contact info and services offered by the business.
Just taking that first step is likely to yield some results when people search for geographically-based information, for instance by using "Torrance plumber" if theyre looking for a plumber in Torrance.
Many Forms of Online Marketing Are Free or Affordable
Using social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter is not a fully developed discipline yet, but many companies have interesting online marketing campaigns on social networks. Best of all, making efforts to use social networks for online marketing is free--and anyone can do it.
Of course, some people can do it much better than other people, and local business owners are not exactly overflowing with time. Therefore, sometimes an outsourcing arrangement to an online marketing firm can be a good decision if the price is right.
Local businesses may be surprised at the prices they may achieve when hiring an online marketing expert. Younger college graduates with marketing degrees may be good candidates because they know these new technologies backwards and forwards and, frankly, they need the money.
Online Marketing and New Sales
For local businesses, getting more business is the only reason to engage in online marketing. There is negligible benefit to doing "global brand-building" when there are no plans to expand the business. Fortunately, getting more business is what online marketing can do for a local business.
More business can result from showing up high in Google rankings for local search terms. Or from placing a lead generation form on your Web site and then contacting the lead and establishing a relationship. Or even from discovering, from potential customers, new products or services that may fill a needed niche.
Online marketing types should take note of the down-to-earth approach taken by local business owners. For these folks, theory is nothing compared to results.