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Admit it.

You’re just a little jealous of large corporations with bottomless pockets to spend on advertising. It seems like they can dominate any market. But, they do have a weakness – local markets. Even with billions of dollars, large corporations often find it difficult to compete against a well-positioned small business.

Here’s how to capture your local market using online marketing.

Engage Local Forums

One of the best things you can do is endear yourself to other local businesses. Find a forum where they hang out and get involved. In many cases, this also means joining the local Chamber of Commerce. Even if you’re not much of a networker, it pays to get in with other small businesses.

Why? Because those businesses also have customers. And, no matter how amazing a company’s product or service is, those customers aren’t going to spend 100% of their money with just one merchant.

This is why you want to make friends with other businesses, especially non-competing companies. You see, even if you do no marketing, if their customers become familiar with your name, then it’s almost like an endorsement of your business – even when there’s no official endorsement.

For example, if a local company hosts a client appreciation night, and it’s sponsored by other local businesses, make sure your name is one of those sponsors.

If a local little league needs to raise money for new uniforms, make sure you’re one of the local businesses supporting their cause. It gets your name out there so that when you approach customers directly, they’ve at least heard of you before.

Hire An Expert

If you’re not good at marketing, hire an expert. According to SEO expert Alex Miller, even small businesses benefit tremendously from SEO, especially local marketing.

A marketing expert can find your current weaknesses and help you patch them up so that your competition doesn’t exploit them. Most small companies just don’t have the budget to waste on strategies that go nowhere. And, unless you’re a large corporation, hiring an outside expert is probably the best way for you to shore up your marketing strategy without doing a lot of expensive internal testing.

How To Use Local Keywords

If you’re a small company that’s just starting out, then you should be focusing on local keywords to rank in the search engine results. Ideally, keywords that have low competition, and yet moderate to high traffic numbers are going to be your best bet.

For example, let’s say you run a flower shop in Elmira, NY. You want to run a Valentine’s Day promotion. You know you’re going to have stiff competition. This is a huge day for flowers. You might be tempted to use “Valentine’s Day flowers” or “Valentine’s Day bouquets” in your ads. Don’t.

Instead, you should use “Valentine’s Day Flowers Elmira” or something similar. You could also use variations on that keyword, like “Elmira Flower shops.”

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with keywords like “Valentine’s Day flowers” or “flower shops” or “Valentine’s Day flower specials,” a lot of the larger companies are going to be bidding on these words and will drive the costs up.

So, even if you do get customers, you’ll be paying a lot more for those leads than you should.

On the other hand, using local keywords will almost certainly be cheaper and your cost per click and, thus, your customer acquisition cost, will be much lower.

Invest In Good Content

Content is something most businesses cheap out on, and for insane reasons. They don’t “get” that content is an asset. A good writer costs between $50 and $100 per hour, or more. You might spend $1 per word to have a professional job done. Most businesses are playing around in the $0.01 to $0.03 per word. They’ll spend $15 on a 500 word article and believe that they’re spending a lot of money because they’re purchasing 10 articles in a batch.

The reality is that those 10 articles aren’t worth one article written at $1 per word, with a total word count of 1500 to 2000 words. Reason? Quality.

A 2000 word article could be a resource article – something that is sorely lacking in your industry. And, the writer could be a professional that has the educational background and writing experience to pull it off. And, at the end of the day, the job of that content is to bring in leads and educate your potential customers.

If it’s not doing those two things, it’s a waste of money, no matter how little you spent on it.


About the Author

Zak Manning is a marketing consultant who works with multiple small businesses, mostly in the retail sector. He enjoys sharing his knowledge online to help other businesses succeed and writes for a selection of business blogs.

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