The Internet has turned into a great local business marketing tool in the past couple of years. While local businesses have not yet adopted these tools into their marketing strategies, the technologies are moving forward with or without them. The convergence of Search, Social Media and Mobile Marketing is bringing business information with products and services into the hands of the local consumers.
Having had Internet business experience for the past 16 years, I can tell you that this is probably one of the few times where we can put all the local business marketing puzzle pieces together and see what marketing tools we have available over the next 2 – 3 years. Let’s review each one so we can see how the come together.Local Business Listings
In short these are the interactive yellow pages of the Internet. Interactive because as a business owner you can update and manage these listings at search engines, social communities, 411 web sites, GPS/Mapping websites and basic business directories. They are also interactive because consumers can post their experience they had with your business, products or services. In order to get started you need to claim, update, monitor and manage these listings at multiple local listing websites. Don’t have the time resources? Don’t worry, there are companies that provide local business listing management services.Local Business Listing Marketing vs. Data Services
As a business you will want to seek out companies that provide the marketing services. The companies that provide basic data services only push your information out, but they do not help you protect your listing from being hijacked or for that matter manage your listings for marketing purposes with various types of content like coupons, events, QR codes, consumer reviews, coupons and citations. The marketing services have a higher cost to them than the data services, because the marketing services are more effective and do more for your business.Consumer Reviews
This will be the first time that most local businesses dependent upon the local consumer for their revenue will need to manage their public relations. Consumer Reviews are not just about other consumers seeing the information, but too many negative reviews will adversely impact your website ranking position in search results. This is no longer about just consumers posting their frustrations to a website or blog, but directly into your local listing. As a business you will need to closely monitor these reviews and also begin to engage customers that have positive experiences to post their information as well.Local Listing Coupons and Mobile Coupons
The Local business listing gives the business the opportunity of posting their coupons, offers, and discounts. They are then available for consumers to find through web searches and through their mobile devices. While this is not available through all local listing websites or available for free, this is in no uncertain terms the demise of the traditional coupons.
If you promote your business then you will want to use the Events promotion tool within Local Business Listings. You can include Specials, Events, New Products, general News, pretty much any alert you which to make the local consumers aware of so they can find it through a web search or a mobile search.QR Codes
These small square bar codes will allow you to program them for consumer to scan using their mobile devices. The code will then do whatever is programmed to them. For example, a coupon, discount, offer, event, website link. You can also use them on business cards, websites, traditional ads, store window, and much more.Citations
This tends to add a level of complication for most businesses. If you’re familiar with the idea of inbound links, this is very similar only this time is not necessarily just about a link, but your company name, address, city, state, zip, phone and many other aspects that are related to what is known as HCards to include your longitude and latitude of your business address. Because this is a combination of marketing and technical expertise you may wish to get someone to help you with this item.Hyperlocal
Websites that are hyperlocal give a local business the opportunity of highlight targeted advertising and marketing to geography and demographic. While these websites are not as prominent for this purpose yet, this will change and needs to be planned for in 2011 and beyond.
Having had Internet business experience for the past 16 years, I can tell you that that geographic marketing is the direction of our immediate future. Hopefully I was able to portray to you some of the known components of local business marketing and how this local business marketing tool can be used to reach the local consumers.