The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak is taking a toll on all of us, especially local business owners. This is the type of crisis that can literally bring devastation on so many levels and quite frankly it already has. Schools and businesses are closed. Conferences and networking events postponed. Travel has been restricted and so on. However, if you think about it, this could very well be the opportunity you need to fall back and regroup with your own business development plans.
As business owners and entrepreneurs, we’re constantly in a state of flux. But now, we have an opportunity; an opportunity to leverage time. With closures abound and fear in the air, don’t buy in to panic and give it more power — get strategic. You might be thinking “Yeah, I got this!” but on the other hand, you might be thinking, “yeah but, how do I do that and where do I start”?
Here’s where you’re going to start. You’re going to change your mindset to think global and act local. You’re going to create a new marketing strategy and you’re going to find a faster path to revenue when all this is said and done.
1 - Increase Your Online Reviews
The fastest way to gain traction and dominate your local market, is to increase the number of your four and five-star business reviews. Online reviews are a third-party validation that influences how consumers purchase. Consumers will check out your reviews first before they’ll go to your website.
Current statistics indicate that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation and 73% of consumers view reviews two months or older as irrelevant.
Companies that have positive reviews get more business, in fact, 95% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase and 73% of consumers trust a local business more after reading their positive reviews.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon says, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they are most likely to tell 10 friends. If you make customers unhappy in the digital world, they can influence 5,000 plus friends and connections.”
2 - Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Think of your website as a rocket and Search Engine Optimization is the fuel. Without it, you won’t have lift off. You have to in place an effective SEO strategy in order to be seen online. This is important for local businesses that want to appear on the first page of search engines, such as Google.
You’ll definitely want to add a little more gas to your SEO fire and in order to do so, we recommend setting up a Google My Business (GMB) profile. It’s free and will definitely support your SEO strategy, especially when you publish keyword rich content in your business description, products, services and other offers.
Note to file: It doesn’t matter how pretty or functional your website is, if no one can find it, it doesn’t exist.
3 - Highlight Your Business in Other Online Places with Backlinks
Connect with other online places such as directories and authoritative websites. This will assist you by strengthening your local marketing strategy. These “connections” are called backlinks and they’re a critical component of a successful SEO plan. Qualified backlinks enable a website to leverage the domain authority and trust of another site, which will have a positive impact on your search rankings. You’ll definitely want to enlist the support of an experienced SEO professional to set these up though. Don’t just start adding backlinks on your own. It takes a high degree of technical savvy and long-term relationships to implement successfully. Don’t risk having your website relegated to the dreaded Google sandbox. This could devastate and erase your business online. Hire a professional!
4 - Level Up Your Email Marketing
Many people think that email marketing is dead — we know otherwise. Without a doubt, the most efficient and cost-effective way to maximize your marketing dollars, is the use of email marketing.
You’d think with the influence and reach of social media; the effectiveness of email marketing would be minimized — it’s not. The fact is, email is the most widely used form of communication today.
A solid email marketing strategy for your local audience would involve the following:
• Know your audience
• Build a targeted email list
• Use technology intelligently
• Create great opt-ins
• Create compelling subject lines
• Focus on design because it does matter
Each of these features can help you reach more potential customers, provide excellent service and build trust within your local community.
Make sure you are educated on the difference between explicit and implied opt-ins. You can’t just add people to your email list without their consent.
5 - Start Blogging
In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. When it comes to marketing and especially content writing such blogging, it’s all about consistency, consistency, consistency.
A great way to increase engagement and move your search rankings up, is through consistent blogging. Creating fresh content will tremendously support your SEO strategy. Publishing new blog posts consistently means that your website will be updated more frequently — which increases your chances of getting better rankings, more views, more website visitors, increased lead conversions that ultimately deliver more business for you.
As a best practice, we recommend creating at least one blog per month and ideally two. Study your SEO ranking reports to identify which keywords need to improve then create a compelling story around them. You’ll want to have no less than 500 words in your blog and ideally, you’ll want to land closer to the 1000-word mark. Google likes this and will reward you with higher rankings.
6 - Increase Your Social Media Presence
Last but not the least are social media channels. Establish an active presence on as many platforms as it makes sense for your business. This is one of the most important things you can do to increase your local presence.
Sure, you might be on Facebook — but are you doing all it takes for your business to expand its local reach on this platform? Also, are you increasing the reach through other platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube? Tip: increase your social presence wherever your ideal client hangs out. If you have B2B business model, LinkedIn is a solid option for you to consider.
We said it earlier — don’t buy in to fear, get strategic and leverage this opportunity of time. Create a new marketing infrastructure plan now, so you can reset your business growth curve to gain momentum.
The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising if you’re doing less than $5 million a year in sales and your net profit margin – after all expenses – is in the 10 percent to 12 percent range.
— Beth Devine is the founder and principal of Devine Solutions Group, an award-winning digital marketing and business agency headquartered in Tracy, CA. You can connect with Beth by either calling 833-933-8463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.