People rarely watch commercials anymore. Print magazines and newspapers are on the decline. My Yellow Pages go straight to the recycle bin when they land on my porch. And can I tell you how much I HATE flyers randomly rubber-banded to my front door or stuck under my windshield wiper in a parking lot?
So how do you get in front of potential customers? It’s the internet, you betcha. And guess who’s going to find you first? The everyday Joe and Jane.
Guess who’s going to get you seen by Joe and Jane?
Nerds. Nerds like me.
Today’s post is a simple how-to for business owners on things you should have on your to-do list to get seen and the right nerds to get the job done. Everything here is actionable – so enjoy.
Strategy: Local Search
Type of Nerd: SEO Firm, Business Owner
If you’re in Google or Bing and you enter a search, guess what? Big Brother knows where you’re searching from. It’s magic, freakin’ A. If you’re a business looking to tap into your local market and mine new customers in your own backyard, you need to be optimizing your website for local search. But this is more than filling out a Google Places profile – it’s making sure your ducks are all in a row. Here are three things you can do to pimp your local search results today:
- Matchy-matchy: Did you know that it MATTERS how you write your business address? Yessiree. The address in the footer of your website, your contact page and in all of your online location-based profiles (like Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo!, CitySearch, Bing, Ask.com…) need to match. It’s really as picky as things like Street vs. St. If you’ve built any of these online profiles already, do a once-over and make sure they’re all matchy-matchy. If you haven’t built any of then yet…ummmmm…yeah. You might want to do that.
- Get yourself a local SEO audit: I really can’t emphasize enough that people who do SEO for a living (and do it well) are akin to surgeons in my book. It’s specialized labor and you should be throwing that kind of work at just any schmuck who says they “do” SEO. If you’re serious about tapping into the customer base in your own backyard, hire someone to do a local SEO audit.
- A cool guide to local SEO best practices: SEOmoz is the schiz and here’s a link to their Beginner’s Checklist for Small Business SEO (FREE!).
Interesting story: I was recently on the hunt for a cosmetic dentist in the greater Denver area. As no one I knew had one to refer me to, guess where I went? Google. “Cosmetic Dentist Denver.” I scheduled three appointments in one day and have found a dentist who will earn about $7,000 as a result of smart local search engine optimization. Granted, you have to KEEP the new business when you’re given the opportunity to earn it, but smart local SEO can get nerds like me in the door.
Strategy: New local customer acquisition
Type of Nerd: Email Marketing
Whether you’re a local sports pub, dentist, massage therapist, auto repair shop or just some guy hosting an event, you’re missing out if you’re not tapping into email marketing nerds. Sites like Living Social, Groupon, WeeklyPlus, and Voice make it easy for you as a business owner to get your message in front of THOUSANDS of new people in your own backyard. GAP recently did a Groupon campaign (it was so popular, it blew the site up and took hours to access the deal online…whoops!). I’ve found three new businesses here in Denver that I patronize regularly as a result of both WeeklyPlus and Groupon. My hair salon in Denver even found me on Facebook and told me that they had a deal on Living Social one day and I should hop on it (now THAT’S a business who understands online marketing AND customer service!).
Stop screwing around with buying lists and other crap email marketing techniques. When you’re after NEW customers, this special breed of email marketing nerds are a no brainer.
Strategy: Location-Based Apps
Type of Nerd: A savvy marketing consultant
Heard of Gowalla? FourSquare? Facebook Places? If you haven’t you’re under a rock. If you’re a brick and mortar business that wants to attract more foot traffic, you should do yourself a solid and explore these tools. Anyone with a smart phone (iPhone, Droid, Blackberry and more) can use these apps and here’s the jist: people “check in” when they arrive at your location. They share with their network WHERE they’re at and what they’re doing. And tons of businesses are getting on board with offer incentives to check in.
- Eateries can offer things like free french fries or beverages.
- Bars can offer a 2-for-1 drink special or free appetizers.
- Dry cleaners can offer a free shirt dry cleaning.
- Massage therapy shops can offer $5 off your next service.
- Hair salons can offer a free conditioning treatment.
- Car repair shops can give you a free tire rotation.
Find a mobile app-savvy marketing nerd who can help you explore campaigns, promotions and uses for location-based apps. Wouldn’t it be cool to have new foot traffic because your marketing nerds help you find nerds like me with a smart phone? The best part is: I’m a nerd who shares things I love with other nerds. And heck – I even share with non-nerds occasionally, too. A marketing nerd (like me) can get you in front of nerds (like me). There are tons of savvy marketing nerds just waiting to make you look good.
Nerd Love – embrace it for your local business. But honestly, you don’t have to listen to me. You can just sit there in your antiquated strip mall shop and hope your customers are sending you referrals. Or, as a dear friend once reminded me: you can hope in one hand and crap in the other…guess which one’s gonna fill up first?