5 Marketing Must-Haves for Local Businesses Just Starting Out

If you have just started your own business, marketing is probably the last thing on your mind. Learn five basic (and free) marketing strategies you need to start today.

BY: SOLOMON THIMOTHY ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 11, 2015
5 Marketing Must-Haves for Local Businesses Just Starting Out

Small, local business owners have a lot on their minds, especially when they’re just starting out their business. Time is limited and budgets are tight. All available time and energy is dedicated to being at the business and ensuring that everything goes smoothly.

If you run a café that means you’re checking that the kitchen is putting out food in a reasonable time and that your wait staff is doing a good job at servicing your clients. If you’re a lawyer, you’re spending the time reviewing client cases and ensuring you bill your time properly.

That leaves very little time to focus on marketing your business. However, marketing your business should be an equal priority to running your business. While the saying “If you build it they will come” may be true for some time or some businesses, this is not a reliable way to grow your business.

To get your small business on the right path to longevity, every business owner should implement these five key marketing must-haves.


1. Claim and Build Your Local Business Profiles
From shopping to searching for local businesses, today’s consumers depend heavily on the Internet to find new businesses or vendors. Ensure your business is found online by claiming all available business listings from major business directories including:

    ·Google My Business

    ·Yahoo! Business

    ·Bing Local

    ·Yelp!

    ·Yellow Pages

    ·Citysearch

    ·Mapquest

    ·Manta

    ·Superpages and more

Claiming your business profiles can mean the difference for your business. This is particularly important if your business is taking over a location previously associated with another business. Failure to update all of these directories with your new business information not only means you won’t be found, but it also means you could potentially be missing out on business from people thinking your location is another business.

Keeping your name, address and phone number (NAP) consistent across directories, you’ll help build your business’ online presence and set yourself up for future marketing.


2. Make Review Collection a Part of You Business
We all know that asking a client for a review is no easy task. It takes works and guts to ask existing clients to provide a public testimonial about the work or product they received from your business. Nonetheless, reviews can be huge for a number of reasons.

Build and Future-Proof Your Online Reputation

First off, positive reviews on your online business profiles are influential and can be the difference between acquiring a new client or not. Happy customer reviews also help minimize the impact of a potential negative review in the future. While it may take some work to get your customers to agree to provide you a review and actually execute on their word, having public reviews is a sure way to get attention from potential new clients.

Stand out from the Competition

Having reviews publicly online can also help you differentiate you from your competitors. Whether they have no reviews or have negative reviews, having positive reviews about your business will make you stand out.

Best Tool for Word of Mouth Marketing

Happy customers are also one of your greatest (free) marketing tools you can tap into. By far, word of mouth marketing is still one of the surest ways to close a new customer.

Reviews are key to building your online (and even offline) business reputation. Make this part of your process from the start to make sure you don’t miss out on these benefits.


3. Be Socially Present and Active
Many new businesses discard social media as unnecessary. Why create a Facebook page or a Twitter profile if we are just starting out? Just like reviews serve to confirm a potential client’s check-up on your business, social media offers social proof that your business is thriving and appreciative of its customers.

As a small business, you can use social media to create a buzz around your business or product and amplify your message. Remember that although you may only have a few fans or followers, those fans and followers have their own fan base.

You can use social media to:

    ·Announce grand openings, new products or special events

    ·Run promotions or offers

    ·Organize contests or giveaways

    ·Thank your customers publicly

    ·Learn what your customer base loves about your business

    ·Provide a unique inside look into your business for a more personal view of your business

Social media doesn’t have to become a full-time job, but it should be part of your marketing equation.


4. Invest in Your Website (Regularly) Just like you would want to make sure your shop or restaurant is constantly cleaned and refreshed to give the best impression to your guests or customers, you should think of your website in the same vein.

Many potential customers will experience your website before they experience your business first-hand. Don’t make a bad impression by having a badly designed or outdated website. Invest in your website regularly to make sure it makes that same great impression on every visitor.

What does this mean exactly? Updates to your website will vary depending on your business but these are updates that every business should make:

    ·Ensure website is mobile friendly

    ·New offers/promotions

    ·Recent recognition or awards

    ·New products or services

    ·Hours of operation

    ·Holiday/seasonal messaging

    ·Staff updates (if required)

The worst a visitor can see on your website is a website that has not been updated in years and looks abandoned. Don’t let this happen to you. Tend to your website on a regular basis.


5. Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Email Address
Most business owners are looking for immediate sales or sign ups from website visitors or even in-store visitors. While this is very important, an email address should not be underestimated.

Even if you don’t have a great strategy for using email addresses, start collecting them early on and grow your database. What was once a single email can quickly grow into hundreds and thousands of emails that can make your next promotion a success.

A few ways you can start collecting emails today:

    ·Offer coupons / promotions

    ·Provide an informative tip or piece of email

    ·Give access to free trials or tools

    ·Host an event

    ·Offer a giveaway or prize

No matter what industry your business falls in, an email address can be a powerful vehicle to reaching a new customer.

How to Tackle it All

Making your business run smoothly is your priority. So how will you ever have the time to implement all of these marketing strategies? And even when you do have the tie, will you know how to implement them? You know what you do best. If implementing all of these strategies is out of your realm of expertise, look for someone who can.

From an employee to an intern, marketing your business should not be out of your reach. Once you have a steady business you probably want to work with professionals to ensure you are getting the most out of your marketing initiatives. Until then, maximize your use of available resources.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Solomon Thimothy

As the founder and CEO of OneIMS and Clickx, Solomon Thimothy has built his career around his passion for helping other businesses grow an online presence and thrive in the digital world. Solomon works with clients big and small to develop uniquely customized and highly-effective marketing strategies that meet every company's individual goals. Follow him on twitter @sthimothy.

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