6 Main Differences Between Local and National Marketing Strategies
A different strategy should be applied to marketing a local business. Local search has evolved tremendously in the last few years. Today national companies don’t clog up local searches as much as before, unless they have a local store. Below I’m listing some of the top actions local businesses should first focus on:
1. Focus on Google My Business
Concentrating on your Google business listing is probably one of your best investment as a local shop owner. Google did a fantastic job at taking directory to a different level. You can search practically any local shop in the U.S. and Google will give you the address, the hours the place is opened, reviews, pictures, AND a telephone number you can simply tap on from your cell phone to call the business! Wow. Great job Google, really.
It is imperative that you take good care of your Google My Business listing.
The ranking system for Google Local works differently than the organic search results. A few pointers would be:
- Continue harvesting legit reviews.
- Make sure all of the information is up to date.
- Post new pictures once in a while
- Publish on your Google Plus account
Cultivating the account with these actions on a monthly basis should help get you traffic.
Take advantage of it as it is free. Only cost you some work.
2. Then Focus on Top Local Directories
Then you need to look at the other directors that are popular in your town. In many cases, you’ll find out that it’ll be one of these:
At the moment of this writing, Yelp is very big almost everywhere in the U.S.
The way you find out what directory is popular in your area is by searching for your business industry keywords on Google. See what Google is giving you on page 1 and 2 of the results. Usually, you should find a few directories in there. Those are the ones you should concentrate one.
3. Create Content that is Mainly Geographically Focused
By content I mean pages, images, and videos on your website, on your social media business pages, and video channels.
Content that is written with a geographic focus would mean that it will incorporate local keywords and concepts.
If your business is in town A, make sure that you use it in your content. That simple. Don’t abuse of it though. Write for your people, not for the search machines.
Make it part of your monthly marketing plan to create new content. It could be as simple as one new page on the website. Or one new video. At the end of the year, you’ll have 12 new pages on your site. Doing a proper keyword and market research will give you the clues and the direction to take with your content.
You know your industry more than anybody else so I’m sure you can find topics and things to talk about. If you really don’t have time to write or don’t like it, hire a writer who can understand your story and your industry when you explain it to her/him. Then get that content on your site!
Though it’s the third point on my list, content creation is nevertheless one of the most important ones for a local business. It is third mainly because we need a starting point. There are directories that get a ton of traffic for your industry in your city and that’s why you should make sure you first show up well in those directories. And frankly, the first two points are usually easier to get done.
What kind of content would you like to see on your site within the next 365 days?
4. Make Sure your Website is Totally Mobile Friendly
Because people can look you up so easily from mobile devices, make sure you site looks really good on mobile. Here are some tips:
- Think mobile first when designing your website. Don’t think desktop first. Not all industries will get most of their traffic from mobile devices, but still it’s a rule that should be applied starting today! 🙂
- Make sure you communicate exactly what you want as close to the top as possible.
- If you’re a restaurant, make sure your menu looks good and can easily be read on a phone.
- If you’re a dentist or chiropractor, make sure the form for booking an appointment loads fast and properly, that it is short and easy to fill out.
- If you’re a local store and also selling your products online, make sure your online store works well, loads fast and it’s easy to find products.
- Look at your site on your phone and your friends’ phones. Make sure it looks right.
5. Keep Track of your Calls
You want to know where your customers found you. I always tell my customers that have local businesses to keep track of where people are calling you from.
Toward the end of the call with the inquiring potential customer, you can ask something as simple as “did you find us on Facebook or Google?” You don’t have to be intrusive, simply ask in an inquiring and interested way.
Keeping track of every call will give you some interesting numbers. Over time, will start to see how customers found you and where they are calling you from.
There are phone tracking systems we can install on websites but these are usually not needed. I would recommend them only if you are spending a decent amount of money on paid ads. I would also recommend them if you are getting a ton of calls every week. Otherwise, asking people is a totally legit method of tracking your online marketing.
By tracking your calls you want to know where you should be investing more of your marketing time and money.
6. You Can’t Really Opt Out from Social Media
We could write an entire book about this point alone. But I’ll be very brief:
- If you don’t see any benefits in doing something on those social media websites, especially Facebook, at least publish something on a regular basis.
Because some people will try to find you on Facebook and feel you out. Hey, if that brings you extra customers every month why not doing it, right?
If you’re not a big fan of social media, try publishing just once a week. That’s 52 times per year.
Just show that you are alive and caring.
Though it may not be true of all industries, realize that some local businesses are quite busy on social media and getting a ton of new clients through those channels. So minimally, I recommend showing that you are alive and interested.
Plus, today we see a Facebook ad system that is extremely potent. Facebook Ads are often still not as expensive as Google Adwords (at the moment of this writing) and you can target your specific audience (potential customers) quite well. And, you can discover new audiences for a relatively low overall cost. For my local customers, I usually recommend running Facebook ads every month.
Local Rankings Today
With Google’s advanced local search things have changed over time. Today, it’s usually much harder for national and international companies to take over the organic results of a particular locality.
A unique, local restaurant can create enough online interest and show up #1 despite the giant chains. Do a search for yourself and you’ll see what I mean. Same applies for different typically local businesses.
The online marketing strategy for a national/international brand is usually very different (referring back to the six points covered earlier):
- Google My Business is not at the top of the list on the strategy.
- Local directories don’t really apply.
- More often then not, content doesn’t need a local flavor.
- Though mobile is as important, Google won’t list national brands locally unless they have a store in the area. Type in IBM computers in Google Maps on your phone and you’ll see what I mean.
- As far as tracking is concerned, it will very a lot for national companies. But since we’re usually dealing with bigger accounts and more money spent on ads, tracking and testing with different tools takes priority.
- At that level, social media spans groups and communities creation/maintenance, and it will often include multi-channel campaigns. Social media becomes a top priority in most cases.
I decided to focus on local businesses in this article and hopefully this shed some light on the differences it has with national companies.