Today’s climate has every business looking at ways to change the way they market their business. This is especially true for home services businesses. Homeowners need quality landscapers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC services and remodelers. When they need them, they will go online to find one. For those who already use online marketing, they are ahead of the game. For those small businesses that have not invested in online marketing, now is the time to take the plunge.
The beauty of online marketing is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot to implement. For local small businesses, changing the way you reach your target customers can have a big impact on your bottom line.
So where do you start? What marketing activities should your small business implement that will benefit you the most?
Here are 3 areas of to focus on as you pivot your marketing:
- Create your professional web presence
- Keep in touch with customers
- Ask for referrals
Create your professional web presence
First and foremost, make sure your online presence is the best it can be. Don’t take short cuts in this important area. People search for solutions online and will judge your business by what they see. Consider some or all of the following depending on your business and how much time you can spend. I have listed these activities in order or importance.
Build your site using WordPress
Get a professionally developed, responsive website in WordPress. For small businesses, WordPress websites make changing content and updating messages easy. WordPress puts control into the hands of marketers and small business owners. You can create fresh, relevant content to attract your ideal customer.
Control all the online accounts that make up or contribute to your web presence. These include your domain, website hosting provider and your local business listings. Also use your Google account to create your Google Analytics, Google Search Console or any other account in Google.
Do not let someone create them under their personal accounts. If your relationship with them falters, you will need to start all over again which will affect your business success.
Implement local SEO strategies
Local SEO extends organic SEO with a combination of online strategies to make your business more visible to those searching locally for products and services.
Claim and verify your local business listings on Google My Business (GMB) and Bing Places for Business. Research other industry directories and claim your business listing on those that make sense.
Create content that educates and inspires
Today, all content created for your business is strategic. First, develop a content strategy that organizes what content you should create and when. Having this content calendar in place will help you remain consistent with your publishing.
Then use this schedule to create compelling web content to attract attention and develop your expert reputation. Provide up-to-date educational information that speaks to your target audience.
Build an in-house email list
There are only two things your business actually owns when it comes to online platforms – your website and email list. Building your own in-house email list and providing a focused and well executed email marketing campaign is very effective for keeping in touch with your target customers.
Build your email list with an offer that encourages visitors to join. Having a strong, loyal list available when you have some special offer can be the difference in the success of a new program.
Select your social media platforms wisely
Select your social media platforms based on where you can connect with your target audience. Your social media platforms and local business listings in conjunction with your blog can create a powerful information network that makes it much easier for you to be found. Promoting your content on these social platforms can get you more visibility with the right audience. Not all businesses will benefit from social media, but those who will, should implement a social media strategy.
Ask for reviews from happy customers
The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business. But many small businesses forget to ask customer for online reviews.
Create a system where you automatically ask your customers when the job is complete. Start with getting people to provide a review on your Google My Business listing.
- Add a link to your website that takes customers straight to the review window
- Email your customers at the end of a job with the link
- Ask the customer when your project is complete
Never provide an incentive for the review. That is again Google’s and most review platforms terms of service. Also spread them out. Having a large number of reviews hit your listing in a week can raise suspicion that they may be fake. Getting a couple every month spreads them out and keeps fresh reviews visible on your profile.
Keep in touch with customers
Those who already do business with you should be one of your prime focus areas.
- Communicate with your customers and offer them special deals using social media where appropriate.
- Provide awesome customer service and quick responses to their questions so they can only brag about how wonderful you are.
- Implement a messaging function on your website or Google My Business so customers can contact you quickly.
Happy and satisfied customers who understand the value you offer will not hesitate to refer new customers to you.
Ask for referrals
Every small business should include referral marketing as one of their primary marketing activities because it will deliver long term results. With so much noise in the market, people don’t trust messages coming from your company directly. But getting a referral from a happy customer makes the sales process that much easier.
Most people like to help other people and will do it willingly if they remember.
- Ask for a referral is verbally at the end of a project.
- Join a referral marketing group such as BNI. This will also help you hone your ask since you are required to do so every week.
- Offer an incentive for a qualified referral. Some people call them finder’s fees. Others send a gift card to a local restaurant. Incentives are allowed when asking for referrals.
The power of word-of-mouth marketing, both online and offline, is valuable for small businesses. Being referred by a happy customer helps you develop credibility and expert reputation.
These are my choices for marketing activities that have the biggest impact. As the world becomes more virtual, your business needs to ensure you are visible when people are looking.
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