The most important places to be spending your time, attention and money when it comes to promoting business to local consumers – not other businesses – are those that help you to get yourself known for what you do, those that that get you found when someone needs you and those that can keep someone returning you – or at least leading people to recommend you to others.
I’m a digital marketing guy. I live on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. But I’ll tell you now, that as a regional small business that is far outside the reaches of the big metropolitan areas, some traditional media is still very powerful at getting people to recognise you and know what it is you do.
My own example started off with TV advertising. I got an incredible deal in my early days in my market to promote my business on one of the local TV network affiliate stations. And while there wasn’t much going on initially, after about 6 weeks the phone calls started. And then emails. And the “oh you’re the guys who are on the TV!” You see, no one else in my particular kind of business advertises on any of the local TV stations. So when I was getting all my free filler ads, I was getting way more than most others who advertised, because my ad didn’t clash with anyone else doing anything like what I do.
I have been doing a radio spot with a local radio station every week for the last year and a half. It’s just talking about technology and how it impacts our daily lives, businesses and relationships. But because I get to be an expert to a fairly large audience, I get leads to my business. I have a pretty stand-out name, so it’s hard to find me and what I do.
While more traditional media are dying a slow death, they are still really strong in regional markets. Much more so than in metro areas. It’s why you’ll heard all that “Boomtown” rubbish being flooded across a lot of regional TV and radio stations – even when the town they’re broadcasting to is in economic decline. These networks know that while they are going to be dead in the water in cities within 5-10 years, they still have growth potential in regional and rural areas where loyalty to existing media is still strong.
So now that you’ve done all that “getting known” stuff out there in the world of radio, TV or even Facebook, TikTok and Instagram, what are you doing about making it as easy as possible to find you when someone needs what you do? If you’re now well-known in your market, then people are going to type your name straight in to Google and hopefully find you. In fact, they’re likely to find you because you’ve been working hard on getting a brand out there. . But if you are one of 58 house painters in town and you haven’t been doing any of that brand work, you’re going to struggle to get anyone finding you on Google. Unless you’ve done at least a few things:
- You’ve set up a Google My Business profile that has a clear location area that it serves, and it comes up in that little pack of three results under the map in the search result pages OR
- You’ve been doing a whole lot of search engine optimisation work (known as SEO) to get your website and business name coming up near the top of searches for generic terms like “house painter in Margaret river” OR
- You’re paying for ads on Google to have your business come up in the search results higher just because you’ve paid for them OR
- You’re doing all of those things
There is no Yellow Pages or Local Search or Trading Post or funky little home grown business directory that is ever going to make a dent on Google when it comes to looking for businesses online. So get your Google presence under control and working for you, otherwise you’re not going to get found.
And if by some miracle you’ve managed to find yourself in a great position brand-wise, a great position on Google and the work is coming in nice and steadily, then you want to be somewhere that you can continue to be known to new and existing customers, as well as being very easy to refer people to when someone is asking your customers for a recommendation. And that means having a decent website that can be found in Google, and where these people can get solid information about you, ensuring that you’re encouraging your happy customers to write reviews about you on Google or recommendations on Facebook, TripAdvisor and those types of review sites. And it doesn’t hurt to ensure that you’re incentivising your customers to refer you on. If someone can get a card from you that gets them an extra free coffee when they next bring a friend along to a coffee meeting, then you’re spending little more than a couple of dollars to introduce someone to your business for the first time. The franchised Coffee Club group does this very well. I joined their Club that gives me a free 2nd coffee with each one I order. I can have that a second coffee to myself, or I can shout a coffee for my client, friend or someone else. By making it easy for me to shout coffee for a client, they keep getting me back to their coffee shops, even though their coffee isn’t any better than anyone else’s, and I’d honestly prefer to support a locally owned and operated store. But if they’re doing nothing to encourage me back except to bleat and moan about how they’re a little local battler who can’t afford such giveaways, then, as a consumer, I’m already assuming that they’re on their way out of business and I will tend not to be too keen on going there.
Getting known, getting found and staying known are the key items that any promotion or advertising medium have to fulfil to be of any use to your business. If a rep comes selling you a solution to one of those things, then take a long, hard look at whether you’re able to afford another two solutions for the other parts of the customer journey. Or, hold out until someone can answer all three parts of that journey in one package. After all, no one of those stages of the customer’s journey to you is going to be enough to keep your doors open for the long term.