Local business marketing often requires resourceful thinking on a small budget. The grandiose PR stunts, expensive ad campaigns and creative videography often have to be left as pipe dreams until the company has been grown by using more budgeted marketing tactics. This article will reveal how to drive attention to your local business on a budget.
To make it clear this article is not presenting a one-stop shop marketing guide for all local businesses but rather an inspiration to the sort of techniques that could be used for your business. The marketing techniques that would suit a local law firm, will differ to the marketing strategy needed for a local restaurant.
Search Engine Optimization | Being Found Naturally In Search Engines
Search engine optimization( SEO) involves making sure your website has visibility on search engines ( does not include non-paid ads). For example, if you were a local law firm, you would receive extremely relevant traffic if you ranked on the first page of results for keywords like “ solicitors Edinburgh” or “ family lawyers Edinburgh”.
The Advantages Of Search Engine Optimization
- Traffic is free ( however SEO work still costs)
- Highly relevant traffic as visitors to your website have been actively searching for your products or services
- A long-term strategy that can stream traffic to your site for years to come ( if you stick to Google guidelines)
The Disadvantages of SEO
- Ranking new sites is a long process and in competitive local niches, it can sometimes take over a year to see strong results.
- There is a myth that SEO is free and by doing on page SEO basics and writing a bit of content, your site will rank well. Unfortunately, in any competitive niche link building, guest posting and time-consuming content creation is needed. This all costs time and money
- Over 50% of traffic on Google is from tablet and mobiles. Mobile results mean more scrolling is required by the user to reach the organic results. The user first has to scroll 4 ads and then past the map pack results. Some experts believe that SEO is not as valuable as it once was. However many users never click on Google ads and still see them as “spammy”.
Do You Need to Hire an SEO Expert or Can You Learn SEO yourself?
The good news is you can definitely learn SEO yourself and on-page SEO, writing quality content about your business and having a user-friendly site is well within the capabilities of most local business owners. However, if you have an eCommerce store or a more complex website you might need the help of a technical SEO or developer to correct issues like duplicate content, query string parameters or broken pages.
To rank in competitive niches you will need to invest some time and money in link building. Backlinks are still one of the most important ranking factors in SEO. A backlink is when an external website hyperlinks to yours and if this is from a relevant site with real traffic, the backlink is counted as a vote from Google. An alternative to learning SEO yourself would be to use an SEO freelancer like myself, Struan Baird SEO. No apologies for the shameless self-promotion. SEO Freelancers tend to have lower prices than digital agencies and a more personal relationship with their clients.
Social Media | Creating a Local Buzz
Social media is a great way to get creative and really draw some attention for free with the local market. For local B to C businesses like restaurants, tradesmen, beauty salons, hotels and bars the power of imagery, social reputation and being an embedded part of the community can all be amplified by using social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. From a business to business perspective these channels can still be useful but LinkedIn will be the main resource for connecting and being seen by relevant prospects.
How to Create a Buzz on Social Media B2C
- High-quality images and videos on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
- Have seasonal and topical posts
- A Like and Share give away competition. For example, a local restaurant could run a Like and Share competition and give away a free meal and bottle of wine to the winner. To reach a wide local audience a Facebook Ad could be set up, geo-targeting the surrounding area. This would increase the restaurant’s popularity and grow its social media following.
- Being seen at local events and broadcast the businesses appearance on your social channels. For example attend local fairs, charity events and other popular local businesses.
- Use tools like HootSuite, mass planner and linked helper to automate social media posting and follow relevant profiles in your niche.
Unlike SEO where it might be wise to hire an SEO consultant because of time constraints and complexities, social media channels should be run by you or a member of your team. Logistically and cost wise it makes sense. It is easy for a local business owner to quickly take a photo or video of interesting business activities throughout the day and no one can present the brand personality of your business better than yourself.
Google Ads | Get Leads Quick
Suggesting Google ads in an article about marketing on a budget may seem a bit of a contradiction. Although there is an initial spend on Google ads, they can generate leads as soon as the campaign is live. Start-up businesses and local businesses in general often need a quick injection of sales and a Google ad campaign can be the perfect channel to provide this.
The cost of a Google ad campaign really depends on the competitiveness of the keywords you are targeting and the geographical area you are covering. The cost per click for Glasgow lawyer based keywords sits around £4-£6 per click ( except for personal injury terms which are above £20). It may seem very expensive to pay £5 for someone to click on your ad and visit your site but for high-value services, such as lawyers provide, this is actually a great bang for your buck.
For example, if a family lawyer based in Glasgow spends £500 a week on Google ads and receives 50 clicks to their site if 20% of these visitors call or inquire online that is 10 leads (20% conversion rate is more than possible for law firms). If 50% of these leads are converted that is 5 new customers. On average family law firms make at least £1000 in fees per client. Thus within one week, a £500 ad spend has accumulated at least £5000 in sales.
Advantages of Google Ads
- Instant results and revenue
- Great tracking and analytics options to understand and spend and results
- You only pay if someone clicks on your ad and visits your site
- If the ads are set up correctly only highly relevant customers looking for your service will visit your site.
Disadvantages To Google AdWords
- If you have no budget Google ads will not be an option
- If the ads are not set up well and targeting is off, you could lose a lot of money
- Google ads take a fair bit of knowledge to run successfully. You need to understand the AdWords structure, perform keyword research, set up conversion tracking and understand Google analytics.
- Google ads work a lot better if you are selling a high-value service or product. Remember you need to recoup the ad costs.
Could you learn Google AdWords and set up the campaign yourself? Yes absolutely, there are plenty of free courses on YouTube and cheap courses to buy on websites like Udemy.
However, it depends if you have time to learn AdWords correctly. There are plenty of agencies and freelance experts that could run your AdWords campaign to a very high level. Small local campaign agencies and freelancers should not be charging more than £200 a month management fee. Both running the ads yourself and hiring an expert are viable options, it really depends on your budget and time.
Running a local business successfully is no easy task and in terms of marketing it will take a lot of investment, either in your own time or paying a specialist. Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas for further research and thought.