7 Ways To Promote Your Local Business Online (Without Spending a Lot of Money)
by Sharon Fling
Savvy business owners are catching on to the fact that the
local online market is booming. it’s predicted to be a $50
billion market by 2006. There is no doubt that the future of
the Internet is local - and if you don’t get your local
business into the act now, it may be too late.
Look at how the big boys are reaching out to consumers,
driving traffic to their local stores. Staples, Office
Depot, Wal-Mart - these guys are all going after the local
market in a big way. Why? Because they know that people
spend 80% of their income within 20 miles of home, and that
consumers are turning to the Internet to research products
and services before they buy.
Now, maybe you can’t compete with those deep pockets
financially, but it doesn’t take a million dollars to have a
successful web presence. Here are 7 easy ways to promote
your local business online, and they don’t cost a lot of
YOUR URL EVERYWHERE (you do have a website, don’t you?)
Any and every thing that may come in contact with a customer
should have your URL on it. Business cards, bags, flyers,
newspaper ads, your store window, free giveaways --as you
re-order your stationery and promotional items, just add
your URL. Simple and painless.
NETWORK WITH OTHER LOCAL BUSINESSES
One of the most powerful strategies for promoting your
business is to team up other business owners, especially
those who already have websites. You probably can learn a
lot from their experiences, and there are all sorts of ways
you can work together to benefit all. For example:
Link Exchange - each website can have a special page just
for links to other (non-competing) businesses, giving each
business a chance to pick up new customers at no cost. These
links should NOT be on your main page, unless you want your
visitors to click away the minute they hit your site.
Coupon Exchange - every week or two, each business owner can
send a special mailing to their list with coupons from all
of the businesses. Each business has a chance to get some
new business without spending a cent.
Local Guide - if there’s no local business guide in your
area, why not team up with some other business owners and
create your own? You may be able to find a web designer that
will go in on it with your group, just for the exposure and
the chance to sell his services to individual business
owners later. He could help promote the website in exchange
for referrals or the right to sell ads on the site later.
LOCAL BUSINESS GUIDES
Whether you’re selling a product or a service, local
business guides can be one of your best traffic generators.
People are increasingly turning to these local directories
to look for goods and services. Get your site listed in as
many local guides and directories as you can find. Some
charge for a listing, but many are free because they’re just
starting out and need to get listings. So get listed for
free while you still can. Many businesses are still not
taking advantage of this great source of traffic, so you
could easily be the only listing in your category. I’ve
heard more than once about consumers who patronized a
business because it was the ONLY listing in its category.
YouRb7;ve heard that "ItRb7;s not what you know but who you know."
Nowhere is this more true than on the Net. Whatever your
business or interests, there are others out there just like
you, networking and exchanging information. You might even
be able to find a local message board where you can meet
other business owners and prospects. Join in and share, and
you’ll find yourself getting customers and referrals without
ASK FOR REFERRALS
Here is an easy, but often overlooked source of new
business -- ask existing customers to tell their family and
friends about your excellent products and services. If
they’re happy with you, they’ll be glad to make referrals.
But don’t expect them to think of it - remind them. And make
it easy for them - put a tell-a-friend script on your
website, so they can do it while they’re thinking about it.
You may even want to offer some sort of reward - one local
business offers $25 worth of free dry cleaning when
customers refer 3 people who open an account.
This is a real no-brainer. Almost everyone has an email
address, and once you get it, the cost of staying in touch
with them is minimal. There are so many ways you can use
email marketing that a slew of books, software and
businesses have been developed to help you. But it all boils
down to persuading your customers and prospects to give you
their email address, then building trust through repeated
What could be better than free publicity for your business?
If you can find a public interest or news angle to tie into
your business, you should write a press release, including
website and email address so people can get more
information. Or your business can sponsor a local event or
volunteer resources to charity, giving your business (and
your website) valuable exposure while you give back to the
community. There are lots of free resources for creating
press releases, and entire websites devoted to helping you
get free publicity.
These are only a few of the many ways you can promote your
business locally. You never know how someone is going to
search for a business like yours, so you should use a
variety of methods to get your name out there where they can
Remember, the consumer is just a mouse click away from your
store - but only if you’re online. And with today’s
technology, the targeting capabilities and options are
unlimited....even if your bank balance isn’t.
Sharon Fling is the author of "How To Promote Your Local Business
On the Internet", and publisher of "Local Business Today", an
ezine that gives business owners tips, tools and resources for
targeting local customers. Subscribe today and get a free
re-brandible ebook on local marketing. Send any email to:
email@example.com or visit www.geolocal.com
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