The beginning of a new year is a time to audit your small business efforts and regroup. So, you didn’t get that blog started like you planned? Now’s the time to follow through on resolutions to grow your small business.
Making your mark doesn’t have to consume all your time or budget. With a smart local marketing strategy, you can reach more customers and start seeing the results right away.
Ready to hit the ground running this year? Check out these simple ideas to amp up your marketing plan and boost sales.
1. Finally create a website
If you’re one of the last holdouts who still doesn’t have a website, what are you waiting for? Understand that consumers have changed, and many people don’t bother with stores they can’t research online.
No matter what type of business or solo venture you run, a website gives you more reach and credibility. Use your site as an online hub to tell your business story and keep customers up to date on your offerings.
2. Update your SEO keywords
Haven’t updated your website since you created it three years ago? Chances are, you’re missing out on popular search terms that are trending now. Start the new year with thorough keyword research to identify markets you may be missing.
And don’t forget the long-tail keywords. Many search queries are questions and longer phrases, such as “Boston photography studio for dogs and cats.”
You should also make sure your site and blog are optimized for local searches. “Hartford dog sitter” will likely bring more local traffic than “Connecticut pet sitter.”
3. Pursue fresh business partnerships
Get out there, and start building relationships with other local business owners. An active and unified business community is one of the most valuable tools at your disposal.
You all have a stake in the local economy and the power to share referrals. Make a list of local businesses with an overlapping audience, and reach out to pitch a few collaborative promotions.
4. Verify your Google listing
Google is at the center of all online search activity, so it’s wise to make sure your business is easy to find. Use the free Google My Business tool to grow your online presence and provide accurate info across the Web.
Businesses with verified listings are twice as likely to be seen as reputable, according to Google. You can also post photos, manage Google reviews and find out how people are searching for your business.
On average, businesses with photos get 35 percent more clicks to their websites. Imagine how much more sales you could generate from that extra traffic.
5. Offer your expertise for interviews
Local press are always looking for experts to quote or feature in their stories. Shorten their search for a topic authority by offering your expertise for future stories.
If you run a plowing business, locals will value your tips for staying safe on icy streets. People planning their own parties will love advice from a pro caterer on prepping food for event day. In return for sharing your wisdom, you get a high-quality plug from a reputable source.
6. Start a Facebook business page
Terrified of jumping into the social media arena? A Facebook business page is a good place to learn the ropes of social media marketing. Facebook is useful for studying customer segments and discovering which products and content are most interesting to them.
You have access to a hub of user-friendly tools for chatting with customers, targeting ads, and tracking engagement. You can also promote events or take bookings and orders, reeling in customers who prefer online communication.
7. Create community-focused guides
Put a community-oriented spin on content marketing to attract locals and seasonal visitors. A large portion of search activity is for location-specific services or activities. Tap into this audience with content that shows your knowledge of the area and investment in local commerce.
Try to come up with broad subjects and niche topics tailored to the area. For example:
- 5 Best Places to Grab a Morning Coffee in [City]
- Ultimate Guide to Entertainment on a Budget in [City/County]
- 10 Tips to Create the Best Booth at [Local Fair/Flea Market/Farmer’s Market]
Don’t be afraid to be more flexible and cover topics that don’t directly relate to your products. The goal is to spread awareness and give locals a reason to trust your business.
8. Repurpose your top content
If you already have a blog or social media presence, the new year is a great time to measure what’s working. Identify which content got the most visitors and shares, and repurpose it for another social media site.
Let’s say you wrote a blog series about choosing high-quality wood furniture. Pick out short ideas to turn into photo tips for Instagram and Twitter.
9. Send product samples to radio stations
Own a food-related business or cool lifestyle product? Give away a sample product to local radio stations courtesy of your business. Many stations will give an on-air shout-out to thank you. As you build a relationship, you may even gain opportunities to speak about your business during a broadcast.
10. Compile your online reviews
Collect your most recent positive reviews from sites such as Yelp, Google+, and TripAdvisor. The good things customers are saying about your business hold more influence than any ad.
Put a screenshot of the best reviews on Facebook, and if possible, tag the customer who wrote it. But don’t simply use it to boast about your business. Add a thank you or a few kind words to show customers you appreciate their time.
11. Showcase deals in your invoices
Most people start the new year on a positivity high after a season of holidays. Keep the mood going by sending promotions with your shipments and invoices. If you have customers that routinely shop at certain times of the year, create custom packages that fit their needs.
12. Design a brochure
Show loyal and prospective customers what you plan to offer in the coming months. An early brochure is a smart way to advertise what’s to come and get people in a buying mood in advance of your promotion.
This is especially useful if you sell products or services to other businesses. A new year means a new budget, after all. To spark interest, mention key trends shaping your industry.
Use the insights you gained in previous years to make 2018 the most successful of all. Local communities are happy to support businesses, but they need to know who you are and what you offer.
If you don’t already participate in Small Business Saturday, use this year to get your town or city involved. A thriving business community is beneficial to everyone. More importantly, being prepared for busy shopping seasons will make all your marketing campaigns more effective.
Whether you need a new website or a fresh set of business cards, our product suite will help you start the year off right. Learn more: Marketing 2018.