If it’s a donut shop on Roosevelt, a plumber off El Camino, or a nail salon on Carlsbad Village Drive; online visibility combined with a digital word of mouth strategy can begin to shape your local small business virtual footprint.

Local consumers are the lifeblood of any small business; do you know what your customers are saying about your business through the many review and local search sites out there?

A happy customer is your greatest advertisement!

This isn’t a time to shy away from the difficult questions, local online visibility is often the primary concern for Carlsbad small business owners in today’s evolving social marketplace. Right after making sure the lights are on and the cash register is operating correctly, local online visibility needs to be addressed or your business will not survive.

In a very short time we’ll all be accessing the Internet more from our mobile phones than any other source, and we’ll be instantly sharing our shopping – and let’s hope buying – experience with not only our ever-growing list of virtual friends, but also our local communities, and the general world at large.

If your local business isn’t part of the conversation you’re not only missing out on new customers, you could be losing once loyal existing customers to the competition.

Establish a Plan

This doesn’t have to be intricate, overly expensive, or very difficult. But it will cost you time to effectively develop, execute, and integrate digital word of mouth strategies into your local Carlsbad small business marketing plan. The best place to start is at the beginning, with a plan.

Plan what it is you want to get out of your digital marketing efforts; is it more new customers, is it improved customer feedback, is it amplified digital word of mouth???

First you will need to establish an online identity for your local Carlsbad small business if you don’t already have one. This could mean a website, or it could mean a Facebook Business page. The bottom line is your need some place to send people who either searched for and found your business information online, or are already existing customers.

Consider this your online command and control center, you want to direct local customers to leave reviews in your chosen environment AND their chosen environment.

Some people rule die-hard Foursquare® fiefdoms, others align more with Angieslist®. You want to encourage and facilitate your customer to communicate their dWOM in as many places as possible, but be sure to use your online command and control center as the primary repository. That way you control it.

You need to provide this place to the local consumer AND you also need to transmit that business information to the most popular local search and review sites used in your area.

This will be your online business identity – a website, a blog, a Facebook Business page…a virtual representation of not only your business contact info but also your products, services, and digital word of mouth.

Execute

Once you have an established online identity for your local Carlsbad business you can then begin to execute your plan to elicit, capture, and locally broadcast your digital word of mouth.

For every single customer than enters your doors or secures your business for a job, you want to ask them for a digital review of your small business. Direct customers to your website or Facebook Page, or direct them to the growing list of local search review sites out there – or both.

  • Add a ‘tell a friend’ option to your website.
  • Start a weekly or monthly (or quarterly) newsletter.
  • Ask “Would you mind leaving us a review and help us build our business?”

Encourage feedback, and be ready for it. Remember, this isn’t a time for shying away from difficult questions. You should have already performed a serious look in the mirror as it relates to your business, as discussed in this past 1Local blog post.

Evolve

Be ready for change, it will come. An adaptive fluid strategy to collecting and syndicating local digital word of mouth will allow you to adjust to those changes and continually nurture your dWOM.

What happens to be the most popular local search site today in our immediate Carlsbad area may not be tomorrow.  The best way to determine success with your digital word of mouth is to track your efforts and continually monitor the environment on a regular basis.

When you notice a trend, embrace it. If you determine one method of review collection is wasteful, adjust your methods. Just be sure to continue your digital word of mouth marketing efforts at all costs. If you’re not noticing results, analyze the situation and identify the possible reasons, then take action to overcome the challenges.

As mentioned earlier, mobile access is growing and is predicted to shortly become our chosen method of choice when connecting to the Internet. You should already have a mobile app for your business or a mobile version of your website, you should be looking into how QR codes can help recruit new customers…and even up your Carlsbad business’ digital word of mouth!