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How to Increase Small Business Profits with Local Search and Social Media

 
After not so much feedback concerning our last post, we decided to do a super simple follow-up examination of how to profit from local Carlsbad small business social media efforts.

While we’re at it we’ll throw in some local search for good measure, the two actually go hand in hand toward taking your marketing digital.

It’s still pretty amazing how many retail establishments and small businesses out there have yet to take advantage of the social media marketing and local search opportunities out there in today’s digital (and increasingly mobile) world.

Local business owners are concerned with how neighborhood mom and pop stores can possibly compete with big box retailers…social media and local search are a good place to start that battle.

Take advantage; develop, nurture, and continually participate in your social local small business identity.

Return on Investment

Return on investment (ROI) is probably the number one calculation most small business owners need to be concerned with when figuring the bottom-line long-term success of their business.

Although calculating and analyzing ROI is sometimes more than confusing, defining that magic number is essential to get an idea of how your products and services are generating profit.

Generating increased profits (more new customers) should be the end goal of any local retail or small business marketing campaign. When it comes to social media for local small businesses, calculating that profit is relatively simple.

A few benchmarks can at the very least give you a clearer picture of how well your chosen marketing avenues are performing.

ROI = (Revenue – Investment) / Investment * 100

For example, let’s say you spent $200 on your monthly Pennysaver advertisement. And taking into consideration the fact that you have accurately tracked the response from that ad…let’s say you’ve grossed $2000 in revenue for the given time period (say one month):

ROI = (Revenue – Investment) / Investment * 100
ROI = (2000-200) / 200 * 100
ROI = 1800 / 200 * 100
ROI = 9 * 100
ROI = 900%

Not bad for a $200 investment…let’s just hope your real Pennysaver ad delivers similar numbers!

Now that we can calculate our success with our Results Oriented Information, how can we go about obtaining it with social media and local search?

Get Started

In order to profit from social media efforts and local search visibility, you first need to be part of the community. Don’t delay any longer; use this simple 3 Step Beginner’s Checklist to move forward with your social local marketing plan. We won’t force you to…but if you like the checklist, then please ‘Like’ us on Facebook and let us know!

By simply initiating social media profiles for your local small business and confirming (probably existing) local search profiles, you are immediately increasing local online visibility for your small business.

But be careful, that’s only the beginning. Now that your business is part of the social media and local search community, you need to take advantage of every single opportunity the media outlets and search engines make available to enhance your listing.

A user-friendly, concise environment inviting conversion from prospect to customer is the end goal.

The key to profiting from social media and local search efforts is controlling your online business identity with a well planned course of action.

The first step in doing so is to join the community – get started with your social media profiles and confirm your local search listings if you haven’t already.

Then be sure to populate your listings and profiles with photos, website links, video, coupons, promotional offers, customers reviews…lather, rinse, repeat for all local search environments and chosen social media outlets.

If you want to start profiting from social media and local search efforts, first you need to start planning for success. Launch your business into the social local stratosphere, then accurately track and calculate your return on investment.

What is your second biggest fear when it comes to local social digital and mobile marketing?

We’re sure the primary fear is losing money!
 

Carlsbad Retail Businesses Profiting With Social Media

 


 
Whether your business sells chicken wings, auto parts, mani-pedis, or antique gently used household chotskies; if you are not taking some advantage of social media tools for the retail business, you are losing out on money-making opportunity.

Facebook is not just for fresh air deprived, technically adept teenagers thumbing inane status updates to their gaggle of virtual friends.

Twitter is not just a place to broadcast your seemingly useless online text messages to the masses; it’s a way to sell what your customer’s experience buying and using your products or services 140 characters at a time.

These most popular social communities are not only online networking opportunities for your retail business; they are media outlets, de facto social search engines, news sources, public forums, and virtual gossip columns all in one.

You want your business to be found when people search online for similar products or services throughout their extensive personal network of friends or business associates within these most popular social networks.

You want your business to have an identity within these online communities when people start talking about products you sell and services your business provides.

Of course you want your existing customers talking good about your business – but in order to maximize that digital word of mouth, you first need to hear it.

If your business is not there when we use these media outlets to search locally for products or services that you offer, or hear about such, or talk about…where will we go?

Your retail business is part of the local offline community already; ignoring the local and social digital neighborhood is counterproductive to increasing profits, retaining existing customers, and recruiting more new customers.

Have you noticed most television commercials are pushing us toward the company or product Facebook page as opposed to a website?

How about a Facebook page, You Tube channel, Pinterest page, and Twitter profile?

Be There or Be Square

All of us people that religiously shop and buy local are already here, chatting away, searching, reading…gossiping.

There is no reason to try and make all of us leave the environment and lure us to a website so we can learn more or buy their product(s).

Just bring the products to where the people congregate.

OK, we exaggerated. Only 1 in 13 people on the entire planet are Facebook users…with the 35+ demographic representing 30% of the entire userbase. (Source: digitalbuzzblog.com)
 

 
What’s all the buzz about?

How can you recruit more local fans of your business?

Do your loyal existing customers follow your newest products or services?

Are you linked in to the latest trends in your industry?

Is it a good thing when a customer yelps in your store?

Can your Carlsbad retail business go from square to foursquared?

With those kind of statistics, a simple course of dead reckoning would immediately benefit any San Diego retail business – yes, any. By just having a local retail identity within the most popular online social communities in the world, you are more open to opportunity than you were with zero representation.

So, go to Facebook right now and begin your local retail social media journey.

“Don’t delay!”

“And that’s not all you get!”

“Wait…there’s more!”

“Hurry up and buy!” (oops, its free!)

“Do you know what the five fingers said to the face?”

Consider this your kick in the rear. Get your social identity in gear and start increasing your local retail sales!

If you have any questions, just ask – we’ve already asked most of the stupid ones ourselves already.
 

What’s Your Digital Marketing IQ?

 
We don’t mean how much you know about digital marketing, rather how much you know you know.

Get it?

Got it?

Good.

Now onto more pressing tweets about local sandwich crafters, and rifling through all those doggie photos!

OK, done. Let’s explore the digital marketing intelligence quotient of your Carlsbad small business. According to the ubiquitous Wikipedia, Digital marketing is the promoting of brands using all forms of digital advertising channels to reach consumers. This now includes Television, Radio, Internet, mobile, social media marketing and any other form of digital media.

Which Carlsbad digital marketing avenues are you using to promote your local retail business?

For those Carlsbad businesses out there that already use TV or radio as part of their retail marketing plan, they’ve most likely already integrated some forms of digital marketing into the mix. What’s a TV commercial without a Facebook and Twitter mention these days?

For the rest of us, we’ll concentrate on Internet, mobile, and social media as the main pillars of our local retail business digital marketing scheme. And we’ll look to identify value and return on investment as our major indicators of success.

But how do we measure that success?

First we need to understand the environment we will be using to communicate our products and services. Secondly, we need to set attainable goals for our retail digital marketing. Lastly, we must track the results and actively participate in the success of our digital marketing, or suffer the consequences.

Understanding the environment will up your digital intelligence IQ immediately.

  • How do local people use Facebook or Twitter to communicate?
  • Do they share buying experiences of local businesses?
  • If you ask people to share their consumer experience with your business, where could you direct them?
  • Would an increased knowledge of who your customers are, and why they choose your business allow you to better serve the surrounding community…sell more product or services?

Some easily attainable digital marketing goals for the average Carlsbad retail business could be:

  • Build a website. (Kill three birds and get a no cost mobile website app for your small business when you confirm your Bing Local listing here!)
  • Use e-commerce solutions to sell your products and services while you’re sleeping – or working.
  • Initiate a Facebook Business Page and Twitter account for your retail business.
  • Generate 100 (or 1000) Facebook ‘Likes’ and Twitter ‘Followers’ in the span of one year.
  • Connect your Facebook and Twitter profiles with your business website.
  • Start sending customers an email newsletter – you choose the frequency (monthly, bi-monthly, semi-annual…etc.).

When it comes to digital marketing for the average Carlsbad retail business, the research necessary to understand the environment, and the goal-setting needed to gauge success are the easy and fun parts of owning your digital identity. Tracking your results and actually participating in the success of your localized retail digital marketing is a bit more difficult. Don’t make the mistake of playing around on Facebook all day or waiting for Charlie Sheen’s next tweet. Devote time to all three pillars of your Carlsbad digital marketing plan.

Be sure to track your results and participate in your own local digital marketing success.

If we set goals for using social media and local search to acquire more new local customers, we need to know when we’ve achieved those goals. This means using such things as tracking codes, mobile downloads, referral codes, local phone numbers, or even handwritten notes in a marble notebook.

Whatever your DIY method is, make sure you know what you know about your digital marketing efforts.

We’ve also previously mentioned some low to no cost digital marketing tools to help you calculate success in this old blog post.

  • How many Facebook and Twitter connections resulted in actual feet in the door?
  • How often do your social connections interact with your business online?
  • Have you seen an increase in online visibility of your business across multiple online channels?
  • Did that press release result in any check-ins to your business Foursquare profile?
  • What is the value of your ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers’? (What are your goals for building a group of fans and followers?)

Here’s what eMarketer says about that last one:

How would you calculate the value of your local Facebook Fan?
 

Are You Still Advertising in the Pennysaver?

 
Is Pennysaver advertising dead?

We feel it should be for some small businesses after a recent review of a client’s ad performance over the past year. Sure maybe that front page ad space is worth something to someone somewhere, but is it worth the price of placing the actual ad?

Gone. Through. Finished. Kaput.

We were inspired to share this recent marketing epiphany after talking with one of our clients about their Pennysaver advertising performance over the past 12 months. As with any advertising, tracking return on investment often presents the biggest challenge. So, we started there with the client – trying to identify what the actual return on investment was from the given print campaign.

Let’s call the company XYZ Landscaping for the interest of this post – and if an actual XYZ Landscaping exists, rest assured we’re not talking about you and we apologize for any confusion…but hey, consider it free digital marketing!

When trying to identify ROI information for the XYZ Landscaping ad listing in the local Pennysaver, we were amazed at the cost involved with the advertisement. We couldn’t get past the staggering rate XYZ was paying for the local print exposure. The number of actual words amounted to all of 8, not including address and phone info. For those 8 words – and associated contact info – the ad cost the business owner $200 a week. Not a month, or a year – $200 a week, for a simple two-line, text only listing, buried somewhere between $.75 Elvis plates and free washer/dryer pickup. The ROI to date, according to the business owner, was exactly zero %.

In the span of a year XYZ Landscaping received exactly zero new customers from their Pennysaver advertisement. With the challenges of tracking and calculating ROI for the average small business owner being what they are, we’ll admit they surely could have missed a few here and there.

And while we’re at it, here’s a simple question to ask every new customer; “How did you hear about us?”

OK, back to the point. We feel there are many better advertising alternatives out there for the local neighborhood business than a zero point zero return on investment, and we communicated that to XYZ Landscaping. We recommended immediate expulsion for the Pennysaver ad, and double secret probation for the XYZ ad budget. A minimum of $9600/year for a Pennysaver Ad?

They’d be better served plying their trade with blinged out lawn mowers. Sure, we know the Pennysaver gets the free circulation numbers, but when was the last time you even opened the thing?

Ours goes from mailbox to recycle bin without even breaching the doorway, literally. At least the phone book is holding up some computer monitors, or offering our vertically challenged employees a more advantageous sight picture while driving. The Pennysaver lacks the bulk for such alterative application.

We’re happy to report that XYZ Landscaping eclipsed their Pennysaver ad performance within the first week of starting a Facebook page and initiating a few online local business listings. All for a heck of a lot less monthly financial investment.

An ad that is not performing well should be examined to ensure you are effectively communicating exactly what it is you are offering to the prospective customer.

  • Does your ad clearly communicate your business and/or products and services offered?
  • Is there a call to action?
  • Is your contact information clearly displayed?
  • Is the advertising medium chosen popular within your local community?

Let’s hear some more due diligence questions to share when it comes to small business local advertising. And tell us what you think of the Pennysaver as an effective advertising and marketing medium.

Not so legal disclaimer: We’re sure the Pennysaver is still an effective advertising medium for some local small businesses, in some areas. The abovementioned ad performance is for this particular business owner only…Results may vary…What you see now is happening now…

If you’re one of those local businesses, please share your story with us. Enquiring minds want to know!
 

Is Small Business Advertising in the Yellow Pages Still Worth It?

 
Yes, and we certainly recommend increasing your ad size to a double page spread to further increase your YP ad return on investment. Does that sound familiar?

Some business owners have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a local YP ad rep that pushed bigger is always better. A long-standing rule of thumb in phone book advertising is to look at your competition, then go one size bigger for your ad. Ipso facto, more local customers that found your business in the phone book!

Sometimes, and sometimes it’s a waste of time and money. How can you be sure?

You need to be sure, before you increase ad size or before you cancel the ad altogether. If you’ve tracked your YP ad performance since inception, this should be easy to determine.

First you need to design the ad content; text, copy, images, logos, calls to action…etc. This can be a significant investment, but one important to overall ad performance. It makes no sense to pay up to several thousand dollars a year to place a substandard ad. After you nail down the design, call to action, and benefit points, you then you need to buy the space in the particular phone book that is most popular in your area, and most often it makes sense to look at several books in your area. Some key things to think about are readership or circulation, and where your competition is represented within the particular publication.

This all sounds like a lot, and we know for sure that your local phone book ad rep can certainly help your business advertise in their book, from soup to nuts. They’ll design the ad, place it, give you online options, connect your website, and everything else involved with initiating a phone book ad for your small business – just ask them…

But that doesn’t answer the question of phone book advertising performance in the digital world. In our experience, having a phone book ad for your small business is a good thing – if only to confirm your important business information for the digital environments out there that are sure to become more popular in local searches for products and services. To be clear, this means maintaining at least a cursory listing of business name, address, and contact info (website, email, phone number) within one(or more) phone books in your local area.

Having this most basic phone book listing allows other internet-based search environments to confirm your actual place of business, contact info, and sometimes even products and services offered. In the digital world, these connections to your business info are citations – and the search engines love citations. Just like citing correct sources for your PhD dissertation research, your business citations give the search engines a place to confirm your business information. The more listings out there with correct, verified, and owner-controlled business information, the better for online small business visibility.

But guess what?

An offline phone book ad can be a great place for search engines and other online directories to confirm and connect with your local small business.

Here’s a list of 25 other online places to build your citations – in no particular order or rank. There are hundreds more, and we’re working on compiling a ranked list for you, check back soon and let us know if you have any suggestions:

  1. http://citysearch.com   
  2. http://cityvoter.com
  3. http://insiderpages.com
  4. http://localbiznow.com
  5. http://hotfrog.com
  6. http://merchantcircle.com
  7. http://angieslist.com
  8. http://yelp.com
  9. http://kudzu.com
  10. http://bbb.org
  11. http://superpages.com
  12. http://yellowpages.com
  13. http://local.yahoo.com
  14. http://dexknows.com
  15. http://judysbook.com
  16. http://showmelocal.com
  17. http://chamberofcommerce.com
  18. http://local.yodle.com
  19. http://switchboard.com
  20. http://magicyellow.com
  21. http://facebook.com
  22. http://twitter.com
  23. http://topix.com
  24. http://allpages.com
  25. http://manta.com

Just like with traditional search engine optimization, a slow and steady approach will serve you best when compiling citations for your small business. Don’t sit down with 196oz of coffee and expect to knock out 300 citation listings for your San Diego small business in one marathon session. Visit these sites and determine the relevance to your products, services, and location. Some will choose to list themselves everywhere and some will be more selective, and as rankings change we can begin to identify only the most advantageous connections by constantly monitoring the environment.

Besides that fact, some of these places cost money to list your business and some don’t. Then if you do list, be prepared for the sales calls that result from some of these sites. They’ll certainly invite you to spend a little bit of money for listing prominence, profile enhancement, connectivity, and overall return on investment – at least that’s the promise. Take your time, be selective, and learn more before you burn cash investing in something you don’t know how to maximize.

Also, be sure to check out this cool tool from our neighbors in the Great White North: http://www.whitespark.ca/local-citation-finder/#

And having a business listing with the large data aggregators like InfoUSA are good too – http://www.expressupdateusa.com/home.aspx