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“I don’t need a website, I’m a local business.”

Yes, I have to admit, I sat there gasping as he uttered those words. But I calmly pulled my chin back off the ground, and proceeded to ask him a few more questions.

Me: How do you currently get your clients?

Him: Mainly through referrals, I’ve been in business 15 years.

Me: Do you have all the business you can handle?

Him: No, not at all. In fact I had to let one of my guys go. I really would like to start bringing in several more people a month.

Me: How have you changed your marketing since your business leveled off and started decreasing?

Him: silence

Marketing the way you’ve always marketed before will get you what you’ve always received. Or in many cases, you will actually start seeing a decrease.

Why? Because marketing today isn’t the same as it was a few years ago.

People paid attention to more traditional marketing methods in the past. But in 2008, a perfect storm happened.

The economy fell, which made most people more aware of where their money was going.

Access to the Internet also drastically increased as smart technology grew. With more people having smart phones and tablets, it put the power of shopping at everyone’s fingertips. Everyone became savvy at finding the best value in whatever they chose to buy.

Which means as business owners, we have to be savvier at how we approach future clients.How To Get Online Results For A Local Business

People search online for just about everything they buy. And if you aren’t there, they won’t find you. But they will find your competition. And do business with them too.

So being online is no longer an option. If you aren’t there, you won’t find business in the way most savvy consumers are now looking for their next purchase.

Having a website is mandatory. But once you have a great site in place, what’s next? How do you find local customers  shopping for you? Here’s how to get started.

Get Listed On Local Search Directories

You can’t put up a website and expect them to come. You have to direct people to your site. And one of the best ways to get started is by inserting your business in local search directories.

There are many search directories online; not all are meant for every business. You wouldn’t want to list your auto detailing business on a counseling service directory. You want to be where your potential customers are most likely to look for you.

Some of the most well known local business directories are:

Google
Yahoo Local
Bing Local
Yelp
MerchantCircle
Yellow Pages
Citysearch
Angie’s List
Zagat

You can also use a tool like Whitespark to find more local search directories in your area and niche.

Substance Not Quantity

When finding places to list your business, remember substance over quantity. Its not a race to see how many places you can get into. Instead it’s about building a reputation in the places your potential customers will most likely look for you.

When you build up a profile and a presence in directory sites, start asking for reviews as well. Most sites have button, badges or widgets that you can use on your site, and use them to ask your current customers for reviews. Remind people on your invoices and other marketing materials that you work off of referrals, and the best way to refer you is to leave a review. The easier you make the process, the more potential reviews you will receive.

Also, remember another great way to leave trails to what you do is to get active on social sites. If your customer base loves Facebook, consider setting up a profile and communicating with your customers there. You don’t have to be dry and boring; spice things up. With a little searching you can find examples and ideas all over.

Test, Analyze and Retry

With traditional marketing, one shot is often all you get. If your phone number is listed incorrectly in a phone book, for example, your business loses potential until the next printing.

Not so with online marketing. You can test and retry things all the time. Start by analyzing what is working on your site. Use things like Google Analytics to discover what your customers click on, where they spend their time, and where the majority of your traffic is coming from. If they love yelp, spend your time developing more content on yelp.

Remember, the online world is consistently growing, building and changing. Start playing now, learn along the way, and you’ll see results over time.


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