Choosing local marketing channels for your small business can feel a bit like visiting a franchise sub shop for the first time--you’re inundated with so many choices, and you have no idea what’s right for you!As a small business owner, you know that old-school tools like billboards, TV, or radio, still have their place in marketing. But if you’re working on a tighter budget, it can be tough to justify the expense of a continuing campaign via traditional channels.
Enter digital marketing.
Since the days of dial-up, the digital landscape has leveled the marketing playing field for many local service businesses, from real estate agents to landscapers.
As we move into 2019, four primary channels will bring the most value for your marketing dollar (in no particular order):
1: Google My Business
The Google game has changed a lot. For years, you could combine Google Adwords (now Google Ads) with a regular blog posting schedule to rank first for a term like, say, best roofing contractors in Memphis.
But Ads is much more expensive than it used to be. Plus, many more factors now go into determining where a site organically ranks in search.
To take advantage of Google as a powerful local marketing tool, whether you’re a pet sitter or a plumber, the most effective strategies focus on the search engine’s tools like Google My Business and Google Reviews.
When your potential customer searches for a local service, Google shows relevant ads as the top three or four listings.
Directly beneath, Google generates location-based map listings, which pin nearby businesses along with links to their sites and Google reviews. Google places a bit of weight on reviews, so the more positive feedback you earn, the higher you’ll appear in map results.
Because Google ties location and consumer reviews to rankings, the search engine impacts a user’s decision making. With one search, Google provides answers to two key consumer questions:
What are other people saying about that business?
Only after all those paid and location-based listings, do organic results appear.
2: Facebook & Instagram Ads
Facebook marketing used to rely heavily on organic posts that showed up in a fan’s feed. But posts’ organic reach has gone down considerably, making it harder to get your business in front of new people. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend time on organic posts; in fact, it’s a good way to show prospects you’re consistently providing quality service in your area.
Even though Facebook and Instagram are getting a little more pricey and a little more crowded, paid ads are still a good value for putting your business in front of new faces.
Facebook’s ad platform is very robust, so it’s fairly straightforward to find the right target audience and, for very little money, you can get lots of impressions that drive traffic to your site.
Set yourself apart with local advertising campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. (If you’re not familiar with ads on these platforms, find an example by looking in your personal feed for sponsored posts.)
With a small budget and good targeting you can buy that space and put your name in front of consumers so they remember your brand when it’s time to replace a roof, repair the gutters, or do whatever your specialty is.
If you haven’t dived into YouTube ads yet...don’t get scared!
Does it take a little more effort to produce video content?
Is it worth it?
YouTube ad placement has been quite effective, making it a good channel for a local brand to grab cost-effective local ad space.
And the good news is that consumers increasingly want more genuine videos in place of highly polished marketing content.
If you’re a roofer, for example, shoot a short video where you appear on-camera saying you just completed a roofing job in a specific neighborhood. Ask the customer you just worked with to share what their experience was like with your roofing company. It doesn’t need to be a long video, even 15 seconds of a genuine testimonial can yield engaging content.
Target the video on YouTube to the same area where you completed that customer’s roof. It’s a super affordable way to advertise; you may be able to get in front of a thousand people for as little as $10. That’s a lot of visibility for very little money.
4. Google Ads
Yes, Google Ads has gotten more expensive but it’s still an important player in local marketing, making it a channel worth your time.
For example, a roofing company can expect to pay as much as $7, $10, or even more per click. But if you have a good strategy and a good landing page to send them to, it gives you a very qualified click..
So is there one marketing channel that’s best for you?
The most effective digital strategy for most local businesses is usually one that combines several channels.
Identifying those go-to channels will help you connect with the right audiences so you can build a strong local brand name that consumers will remember when they need whatever it is you do best.