Local Marketing for Small Businesses: Recession Edition

/ marketing
Jordan Parkes

Most financial and economic experts agree that we are in for a sizable recession. Some claim it will be as severe as the Great Depression, some claim that we can avoid the worst of it if we just organize well in advance.

Let’s focus on the latter. It certainly is a more optimistic stance, since setting yourself up to fail is probably the wrong approach to running a successful small business. So, we have established that the impending crisis is just another bump on the road, and that we need to plan around it.

What are some marketing strategies that small businesses should employ in order to stay relevant even during a recession? Keep in mind that these pointers are a great resource for any time, but in times of uncertainty, putting your best foot forward might be the difference between shutting down and thriving. Let's unpack the strategies laid out by digital marketing experts from San Diego, One Click Marketing.

1. Take The Best Of What Google Local Services Have To Offer

Whether you are a novice in running your business, or a seasoned veteran, you should not refuse a helping hand outright. Especially if that hand offers a ton of functionalities, more ways of being found by potential customers, and, best of all – it is free.

Google My Business profiles are fairly easy to set up, but have so much to offer to your business in terms of local discoverability.

Setting up a profile only requires basic information from you – your business name, address, phone number, and website info, and some images. Once you have all that set up, you need to wait for Google to verify your listing.

Once your listing is active, it will make your business much more accessible to people searching on Google in your area. Needless to say, Google Local Services are location-based, so be sure to have the listing set up correctly to your location.

During the pandemic, many businesses change their opening hours, so make sure that your GMB profile reflects reality. Business hours are easy to change on GMB, so you should take the time and provide accurate information – your customers will appreciate it.

And if your offices are currently closed, listing your business as temporarily closed on GMB will not affect your rankings in any way, according to Google. The rankings should not be impacted if your business is temporarily closed through no fault of your own. On the other hand, not listing your brick and mortar location as closed when it is may result in some penalties from Google.

2. Be Active In The Community

Probably one of the best ways to be noticed in your local area is to be involved in community events and organizations. That means that you need to seize any and every opportunity to help in the community.

A study conducted several years ago showed that a staggering percentage of people value social responsibility as one of the most important factors when choosing a company to work with.

A great way to get your name out there is to create or participate in some local events and support local charity organizations. The word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool that many are neglecting to use. However, if you are intending to dominate the local market, you need to think local and do things for your community and get recognized.

3. Write Your Content With Local In Mind

When you are generating content for your pages, make sure to have your audience in mind – what they care about, what specifically is important to them about your product or service. People like familiarity and feeling like you are speaking directly to them.

There are different methods you can employ when creating local-oriented content, like this suggestion from Moz. However, you should always keep in mind that your content needs to add some value to your customers and people who visit your website.

4. Social Media Is Not To Be Scoffed At

Many business owners are too busy or not tech-savvy enough to maintain an online presence on major social media platforms. However, not using this avenue is a mistake and a missed opportunity.

If done right, social media can get you a lot of exposure and revenue over time. The best part – it can be completely free, you don’t have to spend money on advertising on those platforms (although it may help).

However, in order to harness the power of social media, it’s not enough to simply have profiles on all platforms. You need to be present. Communicate with people who reach out to you and address their concerns and questions in a prompt and professional manner.

This is especially true if there is a complaint. Be sure to address these as quickly as possible and professionally, too. This will signal other potential customers that you can be relied on if there is a problem.

5. Paid Ads And ROI

If you aim to dominate the local area, you should use all the tools at your disposal – paid ads being one of them. Not only do ads have a bigger chance of actually converting, they can also be a vessel for improving brand awareness in the local community.

However, you need to keep in mind that paid ads, especially on a competitive platform such as Google or Facebook tend to be dominated by big national and supranational players. They can afford the cost per click that it takes to be shown on top of page 1, which is not always the case with local businesses.

At a certain point, the amount of money you spend on paid advertising may exceed the money you stand to earn. Consult your digital marketing agency to review your paid advertising strategy and whether it is actually worth the effort.

6. Go For Online Reviews And Local Directories

Cultivating a positive online image is paramount if you want to attract people to visit your website and business. During this crisis and social distancing orders which have closed down most business locations, an online presence is more important than ever.

That’s why you need to make sure that you have your listing on as many online directories as possible. Start with the big ones such as the aforementioned Google Local and Yelp. Getting people to leave you positive reviews on these platforms can do wonders for your business.

At the same time, you should not neglect the local directories which people in your area trust and rely on for information. It can be a local newspaper or a relevant blog that people in your community know and use.

7. Keep Investing In Local SEO

Even though having your local listings on as many platforms as possible is a good thing, that just might not be enough in 2020. Without SEO, and more specifically, local SEO, the chances of your business appearing on top of page 1 are greatly diminished.

Some researchers have shown that as many as 40% of all Google searches are local in character. That means that a person is looking for goods or services in their area, even if they do not specify it. In order to keep your business relevant and present in those searches, you will need local SEO.

During the pandemic, this percentage is likely to be higher – fewer people are likely to want to travel far to buy things and services, and will focus more on their local stores and service providers.

You could potentially choose to find a local SEO company with enough experience and skill to lead you to the top of the local searches and watch your business prosper.

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