We’ve all heard of Facebook. We’ve all used Google. However, there are many ways to harness the immense popularity, visibility and practicality of these Internet powerhouses to the advantage of small local businesses.
For example, services and products are recommended by your customers to their friends using the social networking powers of Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and LinkedIn. This is in essence the phenomenon referred to as social marketing. And it has proven to be a highly effective method by which to get the word out on what your local business has to offer.
Where Art Thou?
How can customers find local businesses in the first place? That’s where the magic of search engines comes in. One-third of all Google searches include a location, meaning that people are searching the internet by zip code, town or state.
Stoneham-based Guiding Light Marketing can help local businesses take advantage of these great marketing tools without further delay.
“Let’s use pizza as an example,” said Angelika Paul, founder of Guiding Light Marketing. “Need a pizza in Stoneham, Mass.? You’re likely to search for ‘pizza near 02180.’ Google search then shows you all the local pizza businesses. Which listings are likely to get checked out most? Those on the first page of search results and those with a number of good reviews.
"Guiding Light will help you with both.”
The Perks of Google Places
Since local results are shown first, Google is affording many of its resources toward the Google Places page link, a specific page by which Google highlights those local results, where customers can click and have access to many additional details such as business contact information, reviews posted on review websites like Yelp!, Judy’s Book, YellowPages, Citysearch, and Merchant Circle, making it easy for local customers to find and learn about local businesses.
The Google Places page listing also links directly to Google Maps and all associated features, including directions, and the ability to send information to your phone or GPS.
None of this happens on its own, however. According to Paul, businesses have to claim their Google Places page. Guiding Light Marketing can do that for them, claiming and setting up their websites with Google, Yahoo, and Bing and thereby leverage these search engines’ preexisting tools to the businesses’ advantage.
Additionally, businesses can post updates and coupons on the Google Places page that can be printed or used on mobile devices.
“Once a business has claimed their Google Places page,” Paul said, “Something called a QR code can be scanned with any smart phone and can be linked to current offers and mobile coupons that show up directly on the phone.”
Ways Guiding Light Helps Its Customers
Guiding Light Marketing also ensures the presence of good reviews, collecting those already posted to the Internet, along with scanning and transcribing written reviews from print sources, and linking those reviews to the review sites. This helps increase the businesses’ visibility and positioning at the top of Internet searches.
Monthly statistics on how your listings were accessed, detailing number of impressions and number of actions such as clicks for more information, clicks to your website, and driving directions requests can be produced so businesses can have a better handle on how these tools are working to their benefit.
The Benefits of A Cell Phone-Driven World
Another innovative marketing tool that Guiding Light Marketing can establish for its clients is mobile marketing. This is a method that businesses can run various advertising campaigns on mobile devices. Sending SMS messages to customers via their mobile devices is a highly effective method to pass along special promotions, coupons, or marketing tools such as customer surveys.
“I once sent a short-term offer via SMS text,” Paul said. “It said that I was offering a coupon for the next two hours. More than 90 percent of text messages are immediately opened and read, unlike all the emails that get sent out these days.”
The potential for businesses to reach their target group is very promising. In many countries, more searches are now done on mobile devices than on the desktop and mobile web is rapidly becoming the primary way in which customers find businesses.
“I started Guiding Light Marketing in January after Google changed the way local businesses are shown in search results in November 2010,” Paul said. “Now local businesses can compete with the big fish by having honest reviews, a web presence, and being listed in directories with the correct information. With Guiding Light Marketing I want to help grow the local community and economy.”
For more information, visit the Guiding Light Marketing website.