When it comes to marketing, are you a sinner or a saint? Many local business owners handle their own marketing in an effort to save money. While the internet certainly makes it easy for people without a ton of experience to market their companies, a lack of knowledge can lead to mistakes that can have a significant impact on the return you get on your marketing investment.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the seven deadly sins of local marketing, and what you can do to avoid them.
Sin #1: Your website doesn’t list your phone number and email address on your home page
This first sin might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed by how many companies make this mistake. You need to make it easy for people to contact you. They shouldn’t have to search your website for your contact information. Put it front and center, and you will greatly increase the chances that the people who land on your site will reach out to you for more information if they need it. If you skip this step, you may end up losing visitors as a result.
Sin #2: You’re putting all your marketing eggs in one basket
Marketing can be a lot of work, especially if you have to keep up with multiple ads and services. However, a lot of small business owners make the mistake of sticking to one, relatively easy marketing technique and using it exclusively. For example, they may build up a following on Facebook and think they can get away with not using any other marketing methods.
Why is this a sin? Well, what happens if your audience leaves Facebook? It might seem unlikely that such a thing would happen, but it’s possible. Trends come and go. Websites that were popular yesterday are nonexistent today. You need to be thinking ahead and doing what you can to get the word out in more than one way. That doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time marketing, but it does mean that you need to diversify. In the example, I just gave, the person who’s using Facebook might decide to start a blog, build an email list, or even try to get an ad up on Google by bidding on a local keyword.
Sin #3: You haven’t claimed your social media pages
You don’t have to be active on every social media site out there – in fact, we’ll talk about that in a minute. What you do need to do, though, is to take a few minutes to claim your business name on all relevant sites and put up some basic information about your business. If a potential customer looks for you on Instagram, you want them to find accurate information including your address, telephone number, email contact information, and business hours. If you don’t claim your business, your leads could be looking at a page run by a stranger, someone who doesn’t have your best interests in mind.
Sin #4: You are overusing – or underusing – social media
There is no denying that social media is an important marketing tool for every local business. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use it. Sometimes business owners tell themselves that they don’t need social media. That’s a mistake because even your most loyal customers may like to have the opportunity to follow you on Facebook or Twitter.
On the flip side, some companies make the mistake of thinking that they need to be active on every social media site. The problem with this approach is that some social media sites are going to be more relevant to your business than others. For example, a company whose products cater almost exclusively to young men can probably afford not to be active on a site like Pinterest, whose users are mostly women.
A good rule of thumb is to find out where your customers are, either by creating a customer profile or polling your customers, and be active on the sites where they are most likely to spend their time. On the other sites, you can simply claim your page as mentioned above.
Sin #5: You’re not managing your reviews
Online reviews are hugely important for local businesses. Sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google make it easy for people who frequent your business to post reviews of it. Research shows that over 80% of all consumers rely on online reviews prior to making a purchase, yet many local business owners don’t do everything they can to ensure that their reviews are helping them.
The first thing you need to do is claim your business listing on all local review sites. Customers can leave reviews even if a business hasn’t created a listing, so if you haven’t checked, you may be surprised to see how many reviews you have. You should check your existing profile to make sure all relevant information, including your contact information, hours, and prices, are correct.
The second thing to do is come up with a system for responding to reviews. It’s a good idea to monitor your accounts. You can reply to positive reviews with a simple thank you, but negative reviews require a bit more finesse. The most successful responses are those that remain positive. Try to take the conversation offline if you can, and do whatever you need to do to resolve the situation.
Sin #6: You’re not staying true to your brand
Everything you do online reflects on your brand. If you have more than one person posting on your behalf, whether it’s on your blog, website, or social media, you need to have a clearly-defined strategy that ensures that everything related to your company reflects your brand. That means that your colors and fonts should reflect your logo. However, it also means that the tone of what you post needs to be true to your brand’s personality.
Creating a customer profile can help identify your core customers, and you can tailor your brand to them. Look at some big companies such as Red Bull and Rolls Royce to get an idea of what I mean by tone. Red Bull uses brash, hip language that reflects their brand and audience; while Rolls Royce uses elevated language that speaks to their core customers.
Sin #7: You’re not monitoring your company name
Your online reputation consists of more than the things that you post for your company. You also have to keep in mind things like reviews, social media mentions, and more. Many local business owners think that if they control the content they release, they’re doing everything they can to maintain a stellar reputation. That’s simply not true.
An easy fix for this solution is to use monitoring software like Trackur to keep an eye on what people are saying about your company. Positive statements and comments may not require much response, although it’s not a bad idea to chime in when you can. Negative statements and comments give you an opportunity to set the record straight. The bigger effort you make to track mentions of your company, the more likely it is that your reputation will be an accurate reflection of you and your brand.
These seven sins are not the only mistakes made by local companies when it comes to marketing, but they are potentially the most harmful. Fortunately, they are all easy to rectify. If you recognize any of these mistakes from your own marketing efforts, take the simple steps necessary to fix them – and be a marketing saint, not a sinner.