As a business owner, you know that marketing is a guessing game. You can spend a ton of time and effort on a campaign only to have it fall short of your expectations. In fact, there’s a marketing theory called the Pareto Principle that says that 80% of your results will arise from only 20% of your efforts. In real terms, that means that the majority of what you do won’t earn you any return on your investment – at least not at first.

The key to marketing a local business is to keep trying. Here are some proven strategies that you can implement today that can help you attract new customers and grow your business.

  1. Check and correct your online listings. This strategy is very simple, and yet many local business owners overlook it because they don’t understand how essential it is in helping them build their online reputation. Your company’s name, address, and phone number – sometimes referred to as a NAP listing – must be consistent everywhere it appears online. If it isn’t, it may dilute your online presence and lead to confusion. Even small differences, such as using Ave instead of Avenue in your address, can make a difference. Here are some of the places to check:
    1. Your website
    2. Google My Business (Google+)
    3. Your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)
    4. Crowd review sites (Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.)
    5. Industry guides and references
    6. Online yellow pages and directories
  2. Write a local guide and find a way to link it to your company. No matter where you are located, there are things that are unique about your area. Perhaps you own a store that sells bicycles and biking supplies. You might write a guide about the five best biking trails in your area and make it available online. Related ideas might include a list of the best picnic spots or free events within biking distance of your store. The idea is to provide value to your customers that they will then associate with you – and your business.
  3. Use Twitter to inform and engage your customers. The important thing to remember when using any social media site is that you must be social first. Instead of bombarding your Twitter followers with sales pitches, simply share information that you feel will be relevant to your customers. For example, you might share articles relevant to your industry, local news, or information about local events. The more informative you are, the more likely it is that your followers will be receptive when you decide to Tweet about a sale or promotion.
  4. Use retargeting to solicit customer reviews. You already know that customer reviews are essential to your success, but did you know that close to 90% of all consumers say that they check online reviews prior to visiting a local business? One way to ensure that your customers leave reviews is to remind them after they make a purchase. If you have an online store, you can embed a code on your sales page to retarget customers with an ad that says something like this: Enjoying your purchase? Please leave us a review at the site of your choice: Yelp, Google+, or Angie’s List. You can include any review sites you want to include. The fact is that you may have many satisfied customers who simply have forgotten to leave you a review. Retargeting is a low-key way of reminding them.
  5. Offer exclusive social media promotions. This is a great way to build your Facebook and Pinterest followers. No customer is going to follow their favorite brand on social media if all they’re going to get is a rehash of what they can find on your website – or on other social media pages. You have to give them something special, and one thing that can help to build customer loyalty and appreciation is handing out special deals and incentives. You might consider hosting a special preview event before a big sale, and making it exclusive to your Facebook followers – or offering a few special items for sale by featuring them on a Pinterest board. Whatever you do, make sure that your followers know that you are providing them with something unique because you value them.
  6. Try using third person ad copy. A quick glance at Google will tell you that most companies use the first person when writing ads. However, it may be more effective to use a third party quote about your business if you want to attract customers. If you use a line from a customer testimonial or review as the headline in your ad, you’ll be combining social proof – an essential element of online marketing – with your marketing. Given the importance of customer reviews, it’s easy to see how this particular strategy could help increase your click-through rates – and your sales. You may already have a great review or testimonial in mind, and if you do, you can get that ad up and running today.
  7. Add the Facebook “Call Now” button to your mobile advertising. As of 2015, more searches were conducted on mobile devices than on computers, so you can’t afford to neglect mobile advertising. Facebook advertising is versatile and affordable. If you want to target local customers on social media, one of the best ways to do it is to advertise on Facebook, specifying that you want your ad to be displayed to mobile users in your geographical area.  You can then select the “Call Now” button when choosing a call to action. The button allows mobile users to call your business by touching the button, instead of having to remember or write down the number to call later. It’s a way of simplifying the process and making it easy for people in your area to call you.

The Takeaway

These seven strategies are all easy to implement – in fact, you can do them all today! Some may take a while to show results, but the sooner you start, the sooner you can start to reap the benefits of targeting your online marketing.