Online Marketing Methods for Local Businesses

If you run a local business, one of the keys to your success would be to fully optimise an online presence for your business so that potential customers can find it. This can be a tall order for those who are inexperienced or frightened of all things technical. It may also seem unimportant initially, especially if you are just starting out and have a million and one other things to think about. However, when you think of how much the internet is now used to search for local businesses, some form of online presence is a must. Obviously if you can afford it, you could find an experienced web designer who can work with you to find the best solutions for maximum profit potential. They will have all the knowledge needed to give your site the best chances of making money, but they also come at a price. For those of you who have just started to think about marketing your business online and want to try some advertising on your own, there are several proven methods out there. Don’t worry if you are inexperienced. Like all things that are new to us, at first it can seem a little overwhelming. But with a little patience and perseverance you will start to master all the tools necessary to start selling your products or services online. Below are a few suggestions on products or strategies you could use to advertise your local business.

Google Places: This is probably one of the easier methods to pursue initially and the best news is that it’s free and you don’t need a website. Google, like most of the other major search engines, has for the last few years been structuring certain search results around businesses local to the person performing the search. Displayed in these search results will be a Google Map with up to seven local businesses matching the search criteria. For example a person searching for Hairdressers in Maidstone could be shown search results which include a map of the Maidstone area with seven businesses marked on the map. If the person clicked on one of these markers they would be provided with all sorts of information on that particular business. This information could include address, telephone numbers, opening hours, products carried, pictures and even video. As stated previously, it’s free to advertise your business this way. Search for Google Places and signup. Then submit a listing for your business. The more information you provide the better chance you have of getting shown on Google Maps for free.

Pay Per Click or Google AdWords: Most people are familiar with Google AdWords and for good reason. Almost 90% of web searches in the UK are performed on the Google search engine site, which makes AdWords an excellent advertising method for small businesses looking to attract the most clients.

The principle of AdWords is to drive business to your site by using specific keywords that can pop up prominently on search engines. It’s like placing an advert on the internet rather than in your local paper. There is a charge by Google to use the AdWords service, but this can be controlled and shut off whenever you choose. You can set a budget each day on how much you wish to spend and terminate your advert when you see fit, so the total spend is governed by you.

Social Media: This involves using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to name but a few, to indirectly market your business. Initially this can be time consuming to get started but will hopefully reap benefits in the long term. The idea is to build a rapport with existing and potential clients, creating your own community.

For example a hairdresser might give weekly tips and advice on how someone can look after their hair, or a beautician may offer weekly makeup tips. You can respond to people’s questions or just join in with topics of conversation. Gradually using this method you will be seen as a person that can be trusted and an expert in your chosen field. As mentioned previously, this can seem time consuming but should be handled with good discipline and time management. This time and effort is what forms the attraction to existing and perspective clients. They will see someone who is willing to go that little bit further than other businesses in your field to build relationships which hopefully will pay dividends with your business.

Email Marketing: This is not spam mail, but the legitimate, acceptable way to market your business by contacting your customers and up-selling for a very low cost. In fact, a recent survey found that 75% of customers preferred to be contacted by permission-based emails, which means that getting promotional emails is something they want. You will want to research proven email texts that can hold the customer’s attention and bring in more profits to your business. And once you’ve decided on what to send, you will also need to track the results and apply the lessons learned to create more effective email.

Search Engine Optimization: Basically, you create your website with keywords in mind to maximize your website’s standing on search engines. You will need to research all the appropriate keywords and phrases to incorporate them into your site, which will place it prominently on search engines and maximize your visibility to the public.

These are just some of the many marketing methods and strategies currently available to local businesses. Some of them require more expertise than others and some are more costly. Hopefully this article will inspire you use some of these methods to advertise your business, or at least look into their viability. The path you choose will be dependent on your budget, time and experience but one thing you must do is claim some sort of online presence. Can you really afford to hand a powerful marketing advantage to your local competitors?

Cost of Starting a Home Based Business

When dealing with a new prospect looking to start a home based business, I know very quickly how serious they are based on their concern (or lack thereof) over the cost of getting started. The truth is there is nowhere else that I know where you can start a legitimate business for what it costs to get involved in a network marketing opportunity. Ever looked into starting a franchise business such as McDonald’s? You’ll pay over $10,000 just for the right to have a franchise, start up costs (building, equipment, etc.) will most likely cost upwards to $250,000, then you have your monthly overhead for food, labor and utilities. By comparison, a network marketing company’s startup cost shouldn’t be a major concern, just how good the opportunity itself is.

Start-up Costs

Most network marketing companies will offer those interested in starting a business several choices on how to get started, usually referred to as “start-up packages”. The lower package may be around a couple hundred dollars, while the upper is usually around a thousand. As packages get larger, you get more in return, as in more products to sample, more business building tools, etc. For the cost, I highly recommend you start with the highest package you can at the time, as the benefits you get, that will help you hit the ground running, are well worth the cost (which we’ve already established is minimal compared to traditional business start-up costs).

Monthly Overhead

When you become part of a network marketing opportunity you will be required to maintain a monthly shipment of products (usually around $75-$100). This is referred to as an “autoship,” because it is sent to you automatically each month. You will have the opportunity to customize your shipment each month to receive the products you want, and these can be used personally or resold at retail prices (you will be paying wholesale). The only other overhead you would have for your business will be if you choose to market it through ads, or the elect to purchase leads looking for a business opportunity. You totally control how much you spend on this type of activity and I recommend you keep it small until you are seeing a steady income from your business.

Tax Benefits

One of the things that many people don’t consider are the tax benefits associated with owning a home based business can be significant, and many economic advisers, like New York Times Best Selling Author Robert Kiyosaki, (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) highly recommend them. Your startup cost for the package you select will be tax deductible. You will be using your phone (both landline and cell) and the internet to build your business, which makes both of these costs now tax deductible. If you have the ability to set up a home office in a dedicated portion of your house (not a corner of your spare bedroom), the percentage of your house that the office occupies is tax deductible for that cost of your rent or mortgage and monthly utilities. Be sure to consult your tax attorney or CPA to make sure that you are taking legitimate deductions, but a home business can have very significant tax advantages.

Summary

While there are a number of things you should look for when selecting a network marketing opportunity to get involved with; management team, compensation plan, and quality products, the cost should be way down the list of considerations. The truth is, most people can pull together all the things sitting unused in their house, hold a one-day garage sale and put together the cost of getting started in a network marketing business at the highest costing package available. There simply isn’t another avenue for you to become the owner of a business at so minimal a cost that can make you serious income, give you the freedom to live your life on your terms, and be an asset that you can pass on to your children or grandchildren.