Small businesses thrive in the local markets, and there are numerous opportunities for them online. However, they are always under the shadow of major corporations, both locally and online. They mostly go unnoticed by the majority of potential customers. However, this is because most small businesses don’t do enough to stand out and get noticed.
Your small business doesn’t need Amazon’s resources to get noticed. Here are seven affordable and practical tips to make your small business more visible locally and online.
1. Embrace Branding
Major corporations have distinct brands that are noticeable anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, small businesses don’t see the need for branding. This is their biggest and most common mistake.
Your business’s brand is its identity. It helps your customers (and the general target audience) relate to your business. If your brand stands out, it will be the first thing that comes to mind when they are looking for your products locally. For example, Starbucks comes to most people’s minds when they think about coffee.
As such, develop a brand for your small business. Make it relatable and likable. Most importantly, make it visible through tools like banners and local advertisements. It will definitely make you stand out locally, and it will give you a distinct identity in the vast world of online commerce.
2. Put a Face to the Business
Most people don’t trust major corporations because they are suspicious of their intentions. They view them as faceless operators manipulating the world to make billions or trillions in profits. How much danger can your small business pose compared to these global influencers? Your customers could easily trust your brand, but they need to see that it is human.
Putting a face behind the brand is the best and easiest way to nurture their trust. You are operating in a small, close-knit local market, and putting a face on the brand will make people feel that you are a part of the community.
3. Buy Local Ad Space
Ads are the best way to get the attention of many people at once. Buying local ads will make your brand more visible to locals. These advertisements should be placed in places with the highest local traffic, ideally. Good ideas for local ad spaces include banners, billboards, public transport (buses and taxis), and more.
You can also buy Google ads on platforms that experience local traffic. For example, your Facebook and Instagram ads can be targeted to local pages, groups, and users. You can also get Google ads for local online markets.
Your ads’ success will be tied to your brand. They will essentially be ineffective if your audience doesn’t relate to the brand.
4. Attend Local Events
Local events offer ideal opportunities for businesses to network with potential customers and partners. Locals attend these events to socialize, explore, and shop. Businesses attend these local events to sell and, most importantly, make themselves seen. As such, don’t let local events such as conferences and trade fares go to waste.
5. Engage Your Audience on Social Media
People interact more online via social media than they do physically. In fact, many millennials will spend most of their time chatting while in each other’s company. This is what makes social media such a prime space for online marketing.
Your small business should have pages for every popular social media site platform, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. Let your pages reflect your brand, and make them a communication portal to interact with your audience. Post regular updates to let your audience know what is new, and encourage your audience to share their ideas.
Marketing on social media is easier said than done. It takes a lot of time to create and upload posts, for starters, not to mention interacting with your audience. It also takes exceptional creativity to create posts that will appeal to your audience. Most importantly, it takes skills to attract leads and channel organic traffic to your sites. To this end, it is recommendable to hire professional online marketers.
6. Encourage Your Customers to Leave Reviews
A customer’s word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. It is inspired by their personal experience shopping at your store. It is also powerful because people trust another person’s honest opinion over the scripted marketing messages.
Customers’ reviews are a form of word of mouth marketing. Customers often give their opinion on businesses’ quality of services by leaving reviews on online platforms such as Yelp and social media. For example, many people visit Trip Advisor to read customers’ reviews when choosing hotels. Additionally, many people trust Yelp to determine a business’s quality of products and services.
Encourage your loyal customers to leave honest (and preferably positive) reviews about your business – give your customers a reason to leave honest reviews. This will give your brand more exposure to people who frequent these review sites. It will also help win potential customers’ trust.
7. Build a Robust Website
There are more opportunities online than there are in your local market. In fact, e-commerce is taking over shopping, as it is worth more than $3.5 trillion today and is expected to grow to $6.5 trillion by 2022.
One of the best things about e-commerce is that there are few entry barriers – essentially, anyone can start selling online as long as they have a website. Your website will make your brand discoverable to anyone searching for your products or services online, which accounts for millions of people. It will also expand your market, as you can start fulfilling long-distance orders – this will be a huge step in your growth into the big leagues.
However, simply having a website is not enough to operate and compete online. You will be competing against millions of other websites, and most of the internet users will only visit the first few websites at the top of their search engine results pages. As such, hire a professional web designer and online marketing company to push you to the top of Google search results.
Getting your small business noticed is the first step towards growth and expansion. These tips will get your business noticed without costing you a fortune.
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