By John Eberhard
Whenever a new prospect comes to me, the first thing that I try to do is understand their business and then figure out a marketing strategy, or which of the various marketing actions would be best for them. I don’t believe in a “one size fits all” approach and I have never seen this approach work. I think you have to approach each business individually and see how that fits with each of the marketing techniques.
Local, Regional, National
Whether a business is local in nature (i.e. a restaurant, health care practice, home improvement company) or regional or national (servicing people in a large region or in the whole country) makes a big difference in which online marketing techniques will work for you.
So let’s take a look at the various marketing techniques and how to evaluate what is best for your business.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Regular SEO is international in nature. You will be competing with other companies worldwide for keywords.
- Takes 6-12 months or more to bear fruit. I have gotten the best results for clients that just continue to do SEO and link building on a continual basis.
- In competitive markets and for competitive keywords it can be time consuming to get to the point of ranking well
- Once you rank well, maintaining that is easier and less expensive
- Link building is a vital element of SEO.
This is where you do SEO but concentrate on keywords that contain city or town names in them.
- Easier to get to the point of ranking well for local oriented keywords
One caution with local SEO, which is that there are guys out there pitching that they can get you to rank on page one of Google for keywords related to your industry that include your city names. The problem is that I have seen in several instances, these guys didn’t say anything to the client about how many people were actually searching for those keywords. And I can tell you that many of these city name keywords get little to no search traffic. The result is maybe you’re on page one of Google for that keyword now, but if no one searches for it, it won’t do you any good. The moral is to ask in all cases what the search traffic is for all the keywords being discussed.
Google My Business
- Practically a necessity for local oriented businesses
- There is a whole procedure to get your listing online and push it up to page one of Google results
- Some industries are very competitive (like dentists) and each city has a hundred or more listings. So getting on page one is not a slam dunk and takes time and work. If your industry doesn’t have a lot of listings up there, you can get to page one relatively quickly, but if there is a lot of competition, figure 4-6 months or more of work.
- There are other sites one should put up a listing on as well, such as Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yelp, Insider Pages, Hotfrog and others. This helps push your Google My Business listing up.
- Getting positive online reviews is important in pushing up your listing.
Social Media Marketing
- Can target a local area or region with social media marketing
- Can target specific industries
- The main challenge is developing a large list of friends, followers or connections
- Used to be inexpensive, more expensive now to develop large lists of connections
- Great for companies that have frequent events, products to showcase, pictures of products or services or events, or videos on YoutTube
- You have to develop an effective strategy of what type of messages to send out
Pay Per Click Advertising
- Puts you in more control of how your listing appears, where it appears and how soon
- Can target any geographical area, from national down to small towns
- Great for developing a consistent flow of leads
- More expensive
- Only viable for high ticket items (say items selling for over $200)
Pay per click advertising has gotten a bit of a bad rap lately and it seems some people have gotten a bad taste in their mouth from it. I think this is due to the fact that more and more businesses have gotten involved in it and thus there is more competition, which has driven the bids up to non-viable levels in some industries. Pay per click is still quite viable in many cases, but it is more important than ever to have a knowledgeable person manage the account, and to track both email and phone call responses.
- Important for services or products that are very visual in nature, or where some explanation is needed to sell it
- Relatively expensive to have done for you, or time consuming if you do it yourself (assuming you do a professional job of it)
- Great for personalizing your company
- Programs to get your video to rank well on Google are typically not effective anymore
- Great if you can build up a sizable in-house list of prospects and customers
- Also great if you can find email lists where you actually take possession of the list and can mail to it repeatedly without having to pay a rental fee each time
- Email newsletters work great
- No matter what, don’t rely only on email for your marketing. There are too many things stopping your message from getting through these days, including typical open rates of only 8-12%.
- Do not pay to rent email lists
- Drives traffic if you post 2-4 times per month
- Can’t really target people locally. You’ll be getting readers from all over.
- Put links in the sidebar to the stuff you’re selling
- Make sure to send a notification (called a ping) out to blog search engines after each post. WordPress blogs do this automatically.
- Can be very appropriate and effective for a wide variety of businesses
- Very trackable in terms of results
- Postcards are relatively inexpensive to print
Good luck with choosing your marketing strategy.