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StyleData Blog covers broad topics of interest to Merchandising and Marketing Professionals, Fashionistas, Analysts and Number Crunchers.

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Entries in Marketing (1)


Easy, Free and Inexpensive Ways to Market Your Local Business or Organization - A Checklist

The bulletin board in a Starbucks in Palm Desert, and the results of a Google search for a car wash in Skokie, IL

When you own a local business, the to-do list is always long and the day seems too short!  In between serving customers, there is paperwork, organization, maintenance, personnel issues... and the need to make sure that you are continuing to find new customers.  Each business is different, as is each potential customer.  Sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zones to reach people in the way that they want to be found.  Here are some reminders:

1)  Have your 30-second commercial (or elevator speech) ready:  When someone asks what you do for a living, be prepared to explain it briefly and clearly.  Practice in front of a mirror, or with a friend. Make a video and upload it to YouTube.

2)  Ask for referrals:  When you know that you are providing a great product or service, remind your client that your business is based on referrals throughout the process.  At an appropriate time, ask if they can think of anyone in their network who may need your services.

3)  Introduce yourself:  While you are out living your life, never pass up the chance to meet someone new.  Take interest in them;  ask them what they do for a living, and about their life in general, and listen.  When they reciprocate, let them know about your business and how much you love it.

4)  Increase your visibility:  If you have done work that you are proud of, or if you spend a lot of time in your vehicle, put a sign on it.  Make sure the phone number is easy to read.  And yes, pin your business card on local community bulletin boards, like the one at Starbucks.

5)  Look for places where you can help:  I loved the story an interior designer told me about how she was in her local market and noticed that the glare coming in the window was interfering with the cashier's ability to see the screen.  She immediately set up an appointment with the manager to sell them new window treatments.

6)  Search for your business online:  Type in keyword searches for the products and services you provide. What are you finding?  Here are some tips on improving your online presence and search results:

  • Update your website:  Does your website convey the customer experience your company provides? Have you used the keywords that people may search for?  For example, if you have a nail salon, have you included the word "manicure" in your copy?  Have you listed all the cities and zip codes that are in your service area?
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly:  Does your website look good on your smart phone and tablet?  Is your phone number click-able on a smart phone?  If it is not, it is probably a graphic as opposed to a text image.  When you look at the map, is your business listed? If not, read on for how to get on the map!
  • Try Quick Response (QR) Codes on your printed materials:  You can generate a QR Code that will allow potential clients to connect directly to your company website from the smart phone they always have within reach.  Why wait for them to type in your url next time they are in front of a PC?  To the right is a QR code for the StyleData website, which we have printed on all of our materials, including our business cards.
  • Take control of your Google Places page: StyleData local listing on Google Maps with links to our website and Places Page.Go to Google Maps and search for your business.  If you have a physical location, you probably already have a Places Page.  Click on the pin on the map and "More Info" (circled in red on the right) to see your page.  You can also set up a Places Page for a business that does not have a physical location, for example, a plumbing company where the owner works out of his home and a truck. On your Places Page you can add links to your website, copy about your business, photos, your hours of operation and your contact information. If you don't find your business, you can learn more here.  The photo on the right is the result of a search for a merchandising consultant in Riverside, CA.  Yahoo and Bing have similar services.
  • Monitor customer reviews:  Find out what customers are saying on Google, Yelp, Facebook and Twitter.  If you see a negative review, try to contact the customer directly or write a thoughtful response, reaching out to the customer and offering to resolve the issue.  Once they are satisfied, ask them to take down the negative review or write a follow-up.  Also, you can claim your business listing on Yelp here.
  • Engage with Google Analytics: This is a free platform that will provide you with a treasure trove of information. To get started, you will need to login to Google and grab a snippet of code to be added to your website. Then, check back in a week and find out where your visitors are coming from and how they are finding you... see which websites are linked to your website and how much traffic they are driving your way. Also check out the keywords that are bringing visitors to your site, and make sure you are using those words in the copy you have written.  To the right is a screen shot of my Google Analytics account for California Blog.
  • Add your profile on LinkedIn: When someone searches your name in Google, you want to control what is seen.  Your LinkedIn profile will allow you to create a credible, professional presence on the web.  Connect with people and ask for recommendations from colleagues, clients or suppliers. Make sure to include a link to your company website and blog, and write descriptions that are rich with keywords that describe your talents.
  • Get inbound links to your website:  Add links on all of your social media channels.  Reach out to bloggers who focus on your subject and the local media when you have news to share, and request a link in the online version of the article, as well as that they list your url in the print edition.  Issue a free press release or start a blog.  You may find new clients through these links, and it will also improve your search engine rankings.  Get listed on by finding your category and suggesting your url.  
  • Submit your site to Google and other search engines:  Use the free search engine submission tools at AddMe and INeedHits.
  • Create Boards on Pinterest:  If your website has beautiful images on it, chances are people have already started pinning your images to their boards.  I can see how many people have pinned my Textile Blog images here.  To see your images, change my web address to yours in the url in the browser box.  To start pinning yourself, click here.

7) Test, Test, Test:  My final advice is when you start spending money on advertising, whether it be online, direct mail, newspaper or in other traditional media, design your campaigns so that you can measure their success.  Many marketing platforms, such as Google Adwords, will give you immediate feedback, but if you are spending big bucks on a billboard, it may be prudent, for example, to post a unique phone number so that you can count the number of calls and see how many prospects actually convert into customers.

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