Five Ways to Find Local Customers on the World Wide Web

Today's guest post is from Dana Flannery from Talk About Creative, helping us with marketing a local busness


So, you're a local business. That means your marketing is mostly about stuffing pamphlets in letterboxes and putting a note in the school newsletter, right?  Beyond the IGA notice board and word of mouth down at the dog park reaching new customers is one of the biggest challenges of a local business – and reaching them online may seem impossible!  So, how do you do it?  Clever, local online marketing! 


Using QR Codes

QR Codes allow local folk to quickly scan and keep your web details.  You can get your QR code printed onto magnets very cheaply.   Do you have a local kids' business?  Stick your magnets on park benches near playgrounds, where mums sit for hours, with nothing to do but play with their smart phone.  Direct them to a "local only" offer on your website.  Ask local shops to display your QR code in store, with a promotional call to action – offer them an incentive such as a web link or Facebook shout out for every customer directed to your site.  Strengthening relationships in your local community is never a bad idea, and this is a great ice-breaker.


Advertise Local

Whether you use Adsense or you just want to get a few cheap and cheerful banner ads, buy ads on pages featuring local suburb names.  If, for example, you sell a product that will appeal to young families, an ad on a local real estate site will help you reach the right people, even if they're not specifically looking for your product.  Sites that have suburb specific information may take very cheap advertising on those pages too.


You should also be sure to add your web details to credible directories like Hot Frog and True Local. Keep your address and phone number format exactly the same for all (no spaces, exact address etc) as Google uses these directories to verify entries in its Google Places database.


To find other local advertising ideas, Google this:


Suburb Name +"directory"
Suburb Name +"add your link"
Suburb Name +"business directory"
Suburb Name +"advertise with us"


Using the + and " symbols helps you to find specific text on pages that cover your suburb.  You can also do this for your city, your business niche, your customers and whatever other creative combinations you can dream up.  Be careful though, adding your link to too many low quality directories can do your website harm in search results.


Social Networking

These days it's hard to come from a place that doesn't have its own local business networking page. Search all the suburbs and population hubs near by, hook up with business networks, local businesses and local organisations.  Approach them to run cross promotions and joint competitions so that all local businesses can share all of their local fans.


Use Facebook questions to get local businesses involved in, and sharing your page.  For example, ask the question:  "Who has the greatest customer service in St Kilda?" and allow likers to add their own tags.  This will alert other local businesses and prompt them to share with their likers so they can have their votes.


Once you've made a few contacts, create a local business group on Facebook.  This is like your own little chamber of commerce and a place to get to know each other, exchange ideas and cross promote. Groups are a great way to build relationships privately.


Be creative.  Find creative ways to get other businesses involved in your own online.  Share their victories and their news – it's not only relevant to your likers, it's also good karma for when you want your victories shared!

Google Plus Local

Creating a Google Plus Local account is the way to get your business on that map that shows up in search results.  Do a few searches, check out which relevant keywords trigger that map to display and then optimise your Google Plus business page to match (obviously, you’ll need a Google Plus account first).  With only ten advertised places on each map, it can get very competitive.  The new scoring system is based on testimonials, and you’ll need at least ten to get a score allocated to your page.  So, it’s time to ask your clients to start raving about you!  There are some best practice ways to optimise Google Places so follow all the rules to the letter! 


Local SEO

OK, here's the big one.  Local SEO is about micro-SEO.  It's the opposite of big business that pays squillions of dollars per month to reach gazillions of people.  It's about setting your website up correctly so you are the only one trying to reach a handful of people.  You may only get ten searches per month for what you do in your local area, but you'll be the only search result that fits their enquiry perfectly – so you're the only choice!


Tomorrow's post is about three steps you can take to optimise your site for local hits.
It is possible to sift through a World Wide Web of people to find those living in your area and needing your service.  It's just a case of making yourself visible to them.  


About the Author:  Dana Flannery is a specialist in online marketing for small business and provides SEO copywriting, content marketing, social media and branding services on a small business budget.