#4) Complete Your Google Business Profile

Other than your own website, there probably isn’t anything online that’s as important to your local marketing efforts than your company’s Google Business profile.  This is the page the world’s largest search engine uses to tell the world about your company when it lists businesses within a certain category in geographic area.

You have undoubtedly seen these search results hundreds or thousands of times, but have you considered what your own looks like?  Far too many business owners haven’t.

The first step towards maintaining a strong Google Business profile is simply having one, of course.  You want to ensure you’re signed up, that your profile is complete (with details like location photos, web address, and contact information included), and that all the data presented is up-to-date. This only takes a few minutes, but it’s a massively important step a lot of business owners miss.

If your street address is misstated, for instance, or your hours of operation, it could cost you the chance to make new sales each and every week.  So, be sure to double check everything and make a note to revisit your listing from time to time.

It’s also a MUST to get a few of your best customers to leave positive reviews for your company on Google Business.  That’s because potential buyers will see these reviews (and especially your overall star rating) before they ever visit your website or learn anything else about you. In other words, those reviews can make or break your local marketing efforts.

A good way to stay on top of your Google Business profile is to have your web design team use online reputation management software that tracks profiles and feedback across the web.  It only costs a few dollars a month and gives you all the tools you need to manage these listings for a few minutes per week.

Regardless of how you set it up and monitor it, though, it’s imperative that you have a complete Google Business profile that says the right things about your company.

manage your online customer reviews

#5) Manage Your Online Customer Reviews

While Google Business might be your most important platform for collecting and showing off customer feedback, it’s certainly not the only one you’ll need to pay attention to.  Buyers can share their experiences with your company on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and industry forums.  What they have to say about you can convince someone else to give your business a try…or stay away.

For that reason, these online reviews have massive importance in your local marketing plan.  Luckily, the formula for making them a strength is very similar to the plan we already outlined for Google Business.  Namely, you’ll want to complete your profiles, ensure they are accurate, and then encourage happy customers to say good things about you online.

There are couple of details that should be mentioned, however.  The first is that the job of managing your online reputation (that is, the sum of your reviews and profiles) gets much, much easier when you are using the right software and tools.  It’s hard enough to keep one Google Business profile updated; it can be almost impossible to watch dozens of them.  In fact, your business might have profiles on websites you weren’t even aware of.

The other thing to remember is that there will likely come a point when you’ll have to deal with negative reviews.  Responding to angry or dissatisfied customers can be an aggravating experience for any business owner, but it isn’t something you want to do without thinking first.

It’s easy to make things worse by becoming upset.  So, your first priority is to stay calm and think about things from the other person’s point of view.  What is it that really made them unhappy, and what can you learn or change about your company as a result?

Once you have that perspective, you can address the complaint or poor feedback, through your profile, in a respectful way.  Address the issue or misunderstanding and promise to do better in the future.  That’s not as good as having a good review, of course, but customers will usually take notice and give you another chance in the future.

Online reviews can boost your business or hold it back.  More importantly, they can do so before you ever get a chance to interact with the potential customer.  Remember that and use the right tools to stay on top of the job.

work with local media to attract customers

#6) Work With Local Media to Attract Customers

Smaller business owners often think of public relations as being the domain of Fortune 500 corporations. What they don’t always understand is that there are plenty of opportunities for local companies to make their way into the news.

If you’ve never worked with a local paper or newsletter you might not realize they sometimes struggle to fill their pages.  Because they are often run by just a few people, the same person who gathers advertising and arranges print layouts might also be the one in charge of finding stories.  If you can present them with an interesting personal story or neighborhood event they may be willing to cover it. In some cases they might even let you submit copy to be printed.

While it’s not exactly true that any press is good press, it’s almost always beneficial to have people reading about your business and its employees, products, or services.  Even the smallest publication is likely to find its way to thousands of readers.  In addition, copies or reprints of the articles can be used to promote your company or expertise for years to come.

Perhaps the best thing about working with local media is that it opens you up to bigger PR possibilities in the future.  For instance, once you’re familiar with the process of working with reporters you might decide to talk to an editor from a bigger regional paper or the editor of a trade magazine that covers your industry.  You could reach out to bloggers, book authors, and social influencers.

As you pursue these contacts you help to build a reputation for yourself and your business.  Incidentally, you’ll also be creating back links to your website that help your local search engine optimization efforts.  And most importantly, you’ll be creating name and brand recognition with customers in your area.

While this isn’t necessarily a web-only strategy, it will definitely enhance your online local marketing. Most business owners never get good PR simply because they don’t ask for it or pursue any leads with writers and editors in their area.  Don’t be afraid to give this proven process for growing your business a try.

10-Point Strategy Guide to Small Business Website Design and Internet Marketing is a ten part Blog series by Founder and Owner of WebWize, Inc., Glenn Brooks.

Glenn has been part of the website design and development industry since 1994, over two decades.  Before WebWize he spent more than 15 years in the Advertising, Marketing, and Print Industries.  Don't miss this opportunity!

10 Part Strategy Series TOC

About Glenn Brooks

Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.