The purpose of Small Business U. and the information we provide is to help business owners navigate the minefields of marketing, advertising, necessary computer equipment, tools & technology, and to protect you against perils and expense of misinformation so you can make better decisions on these topics.
This post is contains information which is easy to understand, easy to implement, requires no technical skills and, the value of which should not be underestimated.
There’s no need to be tech-savvy to leverage many of the free marketing and advertising resources on the web. Want more new customers? In this post you’re going to learn five ways to expand your online footprint so your business become can become more visible online. If you want new customers who don’t already know you exist, I’m about to teach you how to do it.
1. Do a Google Search of Your Phone Number
The first thing you do is type your business phone number into a Google search. Look at the results. I advise you to do this on a laptop or desktop computer so you can see all the search results.
You’re probably going to find your phone number is listed on some websites you’ve never heard of. Click on them. It’s very likely you have your business profile on websites you never knew existed!
However, many of them will probably have incomplete or sometimes incorrect information about your business.
Most of these websites will give you the opportunity to claim your listing and modify it. Take advantage of this free advertising opportunity.
A. Make sure your business address and phone number are accurate. Sometimes these websites get this Vital Information wrong.
B. Add your website address. If someone visits this page you want your website address to be there as a clickable link so they can visit your website directly.
C. Add your logo and photos. Most of these sites will allow you to upload dozens of photos. Take advantage of this, especially on Google and Yelp.
D. Thoroughly describe your business, products, and services. Use whatever resources these website make available. Take advantage of this and be as thorough as possible.
2. Spy on Your Competitors Online and Expand Your Marketing Reach
This will be an eye-opener and a possible marketing breakthrough for your business. Type the phone number of your competitors into a Google Search and compare the results with yours!
Is your business listed everywhere your competitors are listed? If not click on those listings. Most of them will have a link or a button somewhere on the page which says “add a business.”
Add your business profile to every Free Directory possible. I’ve been providing this service to local business owners ever since the search engines and directories for local businesses first began to emerge and bring focus to “local business” marketing. I call it the internet gravity wheel.
It was and still is the cornerstone of my message in seminars consulting and services we provide at Small Business University.
3. Online Reviews-A Powerful (and FREE) Marketing Weapon
Yelp, Google, Home Advisor, Facebook, these are all places (and there are others) were you can acquire online reviews. These are valuable opportunities most businesses neglect. In fact, most business owners frown upon them because there is source of headache. But they truly are a marketing opportunity and I’ll explain why:
A. The Search for Online Reviews Puts Your Business in Front of More People Actively Looking for a Business Like Yours RIGHT NOW. Nearly 9 out of 10 consumers refer to online reviews when making buying decisions these days. If you have a presence on review sites, you will be seen. Often, you don’t even have the choice of having a presence on review sites because they’ll put you on without your knowledge. It’s a reality we have to live with so we might as well make the best of it. People who look at reviews are almost always in the process of making a buying decision very, very soon.
B. Take Control of Your Profile. When you intentionally add your business profile to review sites or claim a review site which is was done for you, then you will have the ability to modify and optimize your profile. You may also be notified by email (depending upon the site) when someone leaves an online reviews and this is the opportunity.
C. Positive Reviews
Obviously positive reviews are essential. And your business you should take every measure to make sure your customers know you plan to deliver a five-star experience. When I work with restaurants for example, I recommend printing and inserting a card inside the menu which reads something like this: “Thank you for joining us for dinner. Your satisfaction is our priority. If your experience tonight is anything less than perfect, please let us know now. We’re here to serve you to the best of our ability and to deliver a great experience. The chef is in the kitchen right now whipping up his/her amazing creations and every one is made to order, so please be patient.”
On the bottom of this card, it reads: “To get our weekly specials list, coupons, and a birthday gift, fill out the form below” where thee’s a place for at least 2 names and email addresses.
By insisting that customer to let us know of any dissatisfaction now, during the meal, this card effectively gives the customer bit of responsibility for their satisfaction and has has effectively reduced negative reviews and improved the quality of reviews overall.
Further, those who fill out their contact information are clearly interested in returning to the restaurant and will likely cooperate if asked to provide a positive review. Even of you’re not in the restaurant business, can you think of a way to prepare your customers in advance to assure a quality experience?
D. Negative Reviews: Turning Lemons into Lemonade.
Negative reviews can even turn positive if you handle them in a positive way. Let’s face it, some people just want to find something to complain about. Also, sometimes it’s possible to have a quality or service failure. Negative reviews are inevitable.
The good news is, you can respond to negative reviews and if you do it in a classy fashion, potential customers can read your classy of response. A classy response will garner respect for you. The negative review is neutralized. In some cases you can even win back the unhappy customer who could actually become a raving fan. This is good stuff.
E. Repurpose Your Reviews
You can copy and paste positive reviews from the review sites onto your own website. Adding a page of testimonials on your site is smart marketing. You can even link them back to their source (on Yelp, for example), which confirms their legitimacy.
My last and very effective recommendation for free advertising online is YouTube. By having videos on YouTube, You’re effectively adding content to the world’s number two search engine behind Google. YouTube videos can also be easily embedded onto your website. The topic of video marketing can fill a book. I won’t go into great length here but I WILL be writing more on this topic. I’m very passionate about it.
I will say that effective videos online are not like TV commercials. Instead, they’re more like helpful tips or demonstrations which add value to the consumer experience. Informational and demonstration videos position you as the helpful expert and your business as the trusted business in your field.
Anyone with a smart phone has a camera good enough to capture video to post on YouTube and your website. It’s truly a gift.
If you have any interest in learning more about any of these topics, please give me your feedback here. Perhaps we can do a webinar or an online group discussion. Likewise, if you want me to go into depth in any of these topics let me know that too. Thank you for reading this post.
Andrew Mazer, Founder of Mazer Wholesale, Inc. established since 1986. In 1996, I began marketing my wholesale business online. In 2009, I began helping other business owners market THEIR business online. I am the author of The Business Owner's Guide to Marketing Online, The Groupon Solution, and The One Good Idea Newsletter. Contact me at Andrew@smallbusinessu.org