Category Archives: Local Marketing

11 Easy Local Marketing Ideas (Part 3)

8. Engage In A Conversation With Local Contacts Using Social Media

It seems that no conversation about marketing these days can be complete without the discussion of social media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Gowalla, FourSquare… the list of tools seems endless.

While there is simply not enough room in this short article to explain everything about how to use social media, here are some useful rules to remember:

  • It’s all about opening relationships, not about closing sales. Engage in conversations and try to really get to know the people you’ve met through social media.
  • Each tool gives you access to a different slice of the population. Make sure it is the (“slice”) you’re going after as your customers.
  • Master one tool at a time. Once that one is working, delegate /outsource it and add the next one. Rinse and repeat. Trying to get all of them going at once will kill you. Besides, mastering just one tool may be enough for you to create a comfortable inflow of prospects for your business.
  • First and foremost, figure out how you can target new contacts / friends / fans / followers based on their geographical location. It can be done. However, each tool is different and most of the training out there doesn’t pay much credence to this very important issue.
  • Budget your “social media” time. Set that kitchen timer to 30 minutes, and when it goes off, you’re going to send out that last chat, close that website and get on with your “normal” work.

9. Create an Advertising Co-op With Other Local Businesses

Befriend a few local businesses that target the wallet of the same customers as you do and come up with a way to advertise all of them together while sharing the cost of advertising. Say, you go ahead and buy a larger ad in the newspaper than you normally would and then use that space to run several smaller ads: One for yourself, one for the butcher, another one for the bakers, and a yet another one for the candlestick maker. Or consider your own in-house version of Val-Packs that you manage and hence don’t have to pay a premium on (in fact, your ad could be free because you put in the sweat equity into managing the co-op).

10. Offer a Daily Deal

Now that Groupon has become so big and powerful that they can turn down two multi-billion-dollar buy-out bids from Google, not a day goes by that we don’t hear about a new “daily deal” site trying to carve out a piece of that pie. With daily deal sites mushrooming around the Internet, you have a variety of options available to you and, with some of them, certain negotiation power. Only do a daily deal on the terms that will allow you to provide good service and maintain your brand’s reputation.  Create a mechanism of capturing the contact details of your first-time guests and have a “bounce-back” offer ready to bring them back the second time. Remember: You don’t have a customer until they’ve bought from you twice.

11. Develop a Network of Local Centres of Influence

Somewhat similar to #9, this tactic allows you to leverage the client / customer base of other local businesses. However, in this case you are going to sit down with a few friendly businesses and create a formalized referral agreement between all of you. A good example would be a real estate agent, a mortgage broker, a lawyer, and an interior designer, etc creating a “team” that takes care of all aspects related to a real estate transaction.  A marketing consultant could work with an accountant, a graphics designer, and a computer technology person. A restaurant, a local baker, a “loot bag” store and a wine-making place could provide a complete “birthday package”. I could continue but I’m sure you have a few ideas by now that you can start implementing in your business.

Now that you have read these 11 Easy Local Marketing Idea, which ones are you going to implement this week?


CNN Says Marketers Use QR Codes, For Better Or Worse

Just came across this article on the CNN site that provides numerous examples — some successful and some not so — of various businesses using QR codes in their marketing.

(Click here to read the article on the CNN website)

As is the case with any other marketing tool, you can profit from adding QR codes to your mobile marketing arsenal or you can lose money. It’s all about the right approach and implementation.  It makes you money if it adds value to your customer. Otherwise it becomes just another cumbersome and useless technological doohickey that was put in place as a tribute to the latest fashion in technology trends with no real connection to the sales conversations from the customers that is supposed to take place in that business.

You’ll find both types of examples (good and bad) in this article.

Here’s an interesting stat that I gleaned from it: Over 32% of cell phone users already have QR scanning software installed on their smartphone. That number grows every day. Over half of those people have used their QR Code scanner to get a coupon or a deal.

Now, ask yourself how many businesses right now, in your town, are marketing QR Code-based coupons to prospective customers? The answer is, hardly any.

If those stats are true, simply adding QR Codes to your marketing may potentially give you almost exclusive access to about 16% of the population.  If this is not shooting fish in the barrel, I don’t know what is.

And if you’re still not a believer in QR Codes, you should at the very least add SMS Marketing and SMS List Building to your advertising efforts.  The more channels you use to reach your customer, the better your chances of getting the sale are.

11 Easy Local Marketing Ideas (Part 2)

4. Create a VIP / Birthday Club

If you are a restaurant, creating a birthday club should be no-brainer: Everyone has a birthday, and practically no one will come to celebrate it alone. If you are NOT a restaurant, celebrating birthdays may not be as relevant to your product or service. However, there are endless opportunities for a VIP Club, where you reward those clients, customers and patients who are the most loyal to you.

5. Throw a Party

This ideas is closely related to the previous one and is very successfully used by one real estate agent. Once a year, he rents a movie theatre and invites all his clients with families and friends to come and catch a nice family flick. Referrals from that simple action are amazing, both in quantity and quality. If renting an entire movie theatre sounds too big of an idea for you, you can throw a customer appreciation party and let them bring guests.

6. Become a Public Speaker

Most local business professionals don’t realize that the stuff they do every day and that seems too mundane and boring to them, can actually be very interesting to someone else who is not a member of the profession but rather is a potential client. Local papers, radio and TV stations, and websites are all hungry for more good stories and quality content. And you could be the one to provide it… while creating a reputation of a true expert who is head and shoulders above their competition. If you don’t have much experience of speaking in public, join Toastmasters. Then once you have your 15-30 minute presentation on some issue related to your profession, contact some local Rotary clubs (Lions, Kiwanis, and other community groups too) and get invited as a speaker: They need one every week and they are a great audience.

7. Claim and Maintain Your Google Places Profile

Google has created millions of web pages for local businesses and over 90% of them have not been claimed. These pages provide information about the location of your business, products and services offers, and the public gets to share their experiences. People are quite literally talking about you behind your back… and if you are like most small business owners out there, you are not privy to that conversions and you definitely do not control it. Google Places is the next frontier when it comes to helping local businesses meet their new clients. This is the new Yellow Pages and it is no longer about who can buy the biggest ad anymore. If you are not managing your Google Places, or not getting the results you want from it, get someone you trust to help you (and I sincerely hope you pick us).

Small Town in Texas Uses QR Codes to Save Money, Increase Tourism, and Manage Projects

QR (Quick Response) Codes are a relative novelty on the North American continent. However, in Japan, they have been around for over 20 years and have been successfully used for… like, everything. They are just a part of everyday life.

This is about to happen here as well. (You could be reading this post just a few months after I have created it and it may all seem old news by then.)

While many businesses are looking for more ways to use QR Codes in their marketing, here is a great example of a local government using QR Codes creatively and smartly to save money, attract more tourists to their town’s landmarks, and better manage their projects.

What makes QR Codes so useful is this:

  • Everyone can generate them free
  • Everyone can read them, also for free, with their cell phone
  • And you can assign practically any function to it. After all, all you need to do is associate it with a link to a website, and then the website can do whatever you want)

We are going to be covering a lot of ways to use QR Codes in small business marketing. Some examples will be obvious and some less so. If you come across a great example, or have a personal success story to share about how you use QR Codes in your small business marketing or operations, drop us a note and we’ll be happy to give you a moment of fame on this website.

Mobile Marketing: Farewell To The Wallet

Whenever I leave my house, I have my wallet in one pocket and my cell phone in the other. (Well, okay, these days it’s a Blackberry so it’s much more than just a “cell phone”.)

There is no chance I leave either one behind. If I did, I’d notice it right away… unless, of course, I put something else in that pocket. Without my phone or without my wallet I feel kinda naked. Just like most people these days.

We take our used-to-be-cell-phones now-smart-phone everywhere we go. Here, now, in the 21st centry, a smart phone is almost a body part.

When a cell phone came about, it replaced a regular, “land” phone line and allowed us to take it on the road. Then it replaced our computer. And our MP3 player. Sometimes it manages to replace TV and books (a hard thing to pull of because of the size.) However, one thing is pretty obvious: The next fronteir is your wallet and credit cards. Smart phones are about to replace those and that is likely to happen very soon.

Already now, if you have an account with PayPal, you can pay for things online on sites like eBay and Amazon, right from your smart phone. Through PayPal, it will automatically charge your credit card or take the money out of your bank account.

What does this mean to us business owners?

It’s very simple: When the smart-phone payment technology becomes available, not embracing it will be like refusing to take credit cards today. (Just to be fair, some businesses chose not to take credit cards, however, it’s rarely a smart move: You save 2% – 3% in credit card charges but you lose in the number and the size of orders.)

Pay attention to the new things coming out that make the concept “electronic wallet” a bit more ubiquitous. When it goes mainstream, there is going to be a rush to have this in place at every store. Running with the masses, at best, will only let you maintain the market share of local dollars you earn. Being at the front of it will let you capitalize on it. This new mobile marketing window of opportunity is about to open. Be there when it does.

Local SEO: People Talk About You Behind Your Back!

FACT 1: Google has built a website for your business.

FACT 2: Because Google built it and Google is hosting it, this website probably attracts more visitors than your “regular” website.

FACT 3: If you are like 98% of business owners out there, you didn’t know about that and you didn’t claim your website.

FACT 4: And since you didn’t know about this website and didn’t claim it, it’s anyone’s guess what type of information is on it and what type of reputation this website creates for your business. People quite literally use that website to talk about your business behind your back and you are not privy to that conversation.

FACT 5: These (largely orphaned) websites are called Google Places.

See, Internet marketing is no longer about someone sitting at their London office and drop-shipping a container from Beijing to a customer in San Francisco. I mean, this type of stuff still takes place online. But it’s no longer the “main thing”.

The “main thing” now is much more about:

  • A local soccer mom checking out pizza deals to see where she could take Johnny after his game so he could replace the calories he’s expended on the field…
  • A Dad looking up the store hours of operation and the fastest route to get there because the kitchen sink is leaking and needs a new washer…
  • Or someone with a tooth ache looking which dentist could see him the fastest.

These are examples of how Internet is being used today. It is important that we understand this.

And Google understands this too. And so do Yahoo and Bing. Now if you type “chiropractor toronto”, Google assumes (correctly!) that it’s a local search and it gives you a bunch of results from Google Places that are local to you.

See, if you are looking for a chiropractor in Toronto, you wouldn’t want to see a chiro from Singapore at the top of your search, even if that chiro had hired the best SEO (Search Engine Optimization) consultant in the world and has the most “optimized” site on the planet. Google will try to show you the results that are local — and hence more relevant — to you.

The fact that Google pays so much attention to local search, and Yahoo / Bing play catch up but are rapidly moving in the same direction, changes how the online marketing game is played. And every time the game changes, it gives you a chance to profit in a major way but only if you act fast.

How do you spell OPPORTUNITY?

11 Easy Local Marketing Ideas (Part 1)

Here are some easy-to-do local marketing ideas.

1. Lawn Signs

Put a sign outside your store or in the window of your office and provide some sort of incentive to lure the passes-by in. This could be a coupon or an offer to receive some valuable free information. Think about using a QR Code on that sign. These days, almost everyone walks around with a smart phone in their back pocket.

2. Cork boards

Print out a simple flier with a tear-aways at the bottom. Make it easy for your prospects to take the information about your offer with them. Now take these fliers to local community centres, hockey arenas, libraries, swimming pools and anywhere where there would be a “community” cork board. Who said local marketing has to be super high-tech?

3. Give Away Flyers for Other Businesses

And have these other businesses give away your flyer to their customers. Once you set up a deal like this with one business, go talk to one or two more. Then rinse and repeat. Imagine how many people a bunch of local businesses can send to you.

4. Create or Sponsor a Contest

Contests are fun and are usually hugely profitable. The best part is that the topic of the contest doesn’t really need to relate to what you do. They position your business and you as an active member of the local community and offer great opportunities for media placement. Pumpkin Carving contests, Best Halloween Costume contests, Karaoki contest, you name it… Just make sure to get the schools and local community groups involved and don’t forget to distribute a coupon or a special offer that everyone that shows up to the contest may partake in.

Start with these easy local marketing ideas and will give you a few more next time.

QR Codes: If You Were Asking For A Break, You’ve Just Got One

Have you seen these big ugly square things around? They are called QR Codes and they have the potential of creating the biggest growth in your sales in the next 6 to 36 months.

Here’s why.

You are about to see a lot more of these QR Codes around in a very short time. If you have a business and are not using them to build you mobile list, get your name into more people’s cell phones, push out specials and promos, and lure in the passes-by, you’re missing out on a lot of sales.

Right now it’s still a novelty and many people don’t know what this is all about. However, this situation is about to change is it’s going to happen rapidly.

I already see parents on my son’s hockey team “scan” each other with the BlackBerry’s. The other day, I happened to drive by one of the Liberal candidate’s signs in Toronto that featured a QR code. And there is a realtor on my street that has a sign for the house with a QR code on it!

The sooner you jump onto this bandwagon the bigger will be your reward. There are so many things you can do with them. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

If you are a restaurant, you can set up some table tents with QR codes and the people could load the information about your establishment or your food into their smart phone by just pointing it to the QR Code. You can give them specials, have them join your VIP Club, or simply provide them more some information about the ingredients and the recipes you use.

If you are a salon owner, put out a sign in the window with your QR code on it. A passer-by may want to scan it, join your mobile list and start receiving special offers from you. And who knows, maybe the offer you will immediately send to their phone will be the one and makes them change their plans and walk into your store.

If you are a photographer, instead of just dropping off fliers and postcards at local copy shops, you can add you QR Code and have your prospects immediately go to your website and check out your work.

As I said, the only limit if your imagination. I predict that the QR Code explosion is coming. It’s almost here, it’s just around the corner. Don’t let it take you by surprise. Surprises are good when it’s a nice gift you get on your birthday. Surprises are typically not a good thing in business.