First is word of mouth marketing. I decided to look this phrase up online and discovered there is actually a Word of Mouth Marketing Association that was founded in 2004. WOMMA as it’s called is an organization dedicated to the ethical and successful use of word of mouth marketing, which as you can imagine requires the use of social media to have a deeper impact. I was impressed with their website because they have educational components and they follow changes in current laws, regulations and compliance issues that affect communication online and help you wade through that muck. Check them out.
A second component of local marketing strategies are reviews. Sites like Google Plus Local, Yelp and Trip Advisor for example, encourage customers to review local businesses. Those reviews can have an impact on your word of mouth marketing. What they don’t do is affect your SEO or search engine optimization. SEO is the aspect of online marketing that tells the search engine what your website is about so your site can be ranked, the equivalent of being entered into the virtual card catalog if you will.
Some local businesses have hard feelings about these review sites and their impact because there is always the opportunity for unhappy customers to leave bad reviews and there are even instances of disgruntled employees and fake customers or competitors leaving bogus bad reviews. Unfortunately, it can be impossible to very difficult as well as time consuming to have bas reviews removed.
Since I already mentioned SEO let’s look at search engine optimization from the local business level as our third strategy. There are plenty of companies that claim they can put you on page one of “the Google” in very short order. I caution you to really understand how that number one ranking is going to be accomplished. In the SEO world there are practices known as white hat, gray hat and black hat. They refer to practices that are smiled upon, frowned upon or downright squashed like a bug beneath a big ‘ole boot. It’s not only wrong, but dangerous to your virtual real estate to use black hat practices, the practices that Google disallows; because in response Google will squash you under their giant search engine boot and you’re website will never be heard from again. Gambling with gray hat is just that, gambling. Depending on your risk tolerance gray hat practices may be okay with you and easier to recover from should something go wrong. White hat SEO local marketing strategies take longer to become effective because they are not only legitimate but organic.
3 Local Marketing Strategies That Work And How You Should Use Them
In terms of word of mouth marketing, I invite you to listen to the May 13th 2014 podcast on ACT LOCAL Marketing because my guest and I will discuss word of mouth marketing ideas that you can use.
Second, take a look at your business on review sites. If you go to Google and search the name of your business and the word reviews right after it, Google will deliver you all the results that exist online where your business shows up on review sites. Check out what people have been saying and determine if there is value to those reviews. A bad review can feel like someone just slapped you across the face; I understand. But after you calm down, think about whether that customer has a legitimate complaint and what you can do to fix the problem. Then create local marketing strategies to encourage current and new customers to leave you fresh reviews so you can begin to drown out any negative reviews that exist.
Finally, SEO. Keep in mind whether it’s realistic for your business to show up on page one of Google search results. If you are one of 450 dentists in a 20 mile radius, it may not be realistic to expect to end up on page one, especially if your business is new. That doesn’t mean SEO is a waste of time, it’s not. SEO is important, in fact I think it’s very important but don’t fall prey to charlatans that offer first page rankings in 30 days without having an thorough understanding of how they do it and whether or not their practices are legitimate. Then simply Google the SEO strategies and find out what experts have to say about whether they are white, gray or black hat.
There are many many more local marketing strategies both online and offline that can and should be part of your marketing arsenal, but my fingers are tired and you should get back to work anyway. Until next time.