Question: What's one ONLINE marketing investment you'd recommend a brick-and-mortar business make to grow business in their area, and why?
"Just think about how your customers find you. What's the first thing they do? Go to Google to find your location, hours and whether you provide the service/product they are looking for. If you can't rank high enough with just your keywords, AdWords is a great way to have your name appear at the top of the search results. "
Proactive Review Requests
"Brick-and-mortar businesses can be crushed by a few bad reports on review sites, such as Yelp, particularly because customers are more likely to post when they're upset. You have to be proactive about asking your customers to post positive reviews of your business online. Make it a priority, even if you don't have a website in place yet."
A Customer Service Portal
"On top of ensuring that the experience inside of the shop is stellar, a local vendor should invest in customer satisfaction. Online reviews are becoming more and more important to the success of local businesses. Good service leads to good reviews. If you have a system in place that accepts complaints and remedies a bad experience, you can save yourself the bad online reputation."
Geo-Targeted Mobile Ads
"If you’re considering an advertising campaign, realize that today you can geo-target your customers while they’re in the car or at the mall nearby. Mobile ad campaigns can target customers with ads within a specific (e.g. 10-mile) radius around your store locations. This helps increase your awareness and likelihood of purchases by targeting only those people close enough to visit your store."
"Want your business to be well-known by tech geeks who will promote your business across social media? Simply offer a discount for checking in. Offering these deals not only promotes customer loyalty, but it offers greater visibility on the Foursquare search engine for people who are using this tool to discover new places. "
"A regular newsletter to leads and clients is a fantastic way to update the community about events, specials and opportunities. It's much more cost-competitive than physical mailings per user and, when done correctly, can be more effective than advertising in print media. Keep the content relevant and don't email too often, and it will strengthen relationships and loyalty."
Online Directory Services
"There are a number of websites that allow you to register your business in online directories; some are free. These increase your website’s local relevancy in search engines. For example, if someone searches for “donut shop in [your city],” your website will be more likely to display near the top of the search results. "
A Domain Name
"A domain name can help set a small business apart from the competition. The customer will find them easier, they’ll have more authority and they will have a big edge. You might own a bakery in Miami named Betty’s Bakery. If you invest in a domain name like MiamiBakery.com, you will see incredible results, with more customers and credibility."
Local Landing Pages
"The number one thing that brick-and-mortar businesses can do to grow their business is create great local landing pages for their website. The web is going totally local, and having current, updated local landing pages will improve the customer experience, increase search rank, and pull more people into the location."
"Facebook Offers are different from Facebook ads. You can attract people in a manner similar to "coupon-clipping." The price for a business is very small, and the benefits are better than being in a newspaper or circular, as every time a customer redeems your offer, their friends are notified, thereby spreading the word about your business."
"SinglePlatform enables small brick-and-mortar businesses to publish their most important information online. Small businesses don't usually have the staff to update the thousands of websites customers search. SinglePlatform gives SMBs one simple interface to keep everything up to date. (SinglePlatform was acquired by ConstantContact for $100M in cash and stock in mid-2012.)"
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.