Generating leads is critically important to keep a business healthy. No customers, no business. So, it’s imperative to develop a marketing plan that provides a structure for consistent, ongoing marketing efforts. However, there are a number of relatively simple things that every business can do that will improve their visibility in the marketplace and that will allow them to take advantage of marketing opportunities when they arise.
- Claim Your Local Accounts – Local search, particularly for small business that serve a limited localized area, is hugely important. Search engines are now leveraging users physical location and serving them results based on proximity. If your local accounts are not set up and optimized your business will be invisible. While there are dozens of databases out there that you may be listed in, the most important step is to hit the high value targets. These would be (in order of importance) Google, Bing, Yelp, and YP. There are handful of tools out there that let you assess your business profile in local accounts but I have found Moz Local – to be very helpful. Run your domain through and start knocking down the erroneous or absent information. As you begin the process of claiming local listing, its a good idea to make sure you have all of the information you will need to fill out the listings at your immediate disposal.This will include:
- official institution name
- exact address
- phone numbers (which should include fax or toll free lines)
- email address that is a central point of contact
- website url
- hours of operation
- an approved 150 word description of the organization
- photos and links to any online videos about your institution
- Get Your Social House in Order – Social media’s increasing influence in society means it cannot be ignored, yet many business owners are still unsure how to leverage it. First and foremost, get your accounts setup. Even if you don’t plan to use them immediately, you should establish your presence and make sure you have your brand claimed and ready to go when you do develop a plan to use them.
- Go Mobile – Every day new statistics come out that demonstrate the increasing number of people who use mobile devices to access the internet. It is a trend that will only increase and if your website is not designed for these devices your business will suffer. In some business sectors (like restaurants) nearly half of the website traffic comes from mobile devices. There are a couple of directions you can go to get your site up to snuff, but the best is a mobile responsive site that scales and rearranges based on the device it is being viewed on. It’s too important to ignore. Just get it done.
- Get Photography of Your Business – As a marketing and advertising agency we work with a wide range of clients from small to medium sized businesses, but one thing that is consistent across all of them is the lack of quality photography of the business and it’s people. Photos are a fundamental way to convey the story of your business yet it is one that is almost completely ignored. Hire a photographer and get a good set of photos that covers your business facility, people, processes, and real life. This is much easier than it used to be. Once upon a time photographers demanded commercial licensing that was very restrictive and costly. Now there are many good photographers that will provide buy out licensing for very reasonable prices. The benefits will emerge immediately and often. You will be prepared for press releases, ads, web content and many other situations. You will be pleasantly surprised how often it will help you market your business.
- Get Your Email List in Order – You may have a ragtag collection of emails in your “database” somewhere but it’s time to pull it all together. If you have a list of clients you can start with that, but it typically will not meet stringent opt-in requirements. Use this kind of base list carefully and expect some unsubscribes or maybe even complaints. It’s best to set up your opt-in forms on your website to start collecting legitimate subscribers. The value of a list of people who are actively interested in your business is huge. It can be leveraged to communicate special offers as well as newsletters to expand your engagement with existing customers and followers.
While none of these are replacements for consistent ongoing marketing efforts, they will make a big difference in the short term (particularly local accounts) and will ensure that you are prepared when you are ready to take on a comprehensive approach to marketing.