The Advantage of Local Marketing for Utah Small Businesses
In an increasingly globalizing business world, it can be tempting to promote your brand to every person in the world. Even if what you sell could be sold everywhere, successful companies usually start at the local level.
We are a marketing agency in Utah with a unique perspective about promoting companies online. We, too, can work with any company on the globe. We have the technology to manage marketing campaigns for our clients anywhere in the world. Yet, we focus on seeking out clients here in Utah. Whenever we start working with a company, we usually consider concentrating their budget on their nearby community. Why is this the best place for most companies to start?
If you are a small business owner in Utah, let us offer you a few fundamental reasons to consider why even if you have products and services you can sell globally, first consider marketing to your local community:
01: Local Marketing in Utah Is Easier and Less Expensive than Global Advertising
Even though anyone can find a company on the Internet, Google has designed its algorithm around an important concept: The search engine company believes people prefer to do business with companies near them, where there is a possibility of working face to face. As a result, Google, and any other typical search engine one may use, know the user’s location and factor that into the equation when giving search results. Google’s decision to favor local businesses was a crucial component in making their search engine so effective in the early days of the Internet, giving them dominance in the search industry.
Local search factors have not diminished as many digital search users have shifted to mobile devices, making the user’s location even more relevant.
The Cost of a National Advertising Campaign
Consider how expensive it used to be, and still is for that matter, to launch a massive new branding campaign using traditional advertising methods like television commercials or print media. In that context, the innovation of Google’s local search components is pretty enormous. The Internet offers small companies the opportunity to sell to customers using content marketing, allowing them to compete with much larger companies. The advantage that Google has allowed small businesses in the digital environment has been game-changing.
There’s some investment involved in building a marketing campaign. Small businesses who choose to invest in SEO must do so continuously every month to maintain their presence online. But the cost of a more targeted strategy is tiny compared with what it would take to build a national brand. For many companies it just makes sense to invest in an online approach.
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What is Involved in Content Marketing for Local Small Businesses?
The goal of content marketing for small businesses targeting customers nearby is to improve their ranking in the Google SERP. The keyword phrases used by potential customers often have a local intent. Extensive research on potential keywords, discerning whether those words trigger generalized content for a global audience or local businesses is important.
Online marketing involves optimizing the site in a few targeted ways. If you are focusing on nearby customers, local keywords should be used throughout the website in the right way. Placing a correct address in the footer is essential. Companies with multiple offices should build out individual location pages.
This involves adding optimized information to local listing sites like Google My Business, Facebook, and location-specific sites, like a directory for a popular newspaper in that area. Industries have their own sites, like Psychology Today and Houzz. These provide opportunities to list the company, using the correct name, phone number, and address. It also provides space for content, which includes keyword-optimized text and unique images.
The Local Pack
Google added a component in the early days of developing the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) known as the local pack or map pack. This feature is a group of three companies, which shows up towards the top of the SERP. Accompanying the list of three companies is a Google Map. The way it’s presently showing to users, you will also see a button that says “view all” with a link to a full directory of businesses in that category.
The local pack gives another advantage to small businesses. Many users will often click on the companies featured in the 3-pack offering, especially if they see a star ranking, which indicates an obvious choice to the customer.
To show up in the Google directory, companies must list with Google My Business. They must monitor their company’s local profile, adding information as appropriate. This process also includes watching and responding to their online reviews.
The Importance of Google Reviews
At a certain point, the decision that Google made that companies on their platform would be reviewed by customers is one of the most significant factors in how the Internet has developed in the past few decades. Even companies with a global reach must compete in their area for online reviews. This factor has given small, locally-owned businesses a fighting chance against larger companies if they can generate positive reviews online.
In particular industries, like the restaurant industry, where location and availability to customers are critical, a small eatery can readily compete against big corporate brands to produce superior products and services if their customers say so online. This fact doesn’t suggest a high-quality café will drive McDonald’s out of business. It merely gives the great mom and pop shop a chance to carve out a specialty niche market.
Understanding your Local Market
As you consult with a digital marketing agency, you’ll need to understand the exact areas where you want to be found by customers. SEO specialists will examine your area very precisely to know locations to target your website. They will research to see how people in your area search. For example, customers in Salt Lake County and the surrounding suburbs may search for a professional by typing in the keyword phrase followed by the neighborhood clarifiers. Consumers in a large metropolitan area will put “Salt Lake City,” into their query phrase, even if they don’t exactly live in the city itself. A certain number of search terms may be searched for by the state of “Utah” in it.
Sometimes community residents don’t even put a local term when they perform a query, but they assume the search engine will know where they are when they type in their search terms. Some keyword phrases have what we would consider local intent. For example: “remodeling contractors” suggests the searcher is looking for a nearby business even though they haven’t explicitly put in a local term. Deciphering specific intent around keywords is a tricky process, requiring a lot of skill and investigation by the digital marketing analyst.
Working with a search engine optimization expert with proficiency in researching these issues can be of much value. It’s not something you can usually figure out as a business owner on your own. It requires an advanced understanding of how to conduct keyword research, involving the use of online SEO tools. We can help you ask and answer the difficult questions related to marketing in local areas here in Utah, or wherever you reside as a business at Buzz Author.
02: Building a Local Reputation is Essential for any Company through Word of Mouth and Online
Every company should want to develop a positive reputation in its local community, even if it is a worldwide brand. It’s often advantageous, especially when it’s time to hire professionals, to be known as productive neighbors in the business community.
Many Online Platforms for Reviews
An extension of your reputation is your rank in online reviews. Google is just one place where customers will review their experience working with you. Many platforms exist with powerful and loyal userbases where your company can be rated and reviewed. Some websites, like Facebook, have a social media component to them and offer you advertising options. Others, like Yelp, were designed almost solely to review local companies. Some online review sites have been developed around specific industries, like Houzz for the interior design and house remodeling industry and Avvo for legal services.
Companies focused on finding customers near them must consider their online reputation, ask customers to give them feedback online, and treat this component as a critical extension of their marketing. It’s like word of mouth on steroids. Small businesses that ignore online reviews do so at their peril. Google looks at positive and negative reviews from various rating sites as a rank factor. If you want to be found by customers looking for you online, receiving a consistent flow of positive reviews should be part of your SEO marketing plan.
If you don’t have a strategy for improving your online reputation, you should consult with marketing professionals. We at Buzz Author can help you get started if you’re unsure how to improve your digital status in whatever local community you want customers to find you.
03: There Is Always a Competitive Advantage When You Can Offer More Personal Service
Many large companies are trying to encroach on industries traditionally dominated by smaller locally owned businesses. It is a largescale trend. Unfortunately, some industries will not survive this shift towards wide-scale commoditization.
Even in the shadow of this development, some products and services will be challenging to sell on Amazon. Large corporations will find it tricky to scale production in some highly skilled industries. As professional marketers, some innovators in key trades will always have an advantage when competing at a local level if they can provide a superior experience to their customers.
The Mental Health Services Example
As a digital agency, we focus on helping local therapy clinics here in Utah, where we see the value and importance of marketing at a local level. You may hear advertising for online therapy services now being offered by large corporations. In theory, it is possible to receive mental health services from anyone on the planet through digital technology. However, this is such a specialized skill set; we don’t believe large mental health service companies will fully replace the local clinic.
Helping people heal from emotional trauma and grow at a mental health level is so profoundly personal that the process requires a distinctly private connection. It’s impossible to imagine a large global company replicating what has been typically offered by a highly educated psychologist or licensed social worker working one on one in a room with a client.
Many therapy clinics, including practitioners in similar industries, like medical doctors and psychiatrists, are now offering their patients the option of meeting online. (This is especially useful during the flu season or the period of heightened risk during a global pandemic.) Yet, we believe most people are still looking for a clinician to work with them in person if needed in an emergency. There is an intimacy implied in the local relationship these industries provide.
Don’t Forget to Call
In the age of email and conference calls, it’s easy to forget just how crucial personal connection is. We long for the ability to touch other people. Even if 90% of a business relationship is possible through digital technology, there’s something important about breaking bread with a client, shaking hands, or having met eye-to-eye, at least upon occasion.
We should be cautious in business relationships to not forget an older technology like talking on the telephone. The voice gives you an intimate connection unlike other communication—You can develop a stronger relationship through the voice than through what may seem like comparable messaging methods. It’s always easier to solve problems by talking to someone directly, speaking back and forth with your voice.
It’s easy to accidentally sacrifice this relationship for the convenience of a text message. When we do this too often, we may find our clients hiding concerns from us, not communicating easy-to-solve problems, or changing to another company because they don’t feel appreciated. Sometimes customers need an old-fashioned friend who is willing to listen to the frustration of everyday business challenges.
Make Local Marketing Your First Priority
Because making a personal connection is an essential part of commerce for first-rate companies, investing in the activity of finding local clients through marketing should be most company’s top priority. It will usually be more feasible to maintain an intimate connection with customers who are closer in proximity to you. If a problem arises, you may more easily solve it by driving out to meet them in person.
Once you’ve fully explored the market in your town, you can consider expanding to a more global audience. But it typically makes sense to prioritize your advertising dollars around local customers. The most valuable customers you can acquire for your business’s continued growth and profitability are usually clients who live close by you. If you own a small business in Utah, look at your local digital marketing options first. There are many customers here who may want to buy what you’re selling, and the cost to begin a content marketing campaign can be much smaller for a startup trying to become profitable.
Every company, brand, and industry is different. Some small businesses in Utah want to enter the global market right away. As a general rule, however, it makes sense to target your local community first before marketing your brand to the entire nation or world.