Sunday, June 7, 2009

Local Business Owners Face More Marketing Choices

Bringing your local business online - Part 1: Why?

Excerpted from
June 1, 2009 Omaha Internet Examiner by Leslie Clark

The local search space has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past few years as consumers have moved online to find everything from a plumber to a new home. As stated in a SBI+M post, 54% of Americans have substituted the internet and local search for phone books.

I know many local based, brick-and-mortar businesses that are well aware of the fact that they need to move their marketing efforts online - but don't know where to start. Back in the day, you worked with sales and account representatives for buying media and producing new creative for your yellow page, radio, newspaper, direct mail, and (if you were lucky) TV ads.

Now we are in age where social media such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn rule. Tangles of confusing suggestions on how to use AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and adCenter choke forums, blogs, and marketing sites. Online webinars and podcasts give detailed information on how to get useful data and metrics from Google Analytics accounts.

First, you are not alone. Many SMB owners and marketers are not only confused, but very hesitant of putting dollars into a marketing channel they know nothing about. Second, you don't have to do everything. Third, you don't have to do it all at once.

So where do I start? The answer is easy, it is the core of your web presence, your first impression to your potential customers - your website. Not as simple as it sounds, and that is why we are going to cover the website creation process in-depth in my next article - Part 2: The core of your online presence.

My Take

Good summary of the challenges facing small, local business owners as they face confusing new advertising choices.

The stats Clark cites are powerful and indisputable. It is revealing that advertising publishing firms, now in bankruptcy, may still be in denial of their desparate situation.

Consumers are changing the tools they use. Local businesses - and the advertising media that dominated for the past 5 decades - need to adapt.

The ultimate form of advertising may be near - recurring word-of-mouth referrals powered by new, Web based tools. When local businesses can tap their customers' loyalty through social media there will be no turning back.

Looking forward to Part 2.

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