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Mobile Integrated Into Marketing Strategy = Success & Increased Revenue, Part IV June 6, 2010

Posted by StrategicGrowth in local marketing strategies, marketing strategies, mobile, mobile coupons, Mobile Marketing, Strategic Growth Concepts.
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6 comments

Part IV – Using Mobile for Local Business Development

In Part I of our multi-part Mobile Marketing series we learned that Mobile Marketing is most effective when incorporated into an overall marketing strategy, and used as a supplement to the mediums you are already using. 

In Part II of our series we discussed a variety of low-cost or no-cost methods of Mobile Marketing that a small business can utilize to promote their firm. 

In Part III of our series we reviewed a wide range of Mobile Marketing case studies that showcase the ways in which Mobile Marketing is being utilized by both large and small businesses.

Now, in Part IV of our series on Mobile Marketing, we’re going to look more specifically at the ways to effectively utilize it to promote your firm within a specific local marketing area.

As you know from reading the earlier segments of our series, mobile phone advertising is quickly becoming a key component in large business marketing campaigns – large companies are definitely the early adopters of the technology. And since billions of people use cell phones every day, and over 12 billion text messages are sent every month in the US, the reasons for big business adoption of the technology are clear. However, Mobile Marketing can be even MORE effective for small local businesses once they understand how to use it effectively.

One of the reasons many small business owners give me for not using Mobile Marketing, is their belief that they will be sending messages to lots of people outside their market area who will never have need for their product or service, and because so many people are thought to be receiving their messages, they assume it will be extremely expensive.  However, THEY COULDN’T BE MORE WRONG!

A primary advantage to using Mobile Marketing is its ability to very specifically target your messages to only those you want to receive them according to very specific demographic criteria.  Remember, Mobile Marketing is an ‘opt-in’ medium.  Once someone has opted in to your list, you can segment them according to whatever criteria is most effective to you in marketing your business.  The more information you gather about them, the more information you can use to target them specifically.

Let’s say you run a small ice cream shop or a family-owned restaurant and your customer database includes information on the names, ages and birthdates of your customer’s kids. How about sending coupons for a free cone or a free kid’s dinner on each of your customer’s kid’s birthdays via SMS messaging? Or if you run a beauty salon, or work for a doctor’s office, how about sending text message reminders about upcoming appointments in order to cut down on your ‘no shows’?

This form of personal contact is perfect for any type of service business. If you run a massage parlor or day spa, consider sending discounts or coupons to your customers on their anniversaries, birthdays or other special occasions.

If you run a woman’s clothing store, you can suggest that your customers fill out a card asking to be notified when particular new items in their preferred style, size, brand arrive in inventory; then you can text them when those items arrive. Or you can send an offer for an inventory close-out sale for current customers only when you’re getting ready to change seasonal inventory.

If you’re a toy store at Christmas and you manage to get a shipment of the ‘must have toy of the season’ that everyone is clamoring for and can’t find anywhere, don’t you think a text message to your existing customers will result in their IMMEDIATE presence in your store when you send a text telling them you have the item in stock but supplies are limited and likely to be gone by tomorrow?  AND, don’t you think they’ll be extremely grateful for the information and likely to think of your store first the next time they need a hard-to-find toy item?

The possibilities are really endless when you think about ways to increase your contact with customers via Mobile technology.  Mobile Marketing allows you to provide a much higher level of customer service to your clients, as well as developing creative, cost-effective ways to obtain new clients.  View Local Mobile Marketing examples in our Flickr stream.

Mobile phone advertising can also become an extremely inexpensive form of viral marketing if you indicate in your text message that the offer is good for any friend or family member that your customer forwards the text message to. A modern version of “I told two friends…and they told two friends…,” the possibilities for your business are seemingly limitless.

Whether you run a storefront or a service business, viral mobile phone advertising is a great way to fill in slow periods throughout the week your company may be having. Suppose you run a cleaning service and your Wednesdays are typically slow; consider sending a text message to your database of customers who may not have used your services for awhile, offering a discount on a whole house cleaning to anyone who responds within the next 3 hours – or to make it competitive, indicate that the first person to respond will receive 1 month worth of whole house cleaning services.  This will get those who haven’t thought of your business in a while thinking about it again – even if they don’t win the contest, and the next time they need cleaning service, they’ll likely call you.

Try to make your offers fun and appealing so your customers will pass them on to friends and family; this will help to build your ‘opt-in’ list so more people will receive future messages from you. A small bit of creativity together with a commitment to offering a personal touch through Mobile Marketing will really set you above your competition in your customer’s minds.

If you would like to learn how Mobile Marketing can be used effectively with strategies for your specific business, please contact Strategic Growth Concepts via our website or email us directly at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com .  Our strong relationships with a wide variety of mobile services providers insures that we will be able to find the right solution for your business, and work with you to develop an exciting Mobile Marketing campaign that will generate interest in your business and revenue for your company.

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The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses.  Linda is a recognized small business marketing expert with 20+ years experience in a variety of industries including: wireless, retail, chemical distribution, residential and commercial contracting, automotive aftermarket, personal services, shopping center development/management, and entertainment facilities management.  Linda is available for consultation and can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com. The company website can be viewed at http://www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

3 Local Marketing Initiatives with Higher ROIs November 20, 2009

Posted by StrategicGrowth in marketing strategies, Strategic Growth Concepts, Web 2.0.
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2 comments

With most small businesses today seeking every low or no-cost marketing option they can find to promote their products and services, the publishers of this blog are constantly in search of information about new resources that can help.  As we have discussed in many previous articles, many Web 2.0 options abound to help businesses promote themselves, but most are unable to concentrate your firm’s efforts on your specific geographic area – at least not easily.  However, the following tools are ideal for promoting your business within your specific geographic region to insure that those potential customers closest to you are well aware of your existance and what you have to offer.

Take advantage of these tools that any small business can use to promote your business within your local community.

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Forget the Phonebook: 3 Local Marketing Initiatives with Higher ROIs

Gregory Go (Wise Bread), Nov 12, 2009 –

The phonebook is so 1998. Few people use it anymore, and yet in an ironic twist, advertising in the phonebook has become more expensive as telcos try to boost revenues. Don’t play their game.

Boost the ROI of your advertising budget by switching your local marketing focus to the following 3 websites.

The basic strategy for each of the following options is two-fold:

  1. The first step — making sure you are listed and have accurate info — is free for all three of the following sites. It’s equivalent to making sure your phone number and address is accurate in the free, basic listing in the phonebook.
 
  2. The second step — buying advertising — is equivalent to buying an ad in the phonebook. Versus the phonebook, you’ll get more reach and better tracking data, which helps ensure you maximize your local advertising ROI.

1. Yelp!

Yelp is the premier review site for local businesses. Consumers love it because it lets them easily share their thoughts on local service providers and retail outlets, and in return, get honest reviews of local businesses from their peers. Businesses love Yelp — honest, reputable businesses, at least — because businesses that receive positive reviews see dramatic increases in referral customers.

Start here.

Step 1: Control Your Listing (and Get Stats)

Yelp provides business owners that have “unlocked” their pages with lots of value-added features including messaging options (eg., post offers and announcements, reply to reviewers) and stats on how many people have viewed your business page. Check out this page for a screenshot of the business dashboard you’ll have access to as the owner of the business.

The biggest benefit of taking control of your Yelp page is being able to highlight positive reviews of your business and/or responding to reviewers privately.  However, don’t think that just because Yelp is willing to take your money that it means they will take down negative reviews of your business.  They won’t, unless it violates review guidelines (eg., contains racial slurs or is second-hand information).  As a good business owner, you should take comfort in this policy, because it means your less scrupulous competitors won’t be able to hide their shady practices for long.

Step 2: Buy Advertising

Yelp offers two advertising options for increasing your exposure:

  1. Top placement in search results.
  2. Showcasing your business on a similar business’ page.

You can see screenshots of both options here.  Pricing varies based on your city, business category, and number of impressions you want to buy.  You can talk details and pricing with a Yelp sales representative by filling out this form and waiting for a callback.

2. Google Local

Start here.

When consumers search for a local business or a local service (eg., “thai food”, “dry cleaner”) on Google, a small map and some business results appear at the top of the search results (screenshot).  Additionally, you get a business details page that can contain information like your phone number, email address, store hours, accepted payment types, photos and videos, and service or product categories (screenshot).

Step 1: Take Control of Your Listing (and Get Stats)

Adding business details and creating coupons is completely free on Google. Start by claiming your business at Google’s Local Business Center. Once you’ve verified your ownership, you can start adding details and creating coupons that will appear on your business details page.

Here’s where Google Local become more exciting than the phonebook. On your Google local business dashboard (screenshot), you can see what search phrases people are typing in to find your business and where those searchers are located on a map (abstracted to a zip code level to protect searchers’ privacy).

Click here for more information on Google’s Local Business Center features.

Step 2A: Buy AdWords Ads

AdWords is the program where advertisers bid on search keywords and have their links appear next to or on top of search results.  While the AdWords program is not specifically geared towards a local market, as an advertiser, you can limit where your ad appears based on the searcher’s location.

You buy AdWords ads by bidding on how much you’re willing to pay for clicks on your ad.  Your ads appear on search results for your targeted keywords (ie., phrases people type into the search box).  The more popular keywords (eg., “thai food”) will cost more per click than more obscure keywords (eg., “pad thai”).  

Balancing the cost per click versus the popularity (reach) of keywords is what makes AdWords advertising a bit tricky.  It does take quite a bit of management to maximize your ROI. Fortunately, Google allows you to set spending limits so you don’t blow your monthly budget, and offers plenty of tools and resources to help you manage your AdWords campaigns.

Managing an AdWords campaign is beyond the scope of this article, but here are some resources to get you started:

Step 2B: Buy Local Ad Listings

These are a new type of ads Google is selling specifically for local businesses.  They are currently available only in San Fransisco and San Diego.  To get a notice when they are rolled out to your area, fill out this form.

The difference between Local Ad Listings and AdWords is that you don’t have to bid for keywords or do any fancy campaign management.  Google charges a flat monthly rate for these ads, and shows them on local searches at the top of search results (screenshot) and in Google Maps (screenshot). 

The rate depends on your city and business category.  Rates are offered after you’ve claimed your small business listing in step 1.  Once you’ve claimed your local business and Google has rolled out these ads to your city, you will see a new “Ads” tab in your business dashboard.

An advantage of the Local Ad Listing — in addition to having your business appear prominently on related searches — is the call tracking.  When someone calls the phone number listed on your Local Ad Listing, the call is forwarded to regular phone number, and when you pick up, you will hear a short “this call is from Google” message. Counting up the number of calls you receive from your local Google ad, you can then determine if the monthly fee is worth the number of new leads you receive.

3. Yahoo Local

Start here.

Step 1: Claim or create your Yahoo Local listing

Just like Yelp and Google Local, you can claim your Yahoo Local business listing for free.  Claiming or creating the listing will allow you to enter additional information and keep your business details up-to-date.

The first step is to create a Yahoo login.  If you already have a Yahoo email address, you can use that login account to manage your local business listing.  If you already have a Yahoo account, login to your account.  If you don’t already have one, you can sign up for a Yahoo account here (it’s free).

Start by doing a search for your business at Yahoo Local.  If your business already has a listing, click on the “edit info” link on the details page.  Your business will then be linked to your Yahoo account, and when you go to listings.local.yahoo.com, you can click on the “Local Listings Account Center” link in the upper right hand corner to see all your business listings.

If your business is not yet listed, go to listings.local.yahoo.com and click on the “Sign Up” button. You will be presented with a form to fill out your business details like address, phone number, service description, and hours of operation.

For more information about Yahoo Local Listings, check out the help page for Yahoo Local Listings or visit the start page for Yahoo Local Listings.

Step 2: Upgrade to an Enhanced or Featured Listing

And just like the other options, Yahoo offers premium listings that you can purchase to give your business more prominence.  Yahoo Local offers two levels of premium listings: Enhanced or Featured.

An Enhanced Listing costs $9.95 per month.  You get to add up to 10 photos, a longer description of your business, and stats on how often people see and click on your listing.

A Featured Listing puts your business in the sponsored results section of Yahoo search results.  Pricing ranges from $15-$300 per month depending on the size of your city and demand for your service.  Click here to view current pricing details.

Check out this page for a comparison of features for the Basic, Enhanced, and Featured Listings.