Tools to Market Your Business Online Locally

Local search is an inexpensive way to get your business found by prospective customers. In the world of the online business, traffic to your website is the most valuable of assets. And in today’s tight economy, business owners are constantly looking for more efficient ways to market their products or services without breaking the bank. One of the most effective ways to market your business online is locally. People tend to trust local businesses more than they do, for example, one on the other side of the globe. Local marketing online is one of the most cost-efficient yet easy methods of which to market on the Internet. And because most companies already have a web site and a blog, local marketing is easier than ever.

Top 10 Tips for Marketing your Business Locally:

1. Merchant Circle – Claim Your Profile on Merchant Circle. If your business is not already listed on Merchant Circle, sign up and within 5 minutes, you can get your business more exposure on the Internet. Be sure to include correct and relevant information such as your legal business name, street address, hours of operation, and business categories. Categories are important because they help ensure your listing is found easier by searching customers. Add deals and promotions to your Merchant Circle listing. Deals include coupons, sales and offers and are a fantastic way to encourage browsing customers to visit your website.

2. Google Places – Claim your business on Google Local Business Center. In a previous blog entry, we outlined the steps necessary to get your business listed on Google Places for free. 97% of consumers search for local businesses online and because the power of Google, many of your potential customers could be looking for the products and services that you offer online at Google Places. Be there when they’re looking for you with Google Places for business. Again, this is a free local platform from Google.

Help your business stand out by adding photos, videos, and offers to show customers why they’ll want to choose you. Display special promotions, post live updates, and respond to reviews from your Places for business account.

3. Yahoo Local – Claim your business on Yahoo Local. Potential customers from your area visit Yahoo! Local every day and could be searching for your products and services. Yahoo Local is easy to setup and gives you the ability to add descriptive information about your business and upload images from your computer. It is simple to manage. You do not have to bid on keywords and you can edit your listing at your convenience, twenty-four hours a day.

These are the building blocks of getting your business found online. These top three sources of website traffic are easy to use and- best of all – they are free.

Next, we will detail some other strategies for building visibility to your business online. Some of them are free, and some of them require an initial deposit to get started. But all of these sources are excellent ways of which to build website traffic, which as we all know equates to more sales!

4. City Search – Add a Business Listing. If you cannot find your business and your business isn’t listed on CitySearch, you can add your business to their directory by completing this form. You need a CitySearch account to submit a new business to them.

5. Local.com – Add a Local.com Business Listing. Setting up your free Local.com business listing is quick and easy and takes just a few simple steps. Get started by entering your business information, preview your listing and edit it with details and special offers to enhance your visibility.

6. MapQuest – Promote your business with MapQuest. The MapQuest Local Business Center listing is free. You can add your business listing within minutes to MapQuest.com by creating a MapQuest Merchant Account. MapQuest powers local search for all AOL properties. You can also buy advertising on MapQuest that gets seen on Yahoo, Yelp and SuperPages business directories.

7. SuperPages – Also called SuperMedia – and is an excellent resource for business owners looking to gain instant access to the millions of potential customers that view the SuperPages business listings each month.

8. YellowBook360 – With a YellowBook360 listing, you are adding your business to one of the top 50 Internet properties on the web. Put your business in more places and reach more customers with YellowBook360.

9. YellowPages.com – The tried and true method of adding your business to the YellowPages is still a strong business strategy. YellowPages has re-branded their business and is now called YP.com, but make no mistake, this directory is still as solid a business investment as ever. Your business can advertise with premium ads and if you are just getting started or are on a strict marketing budget, YP.com offers free business listings.

10. Yelp.com – This website has grown into one of the fastest expanding user communities for reviewing and researching local businesses. Businesses can advertise on Yelp.com with any size budget. Yelp is an excellent website for advertisers to reach an actively engaged audience.

By incorporating each of these steps into your local marketing strategy, you can build a more successful business. Look at these steps and follow through with each one, as your budget allows, and in time you will see more traffic to your website, which will result in more business and sales.

Starting to get the picture? Yeah, you can build traffic, visibility and sales! Give yourself every advantage. Give yourself a better chance to achieve success on-line.

Oh, and don’t forget – go green with green website hosting.

Developing Attitude and Knowledge

It seems that everyone is seeking the magic potion that will open doors to wealth, success and happiness for their fledgling business and ultimately, for themselves. In this challenging economy, who can fault them? But what is the real key to making your mark in business – today or any day? And what are your greatest challenges? You might be surprised.

Gaze into a mirror and consider the image reflected back to you. This is your greatest advocate; the one you can truly rely upon to make your business work. This is your greatest asset; the one whose knowledge and experience will navigate the tumultuous waters ahead. But most importantly, this is your greatest hurdle; the critical factor that will determine whether your business will succeed or fail.

For many, their enthusiasm to achieve their delicious vision of wealth and freedom encourages them to gloss over the challenges that mark the path ahead. They might even give in to the temptation to overestimate their abilities in an effort to walk the path to abundance. But enthusiasm withers in overwhelm and the struggling new business crumbles as they implement a highly successful strategy to sabotage their own success: missing deadlines and withdrawing from communication, ultimately destroying their business from the inside out.

So what, then, is the best strategy to build and grow a successful business? It’s the same strategy needed to advance in the conventional business world: knowledge, skill, dedication and a winning attitude.

Most entrepreneurial businesses are launched on a shoestring and the business owner does it all. Since you, the business owner, are an employee of the company, you must first assess whether you possess the knowledge and experience to undertake the responsibilities you will assume.

Fill out a job application for your business. Include your education, your interests and what makes you the right person for the job. Be completely honest and do your best job to sell yourself to your prospective employer, you. Set the application aside for a few days and schedule a time for the “interview.”

Undertake the interview just as you would for a second party applicant. Be critical of your qualifications. Do you have the right education and practical experience? How about attitude… is this the right face, voice and personality to promote your new business? Take note of those areas that you had to “fluff” or where your training and experience are obviously deficient and devise a program to obtain that knowledge.

Consider devoting several days or weeks to avid internet research and combing the tomes of your local library. This form of self-improvement allows you to work at your own pace and at little or no cost. You might even find an online group that offers networking opportunities for practical application of theoretic principals It is a valuable educational opportunity for the fledgling business owner and could open doors to future expansion.

Local colleges offer affordable classes in a conventional setting. Many night and weekend classes are available to accommodate the busy professional. One of the most valuable aspects of pursuing college courses is the ability to network with others who are pursuing higher education. Instructors and classmates can even become business counselors, potential partners and employees once your business gets off the ground.

Many colleges also provide intensive training sessions over two or three weekends that teach bookkeeping, computer applications and other common business skills. These courses target the working professional and small business owner, and instructors are sometimes professionals working in the local business arena. This is another excellent networking opportunity to find a mentor or collaborative voice in your new venture.

Bookstores and the internet are laden with self-study opportunities, many of which are offered with a money-back guarantee. With these materials you can learn computer applications, pursue grant opportunities, and even hone sales, marketing and a wide array of other valuable business skills. These sources allow you to study at your own pace in the convenience of your own home.

How are you at multitasking? Entrepreneurs must multitask, performing fiscal, sales, marketing and public relations duties as well as developing product and fulfilling orders in a timely fashion. It is a daunting undertaking! Are you well financed or able to bring in a partner? Can you afford to hire and direct a qualified person to fill the voids? If the answer is “no,” does this mean you should abandon your plan altogether? Not at all!

To succeed in business – as in life – you must believe in yourself. Consider some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs such as Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Martha Stewart and Larry Ellison. These individuals have invested years to develop the knowledge, skill and attitude to succeed in business. They’ve weathered setbacks and applied the lessons to avoid pitfalls as they rebuilt their empires.

The common thread in all of these and other renowned professionals is their unwavering belief in themselves. These people understand the psychology of business, believe wholeheartedly in their product or service, and convince their target audience that their lives will be richer as a result of the association.

Knowledge and attitude are critical to success. Believe in yourself, believe in your product and believe that you are the best at what you do. If you can convince yourself, you can surely convince the rest of the world.

Do You Know What Your Business Cards REALLY Say? (Part One)

Did you know that a significant key to your success could be as easy to find as your business cards?

Actually, what I’m referring to more specifically is what’s printed ON your business cards.

I’ve heard branding experts say that the least expensive form of advertising is a business card, yet most professionals don’t see their card as advertising and therefore they skimp on it by creating a home-made card and/or using one that is very generic that does not set them apart from the hundreds or thousands of professionals in the same field. This can actually damage their credibility. I have to say that I completely agree with this statement.

Let me explain.

I go to a lot of networking meetings. I believe they are critical to my business. Even when I’m not at a meeting, I’m always in networking mode and never go anywhere without my business cards. In addition, I ask for the cards of others whom I meet whether I’m at a networking meeting or simply out and about. The truth is that there is never a time when we are not “on duty” where our businesses are concerned. You might meet that next important contact at a meeting you attend or perhaps through a casual conversation you have with someone while running errands.

So, needless to say, I collect TONS of cards in a very short period of time on a regular basis and this requires a frequent effort to sort and organize these cards. The sad thing is that every time I sit down to go through my recently accumulated cards, I end up throwing away many of them!

One reason for this is a lack of identity on these cards.

The most common mistake that most people make about their business card is that they don’t create their own identity.

It’s amazing to me how many people THINK they are running a serious business and yet are not marketing themselves properly using the least expensive, most used and most circulated tool that they have available to them. When I see a business card where someone has created an identity using AOL, Yahoo or Google instead of using their business as their identity and that has no website listed, I become very curious.

I wonder if this entrepreneur has any idea about the importance of branding; I wonder if this entrepreneur is aware that they can easily and inexpensively get a domain name. I also wonder if they are serious about their business or if it’s simply more of a hobby for them. The question about a hobby versus a business is a critical one because it’s basically asking whether the business is credible or not and if they take their business seriously enough for me to invest my time and money into it.

This question alone can make or break a business; if too many people feel this way, they won’t buy from you or desire your services and therefore your business will struggle to bring in revenue.

There is a concept of branding that I see many entrepreneurs overlook or perhaps simply don’t understand and that is how branding helps to create our uniqueness. If you are trying to differentiate yourself from others, you absolutely need to have a look that identifies YOU, not a template that hundreds of others–even others in a completely different industry are using.

Your Action Plan For The Week:
1.Pick up a domain name! You can use my affiliate link here if you do not already have an account with someone.
2. Create an email account for your new domain name
3. If you already have a domain name and are using it, stay tuned for next week’s article on the second biggest mistake that people make when it comes to their business card!

Make SURE that one side of your business card clearly shows your website (if you don’t have one, then you have another critical task to complete) and that your email address is listed as your name @ your business.com.

We’re here to help you focus on the best way to market yourself, call for a free discovery session and see how! If you need a referral to a branding expert, contact us through our website CamposCoaching.com and we can give you some names to some great branding experts!