If you have a local family business that’s been around for a while but has now gotten into trouble or sales are slowing, chances are good that your success came from providing a high level of service and advertising locally via the Yellow Pages and through word of mouth courtesy of your long term clientele.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where change is happening faster and faster, and lots of small family businesses are getting left behind and forgotten.
Engaging in a major marketing push that involves radio, television, and billboards just isn’t in your budget, though, so you’re not sure what to do. How can you remind people that you’re there and attract more sales? In a closely held business change can be difficult, as often the culture is built on relying on the owner’s specific way of doing things. Customers are percieved as the relationship the owner has had with specific clients.
Two simple words: get online.
The internet is ideally suited to help businesses with a lower level of cash flow to get the word out about what they do. In fact, online marketing can be more effective than traditional marketing methods when used corrected. The key is to find a professional who can work with you to create a plan that’s specific to your business and who knows how the market is trending and what the latest techniques are. That consultant must also have experience for facilitating change in a closely held business.The use of Internet Marketing can be the beginning of a new sales strategy, and can affect how the company is organized to serve customers and grow.
Get listed. Research has shown that the overwhelming majority of people don’t really use things like the Yellow Pages anymore. When they want to find a local business, they go online and type their search into Google. What that means for you is that you at least want to make sure that your business can be found on places like:
- Google Places
- UrbanSpoon (for restaurants)
How you list your company can make a difference for how often you are found, so it’s helpful to consult with a professional. Then once it’s up and running, be sure to pay attention to the various directories just in case you receive any customer complaints; it’s always best to respond quickly and kindly so that other potential customers will see that you actually care about their experience.
Create (or update) your website. A website will help potential customers to view you as a legitimate and viable choice, and if you do it well, can become extremely lucrative. You may already have a website, but if you’re interested in expanding your audience, this isn’t enough. You need an SEO (search engine optimization) plan that involves learning the search terms most likely to drive business to your company and figuring out where and how to implement it in conjunction with the site.
The best way to do this is to build the search terms you want into the DNA of the website itself by using the terms in the titles, headings, and subheadings of pages, as well as sprinkling them throughout the body of the content. Doing this makes search engines prioritize your site more, which will cause it to appear higher in search rankings.
Expand your online offerings. Digital marketing can also involve offering downloadable white papers to convert leads, online videos to showcase your expertise, a blog with ongoing content to keep your search rank high, and setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts to increase the number of ways that potential customers can reach you and find out about your content.
Doing this is not only a great way to bring in more business from nearby, but also let customers from around the country and the world to learn about you. Build an online cart and checkout system, and you might find yourself experiencing a nice bump in sales from areas you never would have expected.
The best part is that it costs a lot less to seek out people and engage with them online than it does to market in practically any other medium, and it’s a lot easier to tell if your methods are working or not. If you haven’t looked into internet marketing for your family business, and it’s remaining stagnant or floundering, there’s no time like the present.