I spend a lot of time advising small businesses on strategic development and the items that are so desperately needed are often not present before we begin. Most businesses owners understand the basic premise of social media marketing, which is connecting your company’s online presence on social networking sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter) is more effective than the most dynamic SEO website. Consequently, many of the basic elements are not available for immediate analysis which means we often spend less time on strategy development.
However, there are some valuable opportunities for business owners to execute surprisingly easy strategies that haven’t been widely adopted that are more effective for many professionals. Lets start you on a path that is the opposite of your competitors. While the competition is updating Facebook, LinedIn and Twitter you’ll be doing something different. Ready? Here are five strategies that greatly help your business – opportunities that are fairly new and will make your service or storefront more relevant in a rapidly growing field.
1. Claim your business profile on Yelp. An absolute must if you have a storefront or office! Get on Yelp today, better yet – right now! I know you’re asking “why?”And I’m going to tell you. Yelp has a great mobile app that has grown to be very popular for finding products and services especially when you’re on the road. Start using this app and you’ll find that it’s faster and easier to use than other apps. By claiming your business profile you’re making your hours of operation, contact number, and location instantly available to the large, and growing, number of Yelp users.
When you create an account and claim your business you’ll be able to interact with all Yelp users. Also, you’ll receive free swag that enables you to display in your storefront window, or add to widgets to your website so you may cross-link your location and website to its Yelp listing. Yelp doesn’t leave out the non-storefront businesses, you are able to list up to 5 different locations you serve. Finally, do NOT neglect reviews. You’re business is local and has much knowledge that would be value to share through comments on relevant businesses.
2. Improve your business search results with a listing on Google Places. More times than I can count I’ve had the inability to contact a business from their business listing on Google. This is largely due to inaccurate information within the listing. This should not happen. Google now offers greater weight to local results through Google Places. How do you get your listing? First, begin with Googling your business name. You’ll need to locate your business on the Google map for location. In order to claim the location you will need a Google account. That’s it! Now fill your listing with lots of valuable information about your business.
A business that is listed on Google Places will automatically be bumped up in your search results. These steps will allow you to correct any misplacement of your store location on GoogleMaps therefore pointing customers the right direction. Finally, you can use this strategy to hide your business by uploading a P.O. Box for the street address which is great if you’re working from home and would like to keep your residence private.
3. Engage with other experts in your field on Quora. Quora.com operates on the premise: concise answers to specific questions should be easily found online. Without all the jazz and hype, Quora is succeeding in this direction. With a simple user interface and a welcoming community of experts, relevant questions are asked and answered by industry leaders.
As with all social networking sites, it may take some time to become familiar with the interface and how to execute desired movements, but once you’re comfortable you’ll find it to be a a great way to share and grow your knowledge. Sites like Quora will keep you on the pulse of your industry through collective knowledge.
4. Big value with very small cameras. If you want to boost your online presence you’ll need two things: a smart phone and a video camera. Luckily, in many cases you can combine the two. Whether you’re using your iPhone 4, a Flip camera, or something else, the simplicity and size will enable you to create short, fun videos on topics that your customers find interesting. If you don’t know what they find interesting, ask. Remember to upload these videos to YouTube, your website, blog, Facebook Page and because the technology is simplified you’re able to do it in a manner of minutes from creation.
Do you run when looking into a lens? An important element to note is the optimal length for these videos are from 2 – 5 minutes. Use this time-limit to say something concise and relevant and always sign-off with your who you are, and who you’re with and where they can connect with you. You can have short conversations with colleagues about industry-related issues; promote local festivals and events; advertise new products and services when they are available. Take advantage of the human element of marketing and give your brand a human voice.
5. Join or create a group for local events on Meetup. If you regularly hold informational meetings about your business, consider expanding your reach by listing them on Meetup.com. And if you want to network with others in your area with similar interests, you are most likely to find them on Meetup. Unlike most tools mentioned so far, Meetup results in actual face-to-face meetings with like-minded people from your own area. It gives event planners the tools to set maximum attendance levels, send out reminders before the meeting, and easily keep in touch with group members.
Conventional wisdom points us towards blogs, Facebook, and LinkedIn as important tools for our businesses. But these are not for everyone and the fact of the matter is you’ll need to take these technologies in stride with your business. These items listed above are not options that require the agonizing evaluation of resources, rather they are important in the foundation of your online brand.
You’ve run out of excuses. On your mark, get set, GO!