If you are a small business owner, you may feel dwarfed by big national brands, uncertain how you can compete with their purchasing power and brand recognition. But you have a distinct advantage: your local community, which will support your business, given the right combination of product quality and excellence in service.
Telling your neighbors where you are and what you offer is another challenge. Overcome that hurdle with a well-crafted online presence and by networking with local media. Your neighbors will not only know who you are, but they will patronize your business because the community has built you up.
Keep Your Website Up to Date
When it comes to Google, local means local. Simple proximity between your business and someone searching online is a big factor in where you will rank in search results. Set up a Google My Business page and keep the information consistent with your website. Always update your correct business name, physical address and local phone number and keep it the same as that on your social media pages, especially Facebook and Twitter.
Encourage Local Reviews
Major search engines prioritize businesses with reputations. When you search for nearby restaurants, Google puts eateries with reviews at the top of the page. Encourage your existing customers to review your business on sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor. Focus on providing great customer service and tell your customers to share their opinions, whatever they may be, online. Don’t know how to ask? Put a Yelp logo on your site or put the message “Share your experience online” at the bottom of your menus.
Engage With the Media
Your neighborhood is served by big websites and major television stations. But don’t discount the power of bloggers and community publications. These have significant followings and are trusted by your customers as knowledgeable about the neighborhood and its popular culture.
When you launch, send a press release to these smaller outlets. On an ongoing basis, link your company to viral news stories people like to read. Perhaps give away free donuts on National Donut Day or develop your own unique event. If you own a food truck, pitch a segment to the local television station during which you make your specialty dish.
Local usually means a five-mile radius. That’s a small neighborhood, but a huge resource for possible sales. Build your reputation with the tools your potential customers are already using to find small businesses: major search engines and the opinions of their neighbors. Over time, more and more people will stop and walk in when they come across your sandwich sign propped up on the sidewalk.