Does a Small Local Business Need Search Marketing?
Often small business owners ask the question “Do I really need to be doing search marketing?”
After all, they reason, “I’m just a local business. Is it really important for me to be visible on the internet, to the whole world?”
And most of all they want to know if search marketing will make a difference in their sales and profits.
The answer to all of these questions is yes, absolutely!
Why Search is Important to Small Local Businesses
Search marketing is even more important to a local business than for a major national brand.
The reason for this is simple. The big brands are well established and well known. They have what’s called brand recognition. People have either used their product or have heard about it, and when they’re ready to buy, they’ll ask for that brand by name.
Once people are familiar with a brand, then their buying decision becomes simpler. If you’re like most people, when you want to buy a cold drink, you’ll ask for Coke or Pepsi, by brand name. You already know what you want.
But for a local business, whether a plumber, dentist or lawyer, or bakery, hardware store, or dance studio, the challenge is that people usually don’t know the name of your business.
Suppose you move and need a new dentist? Or are you in a car crash and need a lawyer? Or do you need some landscaping or just a new place to go out to dinner?
How do you go about finding that dentist, landscaper, or restaurant?
Traditionally, people first try word of mouth. They ask their immediate circle of friends and family if they have any recommendations. They might ask five or ten people about painless dentists or injury lawyers or the best sushi in town, whatever they are looking for.
If they get some recommendations, great. If not, they’ll move on to a wider range of people. Maybe they’ll ask around at work.
Or they might try going online to their social media contacts in the hopes that this bigger group will have some good suggestions.
But depending on the product or service they are looking for, they might not feel so comfortable asking a lot of people, whether in person or on social media. Not everyone wants to put their private issues out there for the world to see.
So while some people might be fine asking their social media contacts about recommendations for a dentist who can do a root canal, others might not want to do this. Other products or services may be even more sensitive.
That’s when most people will turn to a Google search. And even if they did get promising recommendations, they may do a Google search anyway. This way they can check out the websites and reviews of the businesses that were recommended.
And sometimes people are out and about and have a sudden need. They pull up their phones and do a quick search.
Because of these reasons, people are doing local searches in every single city and every single state in the US. The statistics and numbers back up how many people look locally online for a service provider or product: roofer, contractors, builders, painters, house cleaners, car repair, AC repair, lawyers, dentists, doctors, cosmetic surgeons, hairdressers, restaurants, you name it.
People search for anything that’s service based in a local geographic area.
Search Marketing as a Powerful Marketing Strategy
This is why a small business owner would be wise to not limit their advertising to mass market or mass media type of marketing. This includes things like a bus bench or flyers where you’re blanketing the whole area, trying to find those individuals who are interested in your service or product.
Instead, adding search to your marketing strategy is a smart move. Not only because people are searching, but because online search is targeted.
When someone goes online and specifically inputs words related to the product or service they are looking for, that means they are actively looking to buy that particular product or service. They’re not just random passersby who might glance at a flyer and promptly throw it in the trash. They are already primed to purchase what you have to offer.
This means every single business, including local businesses, needs to be doing search marketing. The bulk of new business will come to you through search.
This is how consumers are behaving these days. If their friends make a recommendation, they’ll most likely go online and check out the company or provider. If friends have no recommendations, they’ll go online and search for themselves.
Either way, they’ll be searching. And savvy business owners will include search in their marketing strategies
The other thing to keep in mind about search is it can be tracked. Statistics abound regarding the number of people who search for each keyword. So we can actually measure how many people are searching for any given phrase in every single city, every single month.
Because of this, before we spend one penny, we can evaluate which keywords and phrases make sense to target. We’ll know which ones are most likely to bring in traffic, meaning the people who are already interested in your product or service.
And since your search marketing can be targeted, it is more effective and economical.
It’s all about placing higher in the search rankings, so you are in one of the top spots when someone searches for a product or service like yours. One recent study showed that the top three results in the organic search rankings get 40% of the clicks.
Then when you do end up as one of the first results of a search, you are making it easy for people to learn about you and your brand. You establish yourself as a leader in that area, as credible and trustworthy. And it helps people to find you quickly and easily.
That’s how you build brand awareness.
And once people are familiar with you, and trust you, they are one step closer to buying from you.
If you’re not on the first page of the search results, you’ll be losing out.
Investing in search marketing is relatively cheap compared to other marketing tools, like mass media advertising. And for small local businesses, it’s an investment you can’t afford not to make.
Not if you want your business to grow and thrive.