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The days of effective classified ads and radio spots are over. Traditional media is expensive, archaic, and it no longer reaches the massive audiences that it once commanded. Putting your hard-won marketing budget into traditional media spots is a waste of your budget, and even high-budget enterprise businesses use TV and radio advertisement for little more than brand awareness. For the best return on your marketing dollar, and to create a lasting marketing strategy that can propel your brick and mortar business onward, you need a cohesive and aggressive internet marketing strategy.
Driving Foot Traffic
For many brick-and-mortar businesses, success starts and ends with foot traffic. Retail storefronts, restaurants, and even some service businesses – all depend on daily foot traffic to fill their stores and their seats. Internet marketing can be invaluable to ensuring that you have a steady stream of customers, even during non-peak times.
- Encourage Reviews – The #1 thing that all business owners should do is encouraging customers to leave positive reviews on whatever sites they frequent. More than 80% of all restaurant visitors have visited Yelp at some point, and tons of people are convinced to visit restaurants based on reviews that were left on Opentable, Yelp, or Google. Encouraging your happy customers to leave reviews can be done with as little as a suggestion during a sale, a note on a receipt, or an incentive like a future coupon. Happy customers sometimes have to be reminded to leave a review, as studies show that dissatisfied patrons are more likely to share their opinions on social media, and this could disproportionately affect the public perception of your business.
- Localized Advertisement – One of the most effective ways for brick and mortar businesses to increase foot traffic is through geo-targeted advertisements. Many new advertising companies are taking advantage of enhanced targeting on mobile devices to send coupons, messages, and advertising to people as they are walking or driving near targeted businesses.
Local businesses survive through loyalty and community engagement, especially since their relatively limited scale might make it difficult to compete on price alone. Internet marketing can be used to create a community around a brand, setting up some of your most loyal customers to act as disciples for your business. Something as simple as a moderated forum can give your customers a place to connect and can let you organize your fans for events and promotions.
As an added benefit, giving your customers a forum or message board to communicate directly with your business can help keep some criticism out of the public light, giving you a chance to fix problems and make customers happy before they go elsewhere to leave negative reviews.
Deals and Special Offers
Everyone loves a deal, and the breakaway success of Groupon and other daily deal sites shows that deals can be a powerful motivator for people to try local businesses that they might not have otherwise thought to go to. Not every business actually benefits from offering deals, you want to break even on the initial deal while encouraging customers to come back for repeat business in the future.
Expanding your Market
Internet marketing allows even the most local of businesses to immediately sell to a national market. A Mom-and-Pop small-town store can set up an online storefront to sell their goods all over the world, and this can allow you to keep your customers even if they move away from your shop. One example of a successful integration of e-commerce with super-local businesses is the Nick Tahoe’s chain in Rochester. People all over the country order the famous Nick-Tahoe’s sauce online when they move away out of nostalgia, even though Tahoe’s does almost no advertising online other than a small order form on their site.
Crush the Competition
Internet marketing, for a minimal investment, can give you a return that is many times what you would receive through other marketing channels. If you are the first business in your industry to expand into the online marketplace, you are in a perfect position for success. Don’t let your competitors beat you into the future of marketing, make it a point to create an internet marketing strategy this year.