Social media made simple for small local businesses

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Lately, I’ve been showing many of my clients how to take advantage of social media to promote their businesses and increase sales at little or no cost.

Most of them are excited about the prospect of spending little if anything to reap a lot.  Most of them are also surprised at just how effective this marketing method is, even if the business being promoted is a small, independently owned local business that doesn’t do anything – as yet- on the internet.

I’ve made a list of their most frequent questions with my answers below to help other small businesses who’ve been looking for ways to develop new profit streams.

Question 1:
Why should I use social media marketing?

Answer:
There are a number of reasons:

  1. more and more people are searching online for what they want even if they’re purchasing locally
  2. social media is virtually free
  3. you can achieve frequency and exposure a lot more easily with social media than traditional advertising

Question 2:
My business is a one location operation and I don’t even have a web site, so how would social media marketing benefit me?

Answer:

Not a problem.  First, you can quickly use social media without necessarily having a fancy web site.  Open accounts in your business name on Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo, MySpace, Hub Pages and any other social platform that appeals to you.

Also consider setting up a blog as an alternative to a traditional web site. There are plenty of free blogging platforms such as Blogger.com and WordPress.org that  offer easy to set up templates under their domain. Or you can set up a self hosted blog using WordPress software from WordPress.org.

These all offer free ‘pages’ that you can populate with information about your business, products and services.  Keep them updated on a regular basis with information of interest to your market and any special promotions you might have.

Question 3:
I don’t have the time or the expertise to set up a web site and I’m not sure I have the time or expertise to set up social pages or blogs either.

Answer:
You don’t need to have any special expertise.  It does take a little time and patience to set up an internet presence, no matter how simple, but it is something you can get someone else to do for you – perhaps someone in your family has a little spare time, or perhaps one of your staff members may have an interest in helping you this way.  If you are serious about making use of alternative marketing methods and are on a tight budget, it’s imperative to begin using these tools.  And really, they’re easy.  If you can read and surf the internet, you can do it!

Question 4:
I don’t want to market to the world, just to the people in my town, how can this help me?

Answer:
That’s fine.  You can use the same social marketing techniques that are used by non-geographic specific businesses.  By creating and joining locally based social media groups, listing in local directories, classifieds and other geographic specific media, you will drive local traffic to your internet presence.  In fact, if you want to use paid advertising, you can make use of geographic specific adwords.

The fact is that although your business may be exposed further afield than you require, you’re not paying for exposure, so the ‘wasted’ exposure doesn’t cost you anything.

In addition to all these good reasons for using social media, there’s another very important reason.  In addition to your own customer database and email list – which, by the way is your most valuable asset – social media allows you to develop a targeted opt in email and mailing list very quickly.

Expanding your reach within your local area used to depend on activities such as:

  • direct response mail into the neighbourhood
  • advertising in local publications
  • word of mouth referrals
  • outdoor advertising
  • passing traffic

Now, by making yourself accessible and visible online, you can develop capture contact details for new prospects by offering an opt in reward, such as a newsletter, gift certificate or other tangible reason for people to give you this information.

The larger your targeted and qualified list, the more sales you’re likely to make when you promote to this list.

If you’d like to explore your social media opportunities, please email me for a no obligation consultation at Jackie@jackiecooperwriter.com.

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