Small business owners have to deal with many unique challenges when trying to showcase their business in today’s competitive market. Join us as we go over some of the most common marketing problems small business owners face, as well as expert tips and resources to fight back.
Top 11 Local Marketing Challenges for Small Businesses
Challenge #1. Attracting new customers
A lot of business owners feel like they’re not getting in front of enough prospects to attract new clients. Don’t worry. Your customers are out there, but you need to develop a strategy and use the right tactics to hook them:
- Define your audience. Targeting an overly broad audience will only dilute your brand message and weaken your value proposition. Instead, identify the specific characteristics of people who are most likely to buy your product or service.
- Create a customer profile. Use the criteria you identified to form a profile of your most promising potential customers.
- Market research. Understand what your target customers’ buying habits are, their preferred channels for finding services (such as Yelp and Nextdoor), and what the competition is doing.
The key to attracting new clients is creating a solid definition of your target customer to help you understand where to find them and how to appeal to them. For more information check out: Complete Guide to Contractor Marketing Planning
Challenge #2. Operating a business that has multiple locations
It can be a challenge to manage how you show up in search results when you have multiple brick-and-mortar locations. This is one of the areas where having a solid, centralized SEO strategy is key:
- Use location-specific pages. Instead of creating a different website for each location, build a primary website for your whole brand that includes links to individual pages for each location.
- Ensure that location-specific pages feature local content, metadata and structured data.
- Create a Google My Business listing for each location and make sure it links to the correct location page.
To learn more about local SEO for small businesses, read: 10 Step Checklist to Improve Your Local SEO.
Pro Tip: Have a single, qualified team in charge of setting up and managing both brand-wide and local SEO. This helps ensure consistency across all locations.
Challenge #3. Operating a business by yourself
When you run a small business, you might feel paralyzed into inaction when it comes to marketing because you don’t know what to do. After all, it’s not the most common skill set. Fortunately, you can meet this challenge by:
- Finding an industry-specific marketing adviser. There’s a lot of conflicting marketing information online. An expert can help you cut through the fog and find the solutions you need.
- Investing in an all-in-one marketing platform. This allows you to manage your digital presence from a single place, instead of getting mixed up in multiple sites each time you want to do something.
By leveraging marketing partners and technology, you can make smart decisions and can get things done to run an effective digital marketing campaign.
Challenge #4. Building an online social presence
Today, consumers have all sorts of different channels and tools to research and compare businesses. To cut through the noise, it’s important to build your online presence. To start making a name for yourself, try these tactics:
- Provide quality content. Don’t chase trends or spam people with irrelevant posts. Create consistent, engaging content that speaks to the needs and interests of your ideal audience.
- Develop your reputation. Stand out to customers by generating and responding to online reviews.
- Actively engage on social media. Make use of industry-specific networks, such as Nextdoor. Seek to build relationships, not just followers.
Pro tip: Remember, as with attracting new customers, you don’t have to be everywhere. You just have to be where your audience can see you. To learn more about building your digital presence, read Good Reviews and How to Get Them.
Challenge #5. Overdependence on referrals from existing customers
Referral marketing can be a powerful tool for small businesses, but it shouldn’t be the only tactic you use. Depending on a single source for new leads is a problem waiting to happen. To diversify:
- Identify channels that your potential customers use to search for businesses like yours and make sure you’re visible on them. This might also include offline channels like local events and trade shows.
- Make strategic use of paid advertising to get your business in front of people who want your products and services.
- Improve your local SEO so that your website is the first thing that shows up when someone searches for businesses like yours in the area.
Creating an Integrated Successful Plan for Home Contractors provides more information on how to develop a well-balanced marketing plan.
Challenge #6. Running effective paid marketing campaigns
A lot of small businesses find it difficult to set up and run a successful paid advertising campaign, such as on Google Ads. This is because they often just create some ad copy and hit go without any real planning. Instead:
- Use Google’s keyword planner to find keywords and phrases that are most relevant to your business.
- Use negative keywords to ensure your ads don’t run for low-quality searches.
- Think like your target audience and write engaging, relevant ad copy that provides an answer to what they’re searching for.
- Enable all available format extensions to help your ad stand out. For instance, connect your Google Ads with your Google My Business account. This will enable things like your star rating to show up directly with your ad.
A great resource to learn more about running an effective paid advertising campaign is: Make Google Work for You: A Local Business Guide to Google Ads.
Challenge #7. Getting past previous agency experiences
Another challenge is working with a marketing agency where the business owner has no control over their marketing and no real insight into performance. Instead, look for an agency antidote like Surefire Local. A worthwhile marketing partner will:
- Pull back the curtain and help you understand how your marketing strategy works.
- Provide you with COMPLETE visibility and clarity into how you get your traffic, leads, and customers.
- Identify what ad campaigns are working and what’s not and help you find industry-specific solutions.
Pro tip: In a good partnership, your marketing strategy is no longer a mystery and you have access to the skills and tools to control your digital presence.
Challenge #8. Measuring and tracking results
A common issue small businesses experience is knowing if their marketing investment is paying off. To tell which channels and tactics are working to drive leads, you need to:
- Decide what the key performance indicators (KPIs) are for your marketing efforts and how you’re going to measure performance.
- Invest in marketing software that includes lead tracking and analytics to help you understand what’s working and what’s not.
Accurate tracking and analytics are what helps you focus on the marketing efforts that are generating the best ROI for your business.
Challenge #9. Generating high-quality leads
As a small business owner, you know how frustrating it is to waste time on bids and quotes for bad leads that don’t end in a sale. To help combat this:
- Incorporate long-tail keywords. These are more detailed phrases about your business, products and services. Put them into ad copy, your website, and social media content to attract a more qualified audience.
- Use negative targeting. This will prevent your ads from showing outside of your service area or to people who don’t fit your target audience profile.
Challenge #10. Lack of budget
If you’re still in the first few years of operation, finding money to market yourself can be a struggle. Fortunately, there are cost-effective marketing options available:
- Claim your business on online directories. These are the digital version of the yellow pages. Signing up on Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, and free local directories increases your visibility– particularly in search results for local businesses both in traditional search (laptop/phone) and voice search (speaking out loud to a digital assistant.
- Leverage online reviews. Let others do your marketing for you. When someone writes a positive review, share it on your social channels. Social proof is a powerful tool, and even better, it’s free!
- Make use of social media. Depending on your industry, social media marketing can be one of the most cost-effective ways to market your business online.
Challenge #11. Lack of time
It can be hard to untangle yourself from current responsibilities to focus on future planning. The most effective ways to make time for marketing are to delegate and automate.
- Delegate some of your more routine daily tasks to employees so that you can focus on marketing. If marketing is not your strong suit, another option is to find someone better equipped for the job – such as a marketing partner.
- Free up time by using marketing automation software to handle routine marketing tasks, such as posting new content or sending out a newsletter.
Overcoming Common Local Marketing Challenges
As you’ve learned, there are several ways that small business owners can deal with common local marketing challenges. Often what’s required is a little planning and making use of the right tools. Here are some additional things to think about as you move forward.
Know the importance of creating and following a local marketing strategy
Developing and implementing a local marketing strategy will help improve both your short term results and your long term performance. Know who your target audiences are, the channels they use, and what tactics are effective to turn them from prospects to sales. A holistic marketing strategy allows you to measure and test the performance of different tactics and channels to further hone your efforts and maximize ROI.
Understand the advantage of using an all-in-one local marketing
Using a piecemeal collection of tools will only result in a headache. In addition to wasting time navigating through multiple sites, there’s no consistency in how each platform gathers data. This means you won’t have accurate information to judge what’s working and what needs to be changed.
With all-in-one local marketing software, you have a single platform from where you can manage all of your digital marketing activities. All the information gathered using the same standards so you can be confident that you’re getting accurate data.
Build a great culture that attracts the best talent
By investing in your employees and providing them with training and support, you’ll build a team that knows how to take your business to the next level. They’ll understand not only how to complete the work, but also how to provide great customer service and effectively market your business every time they interact with a potential client.
Develop marketing skills through education
There is an almost overwhelming amount of opportunities available for you to develop your marketing skills. Seek out sources that speak to the needs of small businesses or offer industry-specific marketing knowledge. For instance, check out the Surefire Local blog and YouTube channel.
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Surefire Local provides local marketing software for small businesses helping them attract customers, grow profits, and maximize efficiency. Through the years, we’ve had the privilege of working with over 3,000 local, small companies, helping them learn how to plan and implement effective digital marketing strategies.
The Surefire Local Marketing Platform makes it easy to take control of your online presence, execute hyper-local digital marketing, manage your online reviews, communicate with your leads and customers, and gain visibility into marketing channels that are driving business.