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Marketing your small business on a shoestring

Posted date:
12/05/2015
Author:
Nick Lembo, Manager, Public Relations and Local Business Outreach - Australia/New Zealand

Digital marketing

Digital marketing can be a tricky proposition for small businesses. You might be working on a tight (or non-existent!) budget. You are likely to be competing with larger businesses who dominate search engine results. Developing your business’s own website can be an expensive proposition and the return on investment may be difficult to measure. You may be wondering whether it’s worth advertising online and, if so, in what form?

These are real challenges. One of the best ways for small business owners to sidestep these issues and reach potential customers is to optimise their presence on social media and review sites. That’s because these sites let consumers post about anything, including their experiences with local businesses, and have made the consumer voice stronger than ever. Many sites out there, Yelp included, offer free tools so your business can get the online exposure it needs in a cost-effective way.

Here are a few tips for business owners looking to get the most out of social media and review sites.

  1. Update your information. Your number one priority should be to claim your page or profile and make sure the information that is listed about your business is correct and relevant. Considering that 78% of people turn to review sites like Yelp to find local businesses and most Yelp users tend to make purchasing decisions based on what they find, you want to make sure consumers are seeing up-to-date information about your business – like opening hours and telephone numbers. On Yelp, you can claim your business page for free at biz.yelp.com.au.

  2. Regularly develop content. On your social sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, make sure to evaluate what’s trending. What are your customers talking about? Once you know that, you can post innovative and unique content to engage your target audience. Don't repeat yourself, make sure you come up with creative posts that highlight various services or specialties of your business, and try not to make too many of your posts sales-related. Tip! Make a calendar with seasonal references to help you plan out content, and use a service to schedule your posts for the entire week – these are huge time-savers.

  3. Dial up the multimedia. You should use pictures and videos as much as you can on your pages. We know that customers on Yelp stay 2.5 times longer on pages with photos, so upload away! But don’t just upload a photo of your logo – it’s not that helpful to consumers. Instead, showcase your shop or office, products or services and staff.

  4. Respond to reviews and comments. It’s important to respond to online feedback and comments the same way you would in person. On Yelp, you can respond to reviews publicly or privately. Private messages are great for thanking customers. Public messages (seen by everyone who views your Yelp page) can be your best PR tool. When replying publicly, thank the reviewer for their feedback, state your policies, and calmly flag any inaccuracies. 78% of reviews on Yelp are 3 stars or more (out of 5), so you’re likely to be receiving good comments. But if you do face a negative review, remember that it’s impossible to please everybody 100% of the time. If you find yourself getting angry, log out for 24 hours, and cool off before responding.

  5. Show you value feedback. Social media and review sites are great for getting honest, useful customer feedback. Some business owners even go through relevant reviews at staff meetings. This can help you address negative feedback and share positive comments with the team (this is a great morale boost too). Don’t forget to single out staff who have gone the extra mile, and keep staff in the loop if you’re offering special check-in offers or deals.

  6. Let people know where to find you online. Encourage customers to engage with you online by including links to your Yelp Business Page and social media profiles in marketing materials. Don’t ask for reviews, but instead focus on offering great customer service and let people know where to find you on the web. This will organically grow your business’s online reputation. Tip! Don’t forget in-store signage – sometimes a simple visual reminder makes the biggest difference.

If you’re ready to start taking advantage of free tools like these on Yelp, you can claim your free Yelp Business Page at www.biz.yelp.com.au and request a Find Us on Yelp window sticker at www.yelp.com.au/brand.

You can hear Nick speak at a panel event organised by the Pulse Group at River City Labs on Thursday 21 May. To find out more, click here.

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