Local newspapers – long the primary advertising vehicle for small business – are on the decline in terms of circulation, readership and effectiveness. Because of this and the easier-to-use technology, local paid search is expected to grow 161 percent in 2006. This will be the year to take advantage of this marketing tactic to level the playing field for your small enterprise.
Never has advertising effectiveness been easier to track. Businesses paid for newspaper ads and hoped they brought in business. With local search, your ads are presented to people in your area looking for your keywords and you don’t pay unless they click on your ad.
Many small businesses have not adopted this highly cost-effective tactic because of the difficulty previously involved. Even small marketing firms like mine have avoided using local search for their clients. First, you had to decide which publishers like Yahoo!, Google, and Internet Superpages.com to advertise with, and how to much to spend. You asked, “Do I need different ads for each?" and “How do I target only in my region?"
Then, you had to decide which keywords to purchase and how much to bid on each one. If your keywords didn’t work well, you had to figure out how to find keywords that would work.
Hard as it is to believe, a lot of small businesses still don’t have websites. Those who do have websites may not have a way to determine if and when visitors are visiting their sites in response to their local search ads.
Today, there are many local search providers – like ReachLocal - from which to choose. The technology takes care of all the details like publisher and keyword selection, budgeting, keyword optimization, and comprehensive reporting. An online guide walks you through the process, which typically works like this:
- create an account and advertiser profile
- specify campaign budget, target areas and duration
- specify products and services
- create ads
- build a one-page website, or point to your existing site
- pay for the campaign
- receive daily reports on web visits, emails and phone calls generated by the program
Simple and effective, going local is one of the smartest things you can do for your organization in 2006.
Harry Hoover is managing principal of Hoover ink PR. He has 26 years of experience in crafting and delivering bottom line messages that ensure success for serious businesses like Brent Dees Financial Planning, Focus Four, Levolor, New World Mortgage, North Carolina Tourism, TeamHeidi, Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, VELUX, Verbatim and Wicked Choppers.