The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently
released its own story about the virtual world
and how small retailers can improve their online offering. John Jantsh, a leading marketing
consultant and author of a Forbes favorite blog
on marketing and small businesses, shared his
views in a recent free webinar. Here are a
couple of key points we felt were very relevant
to specialty independent retailers:
When you talk about “local marketing,”
what does this mean exactly, in particular
for retail businesses?
Thanks to technology, local marketing means
a lot more these days than yellow pages and
local ads. Today, retailers have a number of
opportunities – and challenges – for driving
local traffic, from search rankings and profiles,
to location-based games and apps. There’s a
lot to learn to take advantage of all that, but
in this webinar, I’m focusing more on how
to make your business more competitive for
the local search, including how to optimize
your Web site, build out local search profiles,
get listed and mentioned, and how to handle
Many local retailers and small businesses
are seen as the very foundation of Main
Street in their hometown. Why is it still
important for them to have an effective
online presence as well?
Not so long ago, people in need of something
grabbed a book full of yellow pages and
thumbed through it looking for a place to eat
or shop. Or they browsed their local newspaper
and saw ads that grabbed their attention. And
businesses bought those ads. Now, shoppers
are armed with a numbing array of tools that
make it easy to discover, explore, research,
rate, review and share their experiences with
others – even as they are walking or driving
past your establishment. So, if you’re trying
to reach today’s customers, you need to be
engaged where they are. If not, they’ll just
find your competitors.
Is it expensive for local retailers to
establish a strong online presence?
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but can
take some time. For example, you don’t have
to pay anything to claim most social media
profiles, but you will spend time creating and
maintaining them. Or, you can use free platforms to create a blog for your business, but
you should plan to commit time to writing.
There are also a lot of online advertising options
these days that let you set the budget you want
to spend and test to see if it’s working for
you before putting too much money into it.
Are there certain tools that should be
part of any local marketing effort?
Search engines – like Google, Yahoo and Bing
– are now among the primary means that
people [use to] find products and services
in their hometown. And, 82 percent of local
searchers follow up offline via an in-store
visit, phone call or purchase. As a local retailer, you, of course, want to be among
those search results.
What about content? How can you
I often tell business owners to “spread the
local love,” meaning that if you want to get
something, first give something. If you want
to get love from the community, make sure to
include content on your own site that’s local.
Add a blog that talks about the community,
gives dates for local events or coverage of
local happenings around town. If you partner
with local nonprofits, give them coverage.
And don’t forget to shine a little light on your