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Digital Marketing for Local Business on a Budget: T-Time with Tillison

Digital Marketing for Local Business - Tillison Consulting

Are you looking for a more cost-effective way to draw in more clients which are local to you and your business? This instalment of our T-Time web series is inspired by a question from Rob, who asks:

I have a limited budget to spend on digital marketing to attract local customers. My budget isn’t enough to stretch to doing everything I’d like to, so where should I spend my money?

Watch the video below for our guide to digital marketing for local business on a budget – from the digital and offline activities you can do yourself, to the ones where you might need the help of an agency.

Digital Marketing for Local Business on a Budget: T-Time with Tillison

In this T-Time show:

  • The Funnel

– Brand reputation

– Search

  • What You Can Do Yourself (for Free)

– Offline marketing

– Engaging and proving your expertise

– Creating great content

– Speaking at events

– Getting Google Reviews (or Facebook)

  • What You Might Need an Agency For

– Running a Google Ads campaign

– Helping create a content plan

– Creating and executing a social media strategy

The funnel

(00:34) The best place to start with figuring out a cost-effective marketing strategy for your business is to understand the marketing funnel and its stages.

Brand reputation

The first stage at the top of the funnel revolves around creating awareness, interest and a positive reputation for your brand. Your customers buy from people who they know and trust – if they are aware of you and they trust you, they are much more likely to convert when they arrive on your website.

The middle stage of the funnel is all about search – put simply, getting your business found when someone needs the product or service that you provide. This can be done in a way that only requires a small amount of your budget, as you’re focused very specifically on local business or customers searching for what you sell or do.

Marketing Funnel - Digital Marketing for Local Business
Fun fact: the Tillison Consulting logo is actually inspired by your typical marketing funnel!

What you can do yourself (for free)

(01:51) Going back to the top of the marketing funnel, what you might not have considered as a start to your marketing strategy beforehand is momentarily stepping away from digital, and doing some marketing offline.

Offline marketing

Wherever you are, hopefully there are plenty of business networking opportunities and events where you can meet other businesses that might be able to refer work to you. Alternatively, there might be meetings of people in a specific field and may need your products or services.

LinkedIn and Eventbrite are both great platforms to search for networking events in your area, or you can check out the websites for your local business and enterprise centres. For Team Tillison in the south of England, the Basepoint Business Centres offer some fantastic networking opportunities and, of course, we host Curry Business – Hampshire’s tastiest business networking event!

Engaging and proving your expertise

Once you’ve networked in person, be sure to connect with your new contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. It’s also important to not just connect with them and forget about it – keep in contact with those people and build a relationship over time.

Don’t just expect them to engage with your social content if you don’t engage with theirs – more interactions means more credibility, whether that’s through LinkedIn and Facebook groups, Twitter Chats, or just on everyday posting.

When there’s an opportunity to prove your knowledge and give your opinion on whatever your area of expertise is, seize it. However, don’t fall into the trap of just going into ‘sales pitch mode’ – prove your credibility, and the sales opportunities will come later down the line, probably in the form of referrals from your networking contacts. As a business, we know that the strongest leads are the ones that come off the back of a recommendation from someone who is impartial.

Creating great content

Let’s say that there’s a event which local to you or a change in the local business community, or a story in the regional press which is generating a lot of buzz – should you be a part of that conversation? Is there a comment or an opinion that you can give on the matter? Can you link it back to your business?

We’ve previously spoken about using Google suggestions to predict what people are searching for – keep an eye on search queries led by trigger words like ‘why’ or ‘how’ and use those queries as the foundation for your content. Not only is it free content which is improving your chances of getting a good ranking from Google, but it is content which is valuable to your audience.

Once you’ve created your piece of compelling and keyword-rich content, don’t forget to share it regularly on social media. You can also curate content for free – find news stories, updates, images of projects that’s created by other people but still relevant to you and your audience.

If you engage in a bit of content curation once a day, or at least two to three times per week, you’re making your brand present and part of a conversation without spending a fortune or heaps of time every day or every week sitting on Twitter all day.

Event speaking - Digital Marketing for Small Business - Tillison Consulting
Tillison Consulting MD Mark Tillison has made a name for himself as a local business influencer through speaking at events. Picture: Really Simple Systems

Speaking at events

Once you’ve made more a name for yourself and your business in the local networking scene, then you may get the opportunity to impart some of your knowledge as a guest speaker at one of these events.

Speaking at events provides great opportunities for networking, building your credibility, and your SEO profile through links to your website. Think about a subject to talk about which would benefit the attendees spanning multiple different industries, while staying relevant to your business.

Don’t forget to connect with the people in the audience – not just during the event, but on social media as well. If your talk is helpful enough to someone, they’re more likely to recommend you and, as previously discussed, this could lead to some high-value leads.

Getting Google reviews (or Facebook)

If you have an extremely positive working relationship with some of your customers and they’re more than happy to sing your praises in person, why not see if they can transcribe those kind words into a review of your business on Google?

Getting as many Google reviews as you can is going to help you rank better in the local maps pack – this is the embedded map at the top of the first page on Google which shows businesses which are local to the user and linked to their search query.

Positive reviews will also play a key role in your Google My Business listing – provided you have set one up, which you definitely should – when people are actually searching for your brand.

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What you might need an agency for

(06:44) Provided you give them the time they deserve, all of the above steps are great for optimising the first step in your marketing funnel at a minimal cost and with little guidance. Let’s move on to the steps to optimise the search element of your funnel, some of which might require outside help by hiring a digital marketing agency.

Running a Google Ads campaign

With users searching for the products or services you provide in their area – and yours – you may need a small pay per click campaign created to suit your limited budget, targeting these users.

Knowing what we know about Google Ads, we’ve seen a lot of people waste a lot of money. To make sure that you’re configuring your Google Ads campaign properly, you may want to enlist the help of an agency for some Google Ads training.

Helping create a content plan

Finding opportunities for content creation and curation is one thing, and first and foremost you are writing your content for human beings. However, having a strong content strategy will help you maximise the time spent writing that content, in order for it to have a good chance of surfacing in Google.

If you are publishing content on your website, make sure that there are plenty of internal links throughout the copy. This include both outbound links to the relevant sales pages, and inbound links from other posts and pages. A strong link profile will help your rankings for the search terms you’re targeting organically or through PPC.

It also goes without saying, but having a content plan and a steady supply of new content provides countless opportunities for increased reach and engagement on your social media channels – so get sharing!

Creating and executing a social media strategy

You might find it easier to work with a social media agency to develop a strong social strategy. You don’t need to spend big money, but agencies can help you get your head around the best social media marketing tools to use as a local business, how to create valuable engagement and so on.

Remember the decorum for social engagement as discussed earlier – it’s very easy to slip into ‘sales pitch mode’ straight away. However, having a social media strategy is as much about content curation as it is sharing your own blog posts and sales pages.

User experience and conversion rate optimisation

(08:54) So, you’ve established your brand online and people are searching for your business, but what happens when they get to your website? You need to take a close look at how someone could behave on your website, and how likely they are to convert.

How clear are your calls to action? How easy is it to find your telephone number? If someone is looking to find a local provider of a product or service, how obvious is it that your business is in that location?

This is part of the of conversion rate optimisation process, which involves analysing user behaviour and reflecting their needs in the site’s user experience. You could arguably do this without outside help, but it may be easier for an agency to point you in the right direction to start with.

If you found this episode of T-Time with Tillison useful, subscribe to our YouTube channel for more tips and advice on how to improve your business using PPC, SEO and beyond.

Do you have any questions about creating a digital marketing strategy for your local business? Our Digital Marketing Specialists love creating successful projects that deliver a continuous stream of leads and sales for our clients. Get in touch with your questions in the comments, or click below to find out more about our bespoke digital marketing solutions.

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