Local Search, Social Media and Mobile Marketing: The Future of Internet Marketing for Small Business

The marketing and advertising landscape for small business owners has changed and it continue to evolve.The Internet has changed how small businesses market and advertise their business This change is largely being driven by Facebook and Google and several other large companies. As a small business owner, you may just want to follow where the big boys are taking you.

Why Major Companies View the Local Business Market as Their Next Frontier?

Let me give an example. Groupon is a fantastic success story. This is a huge and successful business that focuses exclusively on helping local businesses grow their business. Groupon works with local businesses and offers the business’s coupons. The business will honor the coupon if enough people are willing to purchase them. Groupon leverages their massive memberships to assist local businesses advertise and grow by publishing these types of coupons.

Plus, they use Facebook and Twitter to spread the word. Groupon has so much potential, that Google offered to buy them for $6 Billion! They said no to this offer! Groupon has grown immensely in two short years. They now have 40 Million subscribers, up from 1.5 Million last year and 400,000 the year prior. They employed 124 people in December 2009. In November 2010 they had 3,100 employees. They ran Super Bowl commercials and their TV ads are becoming more common place.

Furthermore, Facebook is implementing a similar service in Facebook Places. Google recently said that 2011 should be its biggest hiring year. While they did not disclose figures, Google’s previous record was in 2007, when they added nearly 6,200 new employees worldwide. Facebook, with more than 2,000 employees is growing at close to 50 percent annually. This summer, it’s moving from Palo Alto, California to a 57-acre site that can accommodate 3,600 employees. Can you see some ‘writing on the wall’ here?

Compare these trends to some of the older forms of advertising. These traditional methods of advertising are losing their effectiveness because of the impact that the Internet is having on people:

Newspapers: People do not read newspapers anymore! They get the majority of their information on the Internet.

Phone Directories: The have been declining rapidly. Where is Yours? I dread the day my phone directories are delivered. They go right into the recycle bin. I have despised this waste for years.

TV: Along comes the DVR & TiVo. It used to be that we had to sit through every commercial. Every notice how the audio on commercials rises? Advertisers realize that people are leaving the room during their commercials. Nice try! Now, we don’t have to watch the commercials

Telemarketing: This was virtually destroyed with the “Do Not Call List!” I know, I was in the life insurance industry when these laws were passed. Now, telemarketers have to have permission to call a home phone number.

Direct Mail: I have used it extensively. At best, I only realized a 1-2 percent yield. That is not very effective.

Print Ad: Just too expensive

Yellow Pages (yp.com): Even the phone directory companies are taking their advertising online. But this still costs $75/monthly in my zip code.

Valpak: These still appear in my mailbox monthly. I usually toss them in the recycle bin. However, I finally decided to do some research. I found the cost to advertise with Valpak and I learned what types of small businesses were advertising in Valpak. Valpak Advertising Costs: There are 50,000 homes that they send their advertisements to. The basic cost is $350-$450 for a one time mailing to 10,000 homes. Conceivably, these small businesses are paying $1,700-$2,200 per month for the full package.

Many Small Businesses Have the Advertising Budget! They Simply Lack the Knowledge of How Best to Use it!

Yet small businesses owners are challenged by some of the new Internet marketing techniques that are available to them. Here are just a few:

Local Search Marketing: Google Places, etc.
Social Media Marketing: Facebook, Facebook Fan Pages, and Twitter
Mobile Marketing: Mobile websites
Mobile Text Marketing: Text messaging
Web Conferencing
Local Lead Generation
And, perhaps just having a basic small business website that is truly optimized for the major search engines (Google, Yahoo & Bing). These marketing techniques are the wave of the future! And, the future is now! Small business owners need to take a hard look at how these various services can best fit into their business advertising budget to improve their return on investment. Plus, the Internet offers a viral effect that is sure to provide additional value in the future. After all, what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet.

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