Can We Really Help Offline Businesses in Small Markets?

27 replies
I was looking at some loacal search terms in my area - Looking at different niches, city, and city/state phrases. All terms I tried, it seems like the average local business search on google in my area is less than 200 searches per month, most not even registering on google.

Can I really help local businesses with so few searches in a COST EFFECTIVE manner. Sure, I could go out and charge $x,xxx for setup, but is that going to help the business at that price?

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

Thanks

UPDATE:
The population for the city is 18,000. But, There is a larger city of 50,000+ about an hour away.
#businesses #markets #offline #small
  • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
    Originally Posted by Charles Montgomery View Post

    Can I really help local businesses with so few searches in a COST EFFECTIVE manner. Sure, I could go out and charge ,xxx for setup, but is that going to help the business at that price?
    Depends on the business. Let's say you charge them $2,500.

    If they are a car dealership and you get them 5 new customers a month, that may be worthwhile for them, especially if it is ongoing and not just the first month.

    If they are a fine restaurant and you get them 5 new customers a month, that could be worthwhile too. If the average meal is $50, they've recouped costs after 10 months. If those new customers become regulars, then they've done even better.

    If they are an ice cream shop only open during the summer months and you get them 5 new customers a month, then it's not going to be worth $2,500 to them.
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    • Originally Posted by Dan C. Rinnert View Post

      Depends on the business. Let's say you charge them $2,500.

      If they are an ice cream shop only open during the summer months and you get them 5 new customers a month, then it's not going to be worth $2,500 to them.
      But with that last business, I could still help them leverage their customer base by setting up an email capture system and AR, right? Not only that, I could create a recipe book for them to market to their list during the offseason?

      Is that good thinking?
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      • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
        Originally Posted by Charles Montgomery View Post

        But with that last business, I could still help them leverage their customer base by setting up an email capture system and AR, right? Not only that, I could create a recipe book for them to market to their list during the offseason?

        Is that good thinking?
        Yes, good thinking. But, it's also going to depend on the ice cream shop's situation.

        I'm thinking of an ice cream shop that's right next to the kids' ball fields. I mean, the kids and parents can walk straight across the grass (not crossing any streets) to get to the shop. They pretty much have a captive audience. How do you convince that business owner that it's going to be worth $2,500 to get them on an eMail list?

        Now, the guy that owns an ice cream shop a short drive away might find that $2,500 a worthwhile investment. He could get the game schedules and eMail coupons to his list. Don't forget to stop at Joe's Ice Cream after the game. Here's a coupon for... He needs to get the parents to be willing to tell the kids, no, we'll drive over to Joe's.
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        • Profile picture of the author jihoy
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          • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
            Originally Posted by jihoy View Post

            All this silly talk about using internet marketing for a local ice cream shop seems a bit far fetched. Response rate is horrendous, for emails offers, and how do you get them to opt-in for your email offers? I think from the ice cream owner's perspective, it's best for them just place some web classified ads in the area locally. Maybe occasionally build some links on popular keywords, and optimize Google Local and make sure you are listed high there.
            So, the ice cream shop owner shouldn't use internet marketing. Instead, he should use internet marketing?

            Otherwise, I don't think this is worth it, ice cream's profit margin is nowhere near that of an ebook or anything you sell on the web, so he'd be having to sell like 20k extra worth of ice cream just to break even for you to justify your $2,500 fees.
            The $2,500 was just an example amount.
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            • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
              There are a few replies to your question:

              # 1: If prospects have especially high value then even if there is next to no search volume for a term it could still be worthwhile.

              In other words if just one paying client makes a business several thousand or tens of thousands of dollars in net profit then you only need to get one or two of those a year to make it worthwhile for the business.

              Also remember that many businesses that seem to have low transaction values can actually have some high volume clients worth thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

              Working out how a business makes its real profits and if it has some of these high value prospects should be a huge part of the initial process of deciding on strategies to help them when you're first talking to the owner.


              # 2: SEO is obviously not the only thing you can do for a business.

              There is email marketing, pay per click, text message marketing, video marketing, follow up, etc etc.

              One of the biggest things you can do for many businesses that have repeat customers is to design some kind of email and contact detail capture in the physical business then a follow up system involving email, a website etc etc.

              Also looking at improving the sales process of a business using a website can be very powerful.

              Thinking that the only thing you can do for a business is generate leads is very narrow minded.

              There are a pile of other ways you can help them increase their sales and profits.

              Kindest regards,
              Andrew Cavanagh
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          • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
            Originally Posted by jihoy View Post

            ...how do you get them to opt-in for your email offers?
            Join our eMail list and receive a coupon for a free ice cream cone on your next visit.
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          • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
            Originally Posted by jihoy View Post

            All this silly talk about using internet marketing for a local ice cream shop seems a bit far fetched. Response rate is horrendous, for emails offers, and how do you get them to opt-in for your email offers?
            Dairy Queen has tens of thousands of subscribers. Free ice cream on your birthday and discount coupons are all it takes. No reason that model can't work on a smaller scale for a local shop.
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      • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
        Originally Posted by Charles Montgomery View Post

        But with that last business, I could still help them leverage their customer base by setting up an email capture system and AR, right? Not only that, I could create a recipe book for them to market to their list during the offseason?

        Is that good thinking?
        Yes, I'd say that's good thinking. Something that could help them expand their product line, especially something that could boost off-season profits, is a good selling point that you could include as part of your services providing they actually have recipes they could sell.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
      Originally Posted by Dan C. Rinnert View Post


      If they are an ice cream shop only open during the summer months and you get them 5 new customers a month, then it's not going to be worth $2,500 to them.
      If the 5 new customers all like ice cream as much as I do it could pay off.


      Seriously though, I know what you mean Charles. I live in a small town and in addition to there not being that many searches, most people are well acquainted with most of the businesses already, so it would probably take more than just bringing an awareness of the business to them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Troy_Phillips
    I live in a very isolated part of the south. One of the chamber of commerce in a not too distant town ask me $600 a year for a link on their site .

    Although small, the towns around me gets a lot of tourism because of it's size and heritage . This certain town's name was drawing 223 searches a day .

    A quick domain purchase and less than 20 days of promotion had me number one for their kw and several relating .

    Let's just say I now have the first listing on their website and it only cost me $20 a year and a redirect
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  • Profile picture of the author FrankBowman
    The best way to target online businesses, is figure out what the lifetime value of a customer is to a certain business.

    An ice cream shop may or may not be a viable option.

    Take a chiropractor for example. The lifetime value of even 1 new client could be upwards of $10,000, so there is much more willingness to spend on both a site setup fee and a monthly seo fee.

    Just a thought.......

    Peace
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  • Profile picture of the author kml
    I think there's a serious generation gap also. I'm 40+ish but am tapped into the internet big time. I still get the big honking yellow pages books and rarely look at them - certainly a good idea to find prospective clients though

    Think mobile.
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  • Profile picture of the author chrisnegro
    In my experience with small rural areas are as follows:

    1) They tend to have very low budgets
    2) They tend to not be very educated on the value of marketing (harder sell then most urban business owners who are more entreprenurial type of people)
    3) You have to be alot more patient with the business owner to "warm up" to you. Typically, believe it not, rural area business owners may have to know you for1.5-2 years before they do business with you (small town mindsets).
    4) Once you get them as a client, you have to do alot more "hand holding"

    However, don't let this discourage you. Your in this for the long haul right? I just think its important that you know the small town dynamics so that you are not surprised. And I think you will find this mindset no matter what rural/small town your in for the most part.

    Success to you,

    Chris Negro
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    • Originally Posted by chrisnegro View Post

      In my experience with small rural areas are as follows:

      1) They tend to have very low budgets
      2) They tend to not be very educated on the value of marketing (harder sell then most urban business owners who are more entreprenurial type of people)
      3) You have to be alot more patient with the business owner to "warm up" to you. Typically, believe it not, rural area business owners may have to know you for1.5-2 years before they do business with you (small town mindsets).
      4) Once you get them as a client, you have to do alot more "hand holding"

      However, don't let this discourage you. Your in this for the long haul right? I just think its important that you know the small town dynamics so that you are not surprised. And I think you will find this mindset no matter what rural/small town your in for the most part.

      Success to you,

      Chris Negro
      Thanks alot for that. That might be the most deflating post I have ever read on WF.

      I shouldnt ask questions that I do not want answers to, huh?
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    • Profile picture of the author Troy_Phillips
      Maybe you have not experienced the right rural towns .

      Average lake lot (.8 acres) for our area $1.6 million

      Creek front $900,000

      Mountain Top $1.1 Million

      Mountain View lots $400,000

      Think any realty company here would think twice for a number one listing in google for $2500 ?

      This money trickles down to every business in town .

      Don't think the locals will not put that jug of corn liquor down long enough to make a wise business investment .



      Originally Posted by chrisnegro View Post

      In my experience with small rural areas are as follows:

      1) They tend to have very low budgets
      2) They tend to not be very educated on the value of marketing (harder sell then most urban business owners who are more entreprenurial type of people)
      3) You have to be alot more patient with the business owner to "warm up" to you. Typically, believe it not, rural area business owners may have to know you for1.5-2 years before they do business with you (small town mindsets).
      4) Once you get them as a client, you have to do alot more "hand holding"

      However, don't let this discourage you. Your in this for the long haul right? I just think its important that you know the small town dynamics so that you are not surprised. And I think you will find this mindset no matter what rural/small town your in for the most part.

      Success to you,

      Chris Negro
      Signature

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  • Profile picture of the author matthewd
    You could just go statewide.

    I have a client that doesn't get a lot of searches
    locally b/c they live in a tiny town, but they happen
    to be a business that attracts customers from several
    hours away in the bigger cities.

    So, I went statewide with them and made them the
    market leader for the entire state.

    It loses me money because I can't pick up another business
    in their market in the whole state, but it's the only option
    that would really help them, so it's fine with me.
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  • The population for the city is 18,000. But, There is a larger city of 50,000+ about an hour away.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
      Originally Posted by Charles Montgomery View Post

      The population for the city is 18,000. But, There is a larger city of 50,000+ about an hour away.
      18k is big enough you should be able to do something with it. As for the statements you found deflating:

      1) They tend to have very low budgets

      If you can show them how they will recoup their investment and more in time, this may not be as big of an issue as it sounds. They may not have the funds on hand to write you a check on your first meeting, but they can budget for your services.

      2) They tend to not be very educated on the value of marketing (harder sell then most urban business owners who are more entreprenurial type of people)

      I think that statement is less true now than it was a few years ago. Lots of small town businesses are online now, even in towns with just a few hundred people. They're not necessarily using the internet in a profitable way, but that's where educating them as to what you can do for them comes into play. You can educate them on that. You could start by mailing an info-packet to all the local businesses and seeing if anyone is immediately interested. If no one calls within a week, start following up with those you think would most benefit from your services.

      3) You have to be alot more patient with the business owner to "warm up" to you.

      Hmm...I don't know about that one. When I was working the offline angle I found if you can answer their questions, and draw the questions out of them that they may be hesitant to ask, then they can make a decision in a short time frame. That might be more dependent on the local conditions and ethos than on universal human nature.

      4) Once you get them as a client, you have to do alot more "hand holding"

      Unfortunately, I agree with this. It's one of the reasons I got away from web design and offline marketing. Still, it wasn't all that bad, I was just bored with it.

      If you choose which businesses you approach carefully, there are businesses in your town that I'd bet $2,500 isn't a big deal, and whom would benefit greatly from your services. Don't be discouraged, be informed and lay out a good plan, then do it!
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  • ^^^ Thanks Dennis. That was a great assessment. As far as $2,500. I didnt come up with that figure. I would have a few packages to offer the business with prices based on their profit per customer. So really, I would probably start around $700-$900 and go up to $2,500. Then just charge $200 for monthly maintenance.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
      Originally Posted by Charles Montgomery View Post

      ^^^ Thanks Dennis. That was a great assessment. As far as $2,500. I didnt come up with that figure. I would have a few packages to offer the business with prices based on their profit per customer. So really, I would probably start around $700-$900 and go up to $2,500. Then just charge $200 for monthly maintenance.
      Yeah, I know the $2,500 was just an example figure. The lower end packages would be a much easier sell. The $200 a month maintenance fee would be a harder sell than the package. What would you include for that price?

      Think about giving them an option of a flat rate maintenance fee or a pay as you go opiton, charging your hourly rate for the second option. In my experience the pay as you go approach was more popular at first, but then for some people the flat fee would eventually prove the better route for them.

      Of course, if hosting is part of the package you'd still have to change a monthly fee for that, unless you charged by the year, which is what I did.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jagged
    Small town business needs sales to survive just as a larger town business does. Maybe having a floating scale on your services....depending on your clientel is needed. Small towns have doctors & dentists....adding 5 new clients a month to them would mean far more value than adding 5...even 10 new clients to an ice cream shop, a barber or a pizzaria....so charging the same rate might not be in order.....
    Be flexible....You really have to weigh the work put into each client...some need more work...some need less.....If thats the case then wouldn't it be wise to charge some a higher fee....some a lesser fee?

    This is where the initial consultation comes into play....asking questions first..... Analyzing the info you gather....analyize the value of your service to each individual business....then charge accordingly....not a flat rate across the board for everyone....

    ~ken

    ---- was writing this the same time you were Charles....lol
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  • Profile picture of the author billionareHuman
    from reading this thread it all comes to down to ROI for the client, so your price has to factor in how much business they are going to get from it.

    You can undercharge and overdeliver for the first month or 2 and they will love you for it and you can increase the monthly charge after that, they will be very willing.

    You just need to break down the figures for them, eg. if they pay you $X then you will can potentially help bring them $Y. Hard to estimate I realize sometimes that's why it's better to undercharge at the start otherwise you set their expectations too high and you'll be under more pressure to perform.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Riddle
    Coming from a background of owning an Ice Cream Store in a Small town of under 15,000 from 1989 to 1994, I can tell you first hand that $2500 for any promotion that lasts over the year would have been very much worth it.

    But the key to "offline" success is that you are NOT an Web person. You are a marketing person and ONE of your tools is web traffic.

    I did many promotions using coupons and fliers on cars, newspaper, radio and billboards.

    Even though our town also had a dairy queen we dominated the ice cream market because of our continual promotions.

    Baskin Robbins came to town and quickly closed because they couldn't carve out enough business to make it work.

    If I were operating the ice cream shop today I would definitely have a web presence and focus on list building and regional fame.

    Mark Riddle
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    Today isn't Yesterday, - Products are everywhere if your eyes are Tuned!
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  • Instead of focunsing on an ice cream shop. What about a mechanic, Tanning salon, and a plumber?
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    • Profile picture of the author Jagged
      Originally Posted by Charles Montgomery View Post

      Instead of focunsing on an ice cream shop. What about a mechanic, Tanning salon, and a plumber?
      It's the same theory for any business...."will the service you provide bring enough ROI to your client to make it worth his investment into your service". No matter if it's a plumber, a hair salon, health club, mechanic, doctor, etc....

      Take Mark Riddle's post for example & insert hair salon everywhere it says icecream parlor & supercuts for baskin robbins....I can see the same senerio happening......in theory it's the same.....it's all in the ROI your client experiences....

      A lot of that can be found out in your initial consultation...ask questions like "How do you presently attract & retain new customers"....."What would 5 additional customers a month do to for your business"....10 customers?....50 customers? You can get a feel on what you need to do to obtain those goals & how much work will be needed on your part....price your service accordingly....

      ~Ken
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  • Profile picture of the author Jimian
    That's STILL 200 folks searching for that key word. You could then offer more services... add a coupon with their Google listing, etc.

    JIM
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    OFFLINE Marketing Strategies For The OFFLINE Warrior
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin AKA Hubcap
      To me its using the power of the web by integrating offline and online marketing to help small businesses thrive.

      There are a number of things that you can do and they don't all need to rely on search traffic. Depending on what type of business/industry you're working with you can use offline space ads or direct mail that points to a website that pre-sells and offers a free report.

      You could use video marketing to do a number of things such as capture testimonials from satisfied customers and explain why your client's service/product is the best value. And lets not forget about Google TV Ads and the opportunities that exist there.

      This is just a small sampling of what can be done. I believe that most businesses can profit using the web but each will require something different depending on the industry.

      Kevin
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