Local Offline Marketing - Does Size Really Matter?

25 replies
Well, my first post.

Bit of a real estate investor myself, but have enough of an IT / Gooogle Analytics / SEO background to make myself reasonably dangerous sounding to a 'client' looking to market online. Been reading up a fair bit on online marketing to offline businesses.

Her is my major concern:

I am of the opinion my town is too small for internet marketing to have a significant impact for retailers or businesses. If I google certain key phrases using local city or town names (ag. lawyers hickville), then we are talking just hundreds of search hits per month, or less.

Would appreciate some feedback from any I-marketeers in small towns (250K or less). While I realize there is minimal risk in approaching businesses and proposing an IM solution, I'd want to be reasonably educated before I do that. Therefore, don't want to waste time and money on the latter, if the potential market is non-existant.

Cheers all

Dubious!!!
#local #marketing #matter #offline #size
  • Profile picture of the author Lou Diamond
    Hello,
    if it is a smaller market you may want to charge a smaller price.
    You have to have the mindset that you are not selling to the customer,you are
    helping the customer.
    I walk into a location and I get shot down even before I can open my mouth.
    That is my challenge and I say to my new customer that I am not selling you anything I am helping you to make more money.
    That is when they sit me down and listen.
    I hope this will help you.
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    • Profile picture of the author bahnsurf
      Hi,

      Just to add on...

      If you are looking at anywhere < thousand searches per month, well, you may want to consider the following points

      • can you get your client website to first page (top 3 placing)?
      • can you help rank for various keywords for your client?
      • any verticals can you help your client to expand?
      They will be more appreciate if you really help them in growing their business online and be part of their marketing adviser.

      Hope this helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ebo Etoyep
    In my experience, the main selling point for offering local businesses in small towns internet advertising services comes down to tourism. I've consulted for a few restaurants and bars in small towns (<200k) many of whom had been bilked by fly-by-night web design firms and were seriously lacking in the web presence department. We worked on getting them listed as businesses in the Google directory and into Google maps. We also were able to help them get comfortable working with some of the more popular restaurant review sites.

    In more than one case, I ran into a business owner well after we'd finished the job and heard that they'd seen a noticeable increase in out of town business that had Google'd restaurants that they were going to pass during road trips and vacations.

    It is also worthwhile to do geo-targeted AdWords campaigns aimed at a 20-30 mile radius around the town as people are definitely beginning to use Google to decide where they want to eat more often. The ad spend will be minimal, but the ROI, especially if you consider repeat customers, can be huge.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jagged
    The smaller the locale...the more understanding into why they need to integrate their business online to compete is needed....a smart business owner should think like that anyways...If they do not have that frame of mind...then make it your job to educate them...

    A locale of 250K is not exactly a small town....plenty of opportunity there!!
    You do not state what area, or what country you wish to do business, but in these parts (Tucson, AZ)...you have Tucson...surrounding "burbs"....then 20 miles (or less) down the road is another smaller business district, 20 miles more...another...1hr to 1 1/2 hrs away...another sizable town/city. I think of a mile radius of say...150 as "my target area"...it's all with-in a few hrs drive.
    (a locale such as florida, where you have jacksonville, orlando, st pete's, miama, tampa all with-in 1 -2 hrs of eachother...with many smaller business districts between them...allows you to target much more that your specific area...unless your lazy & don't want to drive)

    A business in a smaller locale will need to target customers outside their own town & go after those who are 20-30-50 miles down the road...a well designed, properly Geo-Targeted SEO'd website will do just that...

    By casting your line out a little farther...you hopefully catch 10-15% more sales...chances are those sales alone would out-weigh the cost of a buisness website, some local seo & maintanence...then that's a smart business decision...once the business owner see's the value of that....your services are an easy sell...no matter what size town your in.

    Ken
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelHiles
    Of course, widening the search geography to include areas not in the immediate area might bring clients that are further away, but not so far as to not do business.

    Industry specific filters apply.
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  • Profile picture of the author Riz
    There is a lot of scope in offering IM services even in small Towns. Some of the advice has been to use SEO to target customers up to 50 miles away. Of course this is subject to the type of business you are dealing with. It is highly unlikely that someone will come from 50 miles away to eat in a restaurant or have their hair cut etc.

    You mentioned searches for eg: Lawyers Your City are in the hundreds. That is a lot of searches for a local key phrase. A Lawyer, chiropractor, physiotherpaist etc only need a few clients a month to see a huge ROI on thier investment in certain IM campaigns.

    There is also a lot of potential if you live in a town that attracts a lot of tourists.

    One simple IM activity that can benefit the majority of businesses no matter how small the Town is Email Marketing.

    Also, there is nothing stopping you from approching businesses in neighbouring Towns that have a greater population.

    There are opportunities everywhere and Offline marketing can be very very lucrative if approached in the correct manner.

    Hope that helps.

    Riz

    Originally Posted by nubiwan View Post

    Well, my first post.

    Bit of a real estate investor myself, but have enough of an IT / Gooogle Analytics / SEO background to make myself reasonably dangerous sounding to a 'client' looking to market online. Been reading up a fair bit on online marketing to offline businesses.

    Her is my major concern:

    I am of the opinion my town is too small for internet marketing to have a significant impact for retailers or businesses. If I google certain key phrases using local city or town names (ag. lawyers hickville), then we are talking just hundreds of search hits per month, or less.

    Would appreciate some feedback from any I-marketeers in small towns (250K or less). While I realize there is minimal risk in approaching businesses and proposing an IM solution, I'd want to be reasonably educated before I do that. Therefore, don't want to waste time and money on the latter, if the potential market is non-existant.

    Cheers all

    Dubious!!!
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    • Profile picture of the author scottgallagher
      Originally Posted by Riz View Post

      One simple IM activity that can benefit the majority of businesses no matter how small the Town is Email Marketing.

      Riz
      Yeah, this is a great service to offer local businesses. We provide and teach this service to our customers and students.

      It provides a nice reoccuring revenue from your customer and gives them a positive return. It's easy to deploy and difficult to mess up, if you're striving for quality.

      This is one of the tools the Local Marketing Toolbox.
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    Here's the disconnect that a lot of people don't get:

    - SEOing your local website to "get traffic" or "get our name out there"
    is dreadfully naive but that's exactly what a lot of offline business
    owners think they should be doing.

    Here's the catch - "Are people searching for your website or category
    in your area? If so, when they find you online what compelling reason
    will your site give them to buy from you and not your competition?"

    The reality is that while SEO results in a local area may be a good
    thing for bragging rights for the business owner, it might not
    result in a lot of traffic. That's not reason to ignore SEO, but it's
    a good reason not to wage a war over a number 1 position of
    little real value in terms of buying traffic.

    What an effective website does is engage, inform, and build
    your email list (for a local business) - it may even sell product
    directly from the site, which is ideal but not appropriate to
    many businesses. So, then, a site is basically a lead generator -
    and basically it saves you all kinds of printing and postage
    costs.

    I see effective websites as money-savers over the old school
    direct mail I did more of when I started with marketing. I love
    direct mail, but costs add up and start to get pretty ridiculous
    compared with email follow-up.

    But, say, you've got a Limo service in Denver - it's probably worth
    optimizing for "Limo service denver" because that's likely to
    get some searches from buyers. BUT - it's absolutely essential
    the page those visitors land on makes them a competitive and
    compelling offer that gets them to take action and book a limo
    right then and there.

    So traffic is one thing - converting it into revenue is another...
    and each business needs it's own solution to be competitive.
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    • Profile picture of the author nubiwan
      Originally Posted by Loren Woirhaye View Post

      Here's the disconnect that a lot of people don't get:

      - SEOing your local website to "get traffic" or "get our name out there"
      is dreadfully naive but that's exactly what a lot of offline business
      owners think they should be doing.

      Here's the catch - "Are people searching for your website or category
      in your area? If so, when they find you online what compelling reason
      will your site give them to buy from you and not your competition?"

      The reality is that while SEO results in a local area may be a good
      thing for bragging rights for the business owner, it might not
      result in a lot of traffic. That's not reason to ignore SEO, but it's
      a good reason not to wage a war over a number 1 position of
      little real value in terms of buying traffic.

      What an effective website does is engage, inform, and build
      your email list (for a local business) - it may even sell product
      directly from the site, which is ideal but not appropriate to
      many businesses. So, then, a site is basically a lead generator -
      and basically it saves you all kinds of printing and postage
      costs.

      I see effective websites as money-savers over the old school
      direct mail I did more of when I started with marketing. I love
      direct mail, but costs add up and start to get pretty ridiculous
      compared with email follow-up.

      But, say, you've got a Limo service in Denver - it's probably worth
      optimizing for "Limo service denver" because that's likely to
      get some searches from buyers. BUT - it's absolutely essential
      the page those visitors land on makes them a competitive and
      compelling offer that gets them to take action and book a limo
      right then and there.

      So traffic is one thing - converting it into revenue is another...
      and each business needs it's own solution to be competitive.

      Makes a lot of sense. Many people will search locally for a restaurant by name and reputation. I think what you'd suggest is to offer them a 10-30% discount on their next meal if they join a mailing list, for example.

      There is also a significant tourism angle here. Bed and Breakfast, Restaruants etc. where the SEO / Google maps angle would be valuable. So, a bit of both.

      Thanks all for the responses.

      While I am here, are there any WSO's for basic website design? I have a limited knowledge of website building, but understand there are also many templates available.
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    • Profile picture of the author TommyBussey
      Originally Posted by Loren Woirhaye View Post

      So traffic is one thing - converting it into revenue is another...
      and each business needs it's own solution to be competitive.
      One of my businesses is actually doing really well with online marketing for local businesses (granted I do live in very populated area).

      Anyways, I agree with Loren about the conversion part and here is one thing to keep in mind that no one else mentioned.

      Even if there are only a few hundred searches per month, wouldn't you think that if you could convert just a handful of those in customers for your client that they would grateful?? That being said your client should be in a business that makes a few thousand dollars per customer. For example, home renovations, plumbing, attorneys, etc.

      Just 2 or 3 new customers per month for them could mean doubling their monthly revenue.

      Just another thought for you to keep in mind.

      - Tommy
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      • Profile picture of the author AP
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        • Profile picture of the author cma01
          Originally Posted by AP View Post

          NOTHING is being tracked, and they spend 100% of their entire budget on acquiring only new business which is 15% of their sales.
          It always amazes me how few small businesses actually track their business. They have no idea what they should be spending money on because they have no idea what is actually working for them.
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        • Profile picture of the author Vagabond 007
          Originally Posted by AP View Post


          I am currently working with a business that spends $400,000 a year on Yellow Pages, you read that right. They also spend $50,000 on stupid cable tv commercials.

          NOTHING is being tracked, and they spend 100% of their entire budget on acquiring only new business which is 15% of their sales.

          They have over 30,000 customers in their database and NO followup. Zero dollars are spent on their current customers.
          It always amazes me how stupid some companies are.
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          • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
            A properly constructed website can add money to the bottom line without attracting a single new lead or customer.

            Sometimes making the phone NOT ring is a good thing. Unless you have properly trained employees answering the phone (extremely rare), you can increase their effectiveness by adding a recording referring people to the website for:

            > store or office hours
            > driving directions
            > current specials
            > etc.

            If the business requires customers to fill out standard forms (i.e. new patient, insurance, etc.), having those forms available as a PDF could mean people coming to the business with paperwork already filled out. Less hassle for the client/patient/customer, more throughput for the business, more profit.

            A PDF of the standard employment application (or online application form) could save some businesses enough employee work time to justify adding it to the site.

            I could go on, but I think y'all get the point...

            It isn't about SEO or search results or even purely about generating leads/traffic/sales.

            It's about using the online presence to make the entire business more effective and profitable.

            As for market size, my very first client was a museum in the middle of Nebraska in a town of about 3,500. Twelve years later, they have a shiny new site with a local designer (I'm no longer local) but they see enough value in that old site that they cut me a check to renew it every year.
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        • Profile picture of the author Blase
          Originally Posted by AP View Post

          Take it from someone who makes 6 figures per month doing so-called Offline.

          Offline Marketing has very little to do with Websites, SEO, Google Local Maps, etc...

          There are 2 things you can do for a business.

          Make their phone ring or get customers to go to their business.

          100% of all businesses have Major problems with their Infrastructure.

          I am currently working with a business that spends $400,000 a year on Yellow Pages, you read that right. They also spend $50,000 on stupid cable tv commercials.

          NOTHING is being tracked, and they spend 100% of their entire budget on acquiring only new business which is 15% of their sales.

          They have over 30,000 customers in their database and NO followup. Zero dollars are spent on their current customers.

          Even though they have a website, they don't need one.

          They don't need any Internet skills except using an Auto-responder and doing some Direct Mail campaigns. This alone will increase their business 25-50%.

          Very few WSO's I have seen address True Offline marketing.

          I guess this is why I make the big bucks.
          I've been in sales and marketing for 46 years.

          I've worked as a salesman up to a
          National Sales and Marketing Manager.

          I've run my own small business coaching
          business since 1995.

          I've worked with 36 different industries.

          I would strongly recommend that you read,
          re-read and understand what
          AP said in that post.
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  • Profile picture of the author Craig McPherson
    If the town is midway between Bigtown and Hugetown you could perhaps get the local Motel or eatery more business with passing trade.
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  • Profile picture of the author cma01
    I"m technically in Houston, but the community I live in is under 100k people and is pretty insular as far as shopping.

    Even a small business needs an online presence, what they focus on is just going to be a little different. In some industries, all the business is going to need is a decent web site that is structured properly and they'll beat out the rest. In others like real estate and lending, it doesn't matter how small the market is they are going to have put effort into their site to get good results.

    You could always put together an intro "Web Marketing Package." Do some keyword research (because you know a lot of them are targeting keywords no one is searching on,) clean up their content, show them how to blog, get their RSS feed published, integrate their Feedburner, Twitter, LinkedIn (etc) accounts, and set up a Facebook page for them.

    If you wanted to do more, you could always offer a periodic article/press release service and not only submit it to the online press release directories, but the local media as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author JasonP
    Even if its only a few hundred searches per month, they definitely are valuable searches that would be worth reaching for. Especially if you're targeting "Lawyer Hickville". As I'm sure you're well aware (as most of my clients are) leads for lawyers are extremely valuable. But even if its (barber Hickville) then you have to show the bigger picture in terms of repeat business.
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  • Profile picture of the author scottgallagher
    Very Interesting Thread.....

    This is an area I spend a lot of time on and have worked with hundreds of small businesses from $50k to $50m. There are several scopes of thought discussed here.

    First is pricing and perception. we have clients in towns as small as 30,000. We don't discount our services because of a small town, our services are priced on perception, that people purchase a state and that's an anticipated feeling derived from the product or service. Meaning, if they netted $50k in revenue from my services, what should we charge? The same price as the competition? A cookie cutter price? Now the question is since there is more people in bigger cities, there are more opportunities. Of course this is true, but typically competition tends to follow population and it's all relative to the size of the city, therefore based on basic assumptions this isn't true.

    the next question is your audience. some are discussing hotels and restaurants. these prospect, at least at this time, won't have the revenue for your charge a fair price for your services. A typical local business marketing on the Internet requires consistent 10+ per week dedicated. I find it hard to build a business model with re-occurring revenue, margins of 30%+ and offering a value added service charging a customer anything less than several hundred a month, closer to the thousand mark. Otherwise we'd be comprimising our quality.

    there are some rules and questions that need to be asked before you go out to attract a prospect. For example, a local business cna be service based, product based, b2c, b2b, inbound or outbound service, franchise, corporate, retail, etc.... There are only certain segments that fit into the stripped model I discuss above. all the others are a waste of time. either it's too hard to show the value for the margins trying to achieve or it's simply not a good model.

    for example, a dry cleaner and a defense attorney in a town of 30,000. I live in a town of 30,000. The customer value of a defense attorney could be over $100k in a DUI lawsuit, regardless of the size of the town. That attorney could spent $12k a year in Internet marketing and be listed in the organic, lbr and paid for that price. If they landed on client with a large lawsuit, the value is there for them.

    the dry cleaner on the other hand you could easily get them 3 new clients per day, say 250 days in a year. that's 750 new client, but with perhaps a 10% in that business and the average sale at say $20, that's about $1500 in new profit over the year for that dry cleaner. how the heck am I suppose to make money if the situation only dictates there is $1500 profit on the table? not interested.

    in any event, i'd like to direct you to a free video that we have on our blog. the blog post title is "Selling Internet Marketing Services to Local Businesses Webinar". This is a one hour video that discusses all the components discussed on the types of local customers you should look for, the pitfalls, pricing, proposal and sales strategy. it follows a solution selling approach. there is no opt-in to see the video either.
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  • Profile picture of the author Chadisa
    Originally Posted by nubiwan View Post

    If I google certain key phrases using local city or town names (ag. lawyers hickville), then we are talking just hundreds of search hits per month, or less.
    You also have to remember that to a small town lawyer or whatever a few hundred hits to their website would be HUGE each month. They would just need one lead to convert and that would more than pay for your fees, etc.
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    • Profile picture of the author scottgallagher
      yeah, it's their customer value as well. if there are 200 searches a month, maybe only 10% of those searches end up spending money on attorney fees. If the average relationship is $10,000, that's still $200,000 of attorneys fees for that small city transacted via Google searches. With 40% of click on the top organic spot, that could represent $80k for that attorney.....Even spot #3 in the LBR will get you 5% of the clicks...that's still $10k of attorney fees collected...take a third of that monthly....
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  • Profile picture of the author lenlatimer
    Hi,
    Maybe you should be thinking bigger. Why do you feel you're limited to just your town - the web makes you global if you want to be.

    You could create a good business just by finding sites or yellow page ads in your market and then contact the owner by phone or mail, with your pitch telling them how you can increase their response. You could probably get up to $500 per customer.
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  • Profile picture of the author freudianslip27
    Another idea is to find some local clients and then ask them for referrals from business friends outside of town!

    I got one client in a somewhat small town who loved my services so much he introduced me to his friend (who I also have as a client) in the biggest city in my state! Pretty cool stuff

    Matt
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  • Profile picture of the author Pauli7143
    Wow, great read guys Thanks for talking it out.

    I'm working on a similar issue, I'm thinking about a JV with several small non-competing businesses in a "City Newletter" format with problems and solutions offered with links to their sites.
    I'll tell you how it works out

    Paul
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      I-marketeers in small towns (250K or less)
      I live in a town of 920 people, with a nearby town of 30,000 people, and in this community good web sites and being findable on the web are as important as in a big city.

      If I am looking for a service I have never purchased before in my area, I have four ways to find it:

      1)Yellow Pages
      2)Word of Mouth
      3)Internet
      4)Newspaper ads

      Some people hate the Yellow Pages and do not subscribe to the newspaper, and always look online. If they don't know someone who can refer them to the type of business they're looking for, and the business owner doesn't have a findable web site, that customer goes elsewhere or doesn't buy from anyone.

      The size of the community has very little to do with this equation. However small the community and however well-rooted one is in the community, there are going to be services people are looking for that they need a starting point for.

      In addition, newcomers to the community will always be searching for services in one of the above four ways. If they don't know people yet, they have to rely on the Yellow Pages, the Internet or the newspaper. And again, some of them will be using their computers first and foremost.

      Make sense?

      Marcia Yudkin
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