As a local business owner you may be late to the digital party because you’ve been under the assumption that brick and mortar establishments don’t require an online presence. And now it’s finally hit you that in order to keep a competitive edge in your local market you need to be online, and so you’re scrambling to get yourself set up and bringing in leads and sales.
There is danger, though, in trying to rush in and claim your online space, and that danger is, as an offline business owner, you’re not up to speed on all things digital and you may buy into some bad information. Even savvy online marketers have a hard time keeping up with the frenetic pace of change that is the digital marketing landscape.
With this in mind, and in an effort to ensure you don’t waste time with online marketing tactics and theories that are antiquated and just downright wrong, here are five local digital advertising myths that may hurt your bottom line.
MYTH #1: If I Don’t Sell Digitally, Then I Don’t Need to Advertise Digitally
Just in case you’re one of the very few business owners on the planet who hasn’t fully embraced the fact that he needs an online presence regardless of whether he sells online or not, let us put this myth to bed once and for all. It doesn’t matter if you sell pizza on Main Street in your town or if you’re the local plumber, your local market is searching online for what you have and if they don’t find you they’ll find your competition and give them the business instead. In today’s day and age, if you don’t have a web presence you’re simply not going to be taken seriously by consumers – period.
MYTH #2: All I Need is a Pretty Website and I’m Good to Go
Hmmm, like saying I have a brand-spanking-new SUV with top of the line bells and whistles and that’s all I need to get me from Point A to Point B. Well, that car won’t get me very far if I don’t fill it with gas repeatedly and maintain it so it doesn’t break down.
If you have a great looking website with helpful content, how will people find it? Unless your local customers already know you and purposefully type in your business name, you can’t assume your website will automatically be returned in the results. You need to have a strategy to get visitors to your site. This can be SEO, claiming your local listings on sites like Google Places and Yelp, or using social media to drive traffic.
And speaking of social media…
MYTH #3: I Don’t Need Social Media for My Type of Business
Although we won’t deny that certain types of businesses have an easier time interacting with customers on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, having a social media presence is still a good idea for a couple different reasons. One, these platforms help you monitor your business’ reputation, and two, social media can help you outrank your local competition who still may not have embraced it.
MYTH #4: I Don’t Need to Optimize for Mobile
And you still think this, why? Trust us, the thousands of marketing experts exclaiming the importance of optimizing your website for mobile haven’t been doing so because they have nothing better to do. They’ve been doing it because cold hard data has shown mobile usage is through the roofs. According to Pew research, as of January 2014, 58% of Americans have a smartphone, and we can assume that number has increased in the past year based on historical patterns of smartphone adoption by consumers. In June of last year, Comscore offered this piece of data: “Mobile platforms – smartphones and tablets – combined to account for 60% of total digital media time spent, up from 50% a year ago.”
We don’t know how to make it any clearer – the entire world (okay, a slight exaggeration but it’s only a matter of time) is migrating their online activities to their mobile devices. If the entire world cannot interact with your website because it’s not optimized for mobile, then who on earth is going to do business with you?
MYTH #5: I Need a Huge Budget to Market Online
If you’ve had a professional marketer call you or knock on your door claiming they can help you gain traction online and it will only cost you X thousands of dollars every month, run for the hills. The truth is local digital advertising does not have to cost much at all. The key is to spend a little bit of time up front to figure out your specific goals and focus on one method or channel of marketing at a time.
Hopefully now that some of these myths have been dispelled you will embrace local digital advertising and put it to work for you.