Local Online Marketing Has Gone Mainstream, Don't Miss the Bus

Try going into a small mom & pop restaurant and talk to the owner about SEO optimization, brand awareness, and geophysical marketing, and they may tell you they don’t have time for such a lengthy discussion. However, ask him whether he’s aware of online comments and reviews or if he has a Facebook page, and the response may overwhelmingly surprise you with that and more. Small and micro businesses have learned that a social media presence is critical for their local well-being, even if they may not know all the technical marketing tools behind online brand development.

Advertising channels are already seeing the shift as local retail businesses and local marketers are putting their money into the online effort. Its reported that 8 out of 10 consumers are connected to the Internet at any given moment, most likely with thier mobile device, it only makes sense for small business to target their marketing to be in the same environment. As a result, local businesses already make up over 16 percent of online advertisement spent at the local level. That same involvement is expected to increase to over 25% of local ad funding within a year and half. The majority of this marketing budget will be focused on consumer mobile devices.

The mainstream push for local companies to get online doesn’t have to know the technical background of brand development either. It’s already built for them. As a result, most small companies are establishing a footprint in all the major social media tools. Two-thirds surveyed have a Facebook page, almost half are present on LinkedIn, a third use Twitter, and a third is actively present on Yelp. Almost half of small businesses active are present in Google Places and the same amount actively advertise on Yahoo! Local. So a lack of backroom knowledge of Google analytics and SEO performance is not a barrier to local online marketing by any means.

Ironically, with all the effort being self-made by small businesses into the digital world for a presence, a large majority still also maintain a print advertising budget as well in their local outlets. Despite consumers increasingly using their mobile devices to find business solutions for their needs, business owners still believe print advertisement serves a purpose as well, at least locally. So the local small business’s approach to brand development often includes a hybrid approach combining old and new tools.

The fact that so many local companies are already functioning on the local platform requires a related shift in consulting. It’s not about getting a presence anymore; hired help now needs to focus on how to assist a small company enhance that presence even more. Technical know-how still has a valuable place in online brand development but with the continuing changes of online makreting, it's really taking the time to learn and leverage the latest trends and strategies that lead to the most successful results.