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Google Local Marketing Tips for Small Businesses on a Budget

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Google Local Marketing Tips for Small Businesses on a Budget

Most local small business owners realize the importance of Google local marketing but simply do not have the budget or marketing dollars to invest in local online marketing. Ron Rodi, Jr and Ryan Paul Adams discuss this topic and provide some Google local marketing tips to help you get found online and to help you keep the clients you already have. 

It doesn’t have to cost a small fortune to get your business found online for local searches, but it does require some effort and basic internet marketing knowledge to get you started. 

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Google Local Marketing Tips for Small Businesses on a Budget – Transcript

Ron: Good morning! It’s Ron Rodi Jr. of PME360.

Welcome to our weekly business growth podcast. And Ryan Paul Adams is with me today.

Ryan, good morning.

Ryan: Good morning! Glad to be doing this again.

Ron: Thanks for joining me.

Ryan, you know, each week we explore some topics, provide information for local small businesses to help them learn some nuances on how to grow, what they can do as local small businesses to get started.

Today’s topic is interesting. Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about local marketing and local SEO, why it’s important for small businesses.

But we’ll put a twist on it. We’ll talk about it on a standpoint of a new business that might not necessarily have the largest of budgets or no budget at all.

So we’re going to provide some tips on how that small business can get started – whether or not you have a website, whether or not you’re just getting started, whether or not you’re brick and mortar, we’ll talk some tips there.

Ryan, let’s go ahead and set the table.

Ryan: I ran into a couple of local businesses this week that have been in businesses for 15 to 20 years – both of them. And they’ve never done any marketing.

Really, they have never invested in marketing at all. And one of them had a website, while the other one didn’t. Whatever we’ll talk about really applies to those types of businesses as well.

So not necessarily somebody who like started yesterday but…

Ron:  …someone looking to get started on the online world.

So whether you’ve been in business for one month or 10 years, some tips you could do on a relatively small budget.

Ryan: Exactly.

Ron: Fantastic. So let’s take a look at that Ryan. Let’s dive into that. Because I know we’ve both had discussions this week with local small businesses that are looking to get started.

Inevitably, they are extremely overwhelmed. They have many things to do on a day to day basis. And they wake up in the morning, they realize the importance of trying to establish a presence online.

And to me, they get too carried away with all the things that need to be done. And they become paralyzed because they simply just don’t know where to get started.

Ryan: It could be completely overwhelming. And I’m in this market, every day the options for marketing online are crazy. I mean, there are so many options. So many things that you need to learn to do, that you feel you need to do because in every seminar you go to, everybody you talk to says,

“Why are you not in Facebook? Why are you not in Twitter? Why are you not in LinkedIn? You have no videos on YouTube.”

Ron: …why aren’t you blogging? Why aren’t you pushing out content? Why aren’t you doing SEO?

Ryan: And everybody’s intention is good.

You really should, at one point, be looking at doing some or all of those things because there’s built-in traffic in every single one of those sources. And also, the ability to get found better  online. You have great rivers of information as what we call it.

But I think you’ve got to clear out the clutter and all the noise. Focus on what’s the number one most important thing I need to do to get started so that I can start getting found online.

There are 3 billion searches done in every month for local products and services. And to capture a small percentage of that traffic, what do I need to do right now to make sure that all people who are looking for me online can find me easily?

Ron: Let’s forget acronyms. Let’s forget about the noise. Let’s start with bare bones, what’s the best thing that I can do?

Ryan: So I think if you don’t have the budget. I’m a big fan of having a website but you don’t actually need one at this point.

Ron: Or you need a simple one.

Ryan: A 1-page website is fine. Get a 1-page website with a webform, your phone number and a good description of who you are. Just get something up.

I think, this is probably better than having nothing. But even before that, if I was a local business owner, I’d make sure my local business listing data was plentiful, updated and accurate.

So I just ran into a situation the other day. I needed to have my dentist appointment. And my dentist doesn’t have a website as he’s a little bit old school. But he knows that he needs one. I haven’t really pushed the issue at all. You know, he knows what I do and he knows the value of it. But he feels that he just cannot handle it.

Ron: How often have we heard the phrase “I can’t handle it.”

He’s overwhelmed.

Ryan: He’s overwhelmed as it is. As a business owner, he just can’t handle that process and while we could handle all of that for him and he doesn’t need to do anything, in his mind it’s just too much. That’s normal.

Ron: I think, I know where you are going with this. So go ahead.

Ryan: So I had an appointment. I was looking at my card. I didn’t have my card. So I don’t own a yellowbook or a phonebook at all. We don’t have one. None at the house either. I looked around the other day just for kicks to see if we had one because I wanted to see what people were doing in there. And I don’t have one.

So I went online and I search for this dentist’s office name and nothing was coming out.

Ron: The doctor’s name.

Ryan: So I searched for a doctor’s name and it did come up. But the listing data didn’t have a phone number in it.

I went through 5 listings and I finally got to page 2 and there was a listing in there that had a phone number.

I just thought that it was difficult.  If I were somebody who was a new patient, considering how hard it was, I’d be definitely annoyed.

Ron: So you were still at home.

But what happens then if you were in the car, you’ve got your mobile device and you’re saying. “Okay I need to go here and then I need to stop at the dentist because I have an appointment. Everything’s at home because I got my device.

People are searching on their devices. It’s the same thing. It’s the same way as if you’re searching on your desktop. People now are doing 1 to 3 searches and it’s done. It’s local.

Ryan: And it’s going to grow. It’s going to get bigger.

Ron: And half of them are done in mobile devices. So what this leads to is okay, you might not be ready to be found for those who are searching for your business category, in what’s a general and broader search.

However, it is extremely important for those who know about you, those who have seen your business location, those who have been by it, those who know your name and those who know your office and business name.

Okay, you are referred to this particular doctor, particular business. People want to go and validate you – see who you are.

So the first step, to me, is if you’re already known, people already know you, great. That’s a great thing if you’re giving out business cards, if you’re in a local publication perhaps. Again, people drive by, you’re referred.

But people still need to know where you are located. They still want to know what people are saying about you. Anything! Like are there any reviews or maybe where did this doctor go to school.

Do you have that information? That’s the conversation we both had with local business owners recently.

Half the battle is making sure that people who know about you can find you. It sounds obvious but it’s a huge pain point.

Ryan: it sounds obvious but it’s not. Because more times than not, when we’re looking for the businesses we already do business with, we’re getting frustrated that we don’t have what we need quickly – especially if we’re on the phone. We’re in a rush and we’re searching on our phone or using Siri. And Siri cannot find anything.

It starts to raise questions about the business. Also, these are your customers, you want to make it easy on them as many ways as you can. And this is one of the most important ways that you can make it easier on your existing clients to find you.

And if they need to call you or contact you, you have your information out there, on a lot of different sites. Choose the sites depending where your customers are. They might love using local like to search for you. If that’s what they do and you’re not there, then it’s aggravating. They might go and find someone else.

Ron: Or they’re searching for you. They’re searching for your name, and you have a common name. And they’re giving search results from a different state or a different city. That doesn’t help right?

Ryan: Exactly. It leads to confusion.

Ron: Not to confuse or complicate it, but then you get people squatting on your search terms. And basically, what that means is if you’re searching for a dentist’s name and if you happen to have a similar or common name.

People are searching for what’s this dentist’s on Brown Street in Chicago. Well, there are dentists in Chicago inevitably. If they’re aggressive, they’re trying to take that business away from you.

Ryan: Yeah. An internet marketer such as myself can go in right now and create a strategy within a couple of days and own your name.

And I think that it should be an eye opener for some people. You don’t want to leave it up to somebody else to take over this for you and control that. You want to make sure that you’re doing this.

Ron: So what’s out there Ryan, as far as tools and advice for small businesses to just take a look and see if they exist anywhere?

Ryan: We have a listing tool on our site at PME360. You can go and fill in your business details and see just how you are showing up right now. See what sites you are showing up online.

Ron: And by doing so, the business owner could request this information and they could walk away with them. Easy to understand. These tangible action items are what they need to get started on their own.

Ryan: And I would just start going through the list of the top 20 or so local listing sites, claiming and optimizing those listings.

And it takes time. You’ve got to write a good description. You’ve got to get images in there. Make sure you are using all the categories that they allow you to use.

So like on Google Places, they allow you up to 5 categories. Just make sure you use all of them. And if they don’t have the category, type in a phrase that makes sense for what you offer. And at least get something in there.

And if it’s more keyword-focus or if it’s what people search for, then it’s better for you. You will have a better chance of showing up.

Make sure your profiles are 100% complete. If they offer images, then get some images up there. Even if it’s just 1 or 2 pictures.

Ron: So it’s safe to say that this would take a significant amount of time and resources. But what we’re trying to offer here is valuable information for that business owner that might not have a substantial budget to get this going.

So as we all know that budget is not just money. It’s also time and resources. However, this is something you can do as a business owner. And you can try dig yourself out of this problem.

Ryan: And interestingly, this week, we ran into the same situation twice. And I hadn’t run into it for a while. Which was, both local businesses don’t have a physical location.

They’re working out of their house. And there are a lot of people who are in this situation. So, you know, Google Places has done this many, many times. I know this works. If you have a P.O. Box that isn’t blatantly a P.O. Box. Like it doesn’t actually say “P.O. Box”. The listings that we’ve done that way are fine.

Ron: In other words, what do I use as my address?

Ryan: So like a UPS store or there are a couple of options out there. I’m trying to think of them.

Ron: …there are a number of places.

Ryan: But I’d never use my house for these local listings. Don’t use your home address because people move. They change addresses, whether they’re renting or buying a new house. And you have to go and change all this data if you do that.

So find a location that’s going to be your primary address for the life of your business and keep it. Because this becomes really, really hard over time if you continue to change your address and phone number.

Ron: Some people are going to say, “Well I don’t know that I’m always going to stay in this address.”

Look, we’ve had the same address for about 7 years now in Chicago. We weren’t sure if we were going to ultimately move or change locations. But we still have a hard mailing address. And it’s not at anyone’s house. It’s a business that exist. It’s a brick and mortar.

And like what you’re mentioning this week, partner with someone where you can pay a small fee to have a hard location. There are many offices I know in Chicago. There’s Ridges Offices. There’s Office Sharing. You don’t have to rent a suite but you can agree to pay the land lord or whoever owns the property. However the arrangement is. You can pay a small fee to have your mailing address there.

Ryan: Absolutely. It’s a small price to pay. I mean, $50 to $75 a month to have that location in the area that you are doing business in, or where you want to do business in. So, I am not saying to go out and do this in 20 different cities if you don’t actually work there.

Because I think Google will catch on to that if they haven’t already. They’ve kind of clamped down on that a little bit. But in theory, you could do that if you did want to target. You have a better chance of showing up, too.

And then, the big thing there is, if you want to have exposure for your business and you are using your home address – do you really want your home address to be used all over the internet?

Just think that it doesn’t make any sense. Then you can’t get a map listing if you’re checking off that you don’t do business in this location. So it won’t even reveal the actual physical address. It would just say that you work in Chicago, Illinois. But you don’t have an address. It just, to me it makes a lot more sense if you are working out of your house, to go get a P.O. Box (that doesn’t say P.O. Box).

Ron: Just to go back quickly, we’ve seen a lot of law firms that have 30 different office locations. That’s blatantly obvious. It’s not even possible to have 30 different locations in 30 different cities. They’re setting up addresses in this city. What does Google say about that?

Ryan: Well, in Google Places, they’re telling you to register only one location. And then you create a radius for all the areas you serve like 20 or 30 miles around that.

But that doesn’t work for the business that actually has physical locations and offices in other locations that have different phone numbers, right?

They are not all answered by the same person. They get mail at those locations. They actually need that listing. So for me, if you actually have an address and a unique phone number for all those other locations, set up that Google Places and listings for those locations.

And the key that I found is that you don’t want to drive (if you have a website), you don’t want to use the same website.  Don’t use the main domain for every single listing.

Establish your primary office and use your main website. And then build out office pages, for every page, for every city that you have an office in. And use that as your web address.

Ron: But what happens when you don’t actually have office locations or you just have a phantom address in multiple cities? Then that’s something that Google frowns upon, correct?

Ryan: Yeah. But at the same time, Google is not the police. You know, they’re not going to come and arrest you if you try it. So what’s the worst that will happen is that they’re probably going to take one of your listings. They’ll decide which ones are fine and which ones they will ban – until you remedy the problem.

We’ve done this many times where our clients loosely have offices in other locations like 5 or 6 other cities. And we do it exactly as that. We set up the listing, use a specific landing page for Boston, Detroit or wherever they’re located in. And use that listing that way. It works out pretty well.

The other thing I want to touch on real quick is the reason why it’s so important to have these local listings is that one of the people I talked to this week. He mentioned that he doesn’t have the physical address.

“Well, a lot of my competitors don’t. But there are a few that do. They have store fronts or office fronts.”

And I was thinking to myself, “Well, they’re already ahead of you by a lot.”

So internet marketing becomes so much important to you than them. Because they’re going drived by traffic. They’re going to get recognition by signs and people coming into their office. They’re going to look more professional. They already have a leg up.

So for all you businesses that think that don’t have a storefront and that are working out of your house, internet marketing becomes that much more important.

And you’ve really got to get this. You’ve got to do this better than the guy who has a store front.

Ron: Sure. That’s a good point.

Ryan: Because you are not going to get the benefit of those extra leads or deals that come from people seeing you.

Ron: And don’t just assume that because you don’t have a store front that you cannot work around it. We’ve just provided information to help you.

Ryan: Exactly. I think you can actually…

So you can keep your cost down by not having that store front. Get rid of that completely. Because most businesses we talked to, you don’t really need it. So don’t worry about having one.

But you’ve got to have a way of having that physical address that is not your house as it does not look professional. And it’s not the way to go.

Ron: We’ve got to talk about the validation. So now that you have an actual address established, let’s go back to you leaving your house searching for that dentist.

So now at least the location is established. Or you have your business in 100 local directories. You have your citations down (we’ve talked about this before). But now people that are searching for you can find you. This is the conversation I had yesterday with this gentleman out in Ohio was,

“Look I’m not being found by people who know my name.”

So this is a solution to that problem. And to go back to the topic of today’s call, some tips on what we can do to get started. Even if you don’t have a glamorous or huge website. One of the things you can do is make sure that you’re consistent in establishing these local directories.

Ryan: It’s the same idea with TV advertising. So you’re sitting down, you’re watching TV. And you see the same ads coming up. Maybe you already know the business. Maybe you don’t. But you keep seeing it. The thoughts that start entering your mind subconsciously is, “This company must be for real. It must have a big marketing budget.”

That’s how I’d think. Along the lines of like they’re everywhere. Wow, great! Even if I’m not interested in the product.

Same thing online. If you have all these listings that have all your information in there, that have images that look nice – each one of those can be treated as their own webpage.

You can use it in your business card if you don’t have a website. Use your Google Places page as your website. Shrink the URL using a URL shortener.

Just Google the term URL shortener, there’s a bunch of free ones. Use that as your free website or register a domain and forward it to Google Place page or a Yelp page. You don’t necessarily need anything more than that to get started if you don’t have a budget.

Ron: A great idea.

Ryan: So again, if you have all this information and it looks good, what do you think your prospects and the people who don’t know you are going to think?

And what do you think the people who are already doing business with you are going to think? They will look at you and say, this company is for real. And that’s all you want them to think at this point.

Ron: You don’t want them to question you.

Ryan: And they will. And they are.

So again you want to take up that the next step is to get that website. I now will weed out the companies I’m going to do business with by their website. Even though they have great information and I’m able to find them.

Ron: You’re talking about how you search.

Ryan: I’m taking that step further where we’re going to order Chinese food. And there are a couple of places. You’re in the Portland area and I went to 2 websites and narrowed it down.

I search for some reviews for both. And both were pretty good. Then, I went to their websites. I actually didn’t go to their websites until I look at their listings first. So just to see what other people were saying about them. Because I wasn’t going to waste my time. I did this all in under 5 minutes. I was not going to waste my time going to a website that had horrible reviews or whose rating wasn’t good.

Ron: You weeded the top ones and the bad ones were out. And you got it down the top 2.

Ryan: I did it in a matter of a minute or 2. This is how fast this happens now with people. They’re ruling you out versus ruling you in.

Ron: Absolutely. I do the same thing.

Ryan: So they’re in the process of getting through all these massive amounts of information fast. This is how we’re doing it now. And then I narrowed it down. I went to two of those sites. I looked at them. I looked at their menu. What sold me was how they had their menu showed.

One of them, it was so hard to get to their menu. God I can’t remember exactly how they had it set up. But the other one was a fast loading PDF, it came right up. And I believe I did this on my phone too. So this was even better. It was easy to see.

And that’s how I made my decision. And they got a $50 sale. That was pretty good. I almost wanted to tell the owner, “This is why I ordered from you. Good job!”

And I can’t be the only one who’s making that decision.

Ron: But I think you are thinking about it a lot. Everyone’s experienced it.

You’re thinking about it in terms of how a business is doing it. Because you know how to do it.

Ryan: just make it easy. Get your information out there in as many local sites as you can.

Ron: And think about just how many of these Chinese boxes aren’t even in consideration. How many were not even in consideration because they did not have the right directory. They didn’t have this sort of local listing present.

Ryan: And for me, there was this Chinese food restaurant that’s right around the corner from me. It would have been a 2-minute drive and I didn’t even give them a consideration because I couldn’t find their website.

I couldn’t find them. I don’t even know what they offer or how I am going to order it. I don’t even have a phone book. It wasn’t even in the realm of possibility of going in there, ordering and waiting.

It wasn’t going to happen. So I narrowed it down quickly to the two restaurants that have presence. And, BOOM! They got the business.

Ron: And think about how many other business categories that we see this happen in a big city like Chicago – there are 3 or 4 dentists on the same block or on the same neighborhood. There are 2 or 3 business professional services that are located right next to each other.

Ryan: Competition’s everywhere.

Ron: Chiropractors. You name it. So the ones who are aggressively pursuing and doing the smart things. Doing the things we’ve talked about today. I don’t want to go too far and say that they’re easy but they’re smart. These are ways you can get started immediately to ensure success for your local small business.

Ryan: The competition is everywhere. And if you’re in a small town and you think. “Well there are only 3 dentists”, think of that example that I gave about the Chinese food restaurant.

There are only 3 Chinese food restaurants in the area that I’m living in and one of them wasn’t even in the realm of consideration because they didn’t have any information. I couldn’t even find them, but I know that they’re there because I drive by them every day. And the other two, I narrowed it down and one of them got the business and they got a decent sale out of it.

Ron: And look, as a business owner, you can’t make the excuse that people are not spending money because people are.

The economy is not on fire but people are still spending money. I see it all the time – going out in the weekends even for a little bit of higher services. People are still in the market.  

There is still business to be had. So stop making excuses for “well it’s the economy” why you’re going out of business.

So there’s definitely people out there. You’ve got to get out and grab that business. You’ve got to know how to be found and tips like these are gold to me.

Ryan: Michael Gerber says in his e-Myth book all the time that if you don’t have the money and you want to start this business or you’re already in the business and you don’t have the money to do stuff like this or if you don’t have the time then you’ve got to find the money. And that’s just his point.

You’ve got to get the money. You’ve got to get the money. Go get it. Go find it. Find the money.

That’s his big thing. You’re trying to build a business and you don’t have the money. What are you doing?

You’ve got to have family, friends, investors or somebody that believes in you. If you don’t believe in your own product and service enough to go and get some money.

I’m not saying go and raise a million dollars but you’ve got to be able to raise something – to get the money, to get your website set up, to do some of these things if you don’t have the time to do it and learn it yourself.

Ron: And thinking about it, there’s really no excuse for it actually.

Ryan: There really isn’t.

Ron: Some of the people we talk to, the average sale. You get one sale and it’s worth $12,000. What are you doing? You’ll spend 200 hours on marketing. You tell me, where I can go and spend 200 hours to get a $12,000 return. And I’m there.

Ryan: Does it make sense for a Chinese restaurant to go and invest $2,000 a month on this? No.

 Does it make sense for them to invest something to get this set up the right way? Absolutely.

Because those $50 sales add up really quick on a Friday night. Or the people that are selling high ticket items: cosmetic dentistry, home improvement and hot tubs, etc. It really doesn’t take more than one of this sale to hit every month to pay for your time, hiring somebody or hiring a firm to do this.

The excuse of not having the money to do it is garbage to me.

And you’ve got to find the money somewhere. Whether you don’t have the money to invest like what I said $2,000 a month. You’ve got to find it to do some of it.

Ron: Well, if you don’t have a monthly budget. It’s a recurring monthly cost. I’d look at it though, as an investment.

But if you are looking at is as a cost then I don’t want to talk to you. But if you are looking at it as an investment, that’s the way you need to be looking at it.

But even the firm or the company or the small businesses that don’t have that, there’s one-time engagements that I know we offer.

You can do a one-time engagement for local listings pack. Boom! Done – you’re everywhere.

Ryan: You’ve got to start somewhere. Because the longer you wait. Just think that it’s going to get that much harder because there are companies that have already recognized this as important for the last couple of years.

And these companies have continued to grow and they’re gaining market share. And now they’re investing on other things like remarketing, nurturing and email campaigns. They are basically not letting go of people that they’ve already captured.

This is pretty powerful to understand. The longer that you wait, the more market share the other person gets.

And if they’re smart about what they’re doing, they’re not letting go of those people. So that slice of your pie is getting smaller and smaller.

Ron: And not only that, they’ve already paid and invested to get that following, to get that traffic. So as you mentioned before, forget about all the complexities. And that advanced stuff. That’s intimidating. And that’s what we understand.

We understand that, “Oh I’m going to do remarketing. I’m going to do your banner, etc.”

And you don’t know what the heck is this person talking about. Well, if you’re just getting started or if you’re just getting online.

First thing you need to do is claim your local listings. Get started with that. Do it progressively over time. Revisit building a website in a short period of time.

And like you mentioned, then you can start catching up with the marathon runners. Because you’re taking off from the starting line. Your competition is ahead of you. And some people are behind you. They’re not even listening to this podcast.

But some people, you’ve taken off from that starting line, you see the competition ahead, you’ve got to catch up. You don’t even have to go gang busters. You’ve got to do it smart. You’ve got to do it efficiently. And I think the tips that we have provided today is a very good start. Hopefully, we’ve been helpful.

We appreciate your time this morning. Ryan, do you have anything to close this with?

Ryan: Just reinvest in your business. Don’t treat every dollar that comes in needs to go in your pocket. I understand the issues that you have bills to pay and you’ve got a family to feed therefore you need an income.

I understand that. But you’ve got to be reinvesting in your business. And I think one of first the places is reinvesting in your marketing and your products and services and making them better.

I just think that’s very important. And finally, if you go the next step and get a website, make sure it’s mobile – that it renders well in a mobile device.

Like what we talked about, that’s why that Chinese food restaurant lost that deal – because it just didn’t render. I couldn’t see their information on my mobile.

They’ve done a couple of things right. And then they went to build a website that didn’t render in a mobile device.

You’ve got to at least have those if you do take that next step. That’s an important one in today’s market for local business.

Ron: That’s next week topic right there.

Ron: Great Ryan, I appreciate your time. Thanks for joining me again in small business growth podcast.

Ryan: Yeah, thank you.

Ron: We’ll be in touch.

Ryan: Bye.

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