Is Search Engine Advertising Worth It For Small Businesses?

Over this past year I have noticed a huge resistance between small businesses and online advertising. Business owners feel that online advertising is no place for their brick and mortar business and the cost to do so would be more than they could afford. That couldn't be farther from the truth.

The fact is that 40% of searches done today are done looking for local information and 30% are likely to buy locally. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that you don't have a website and you couldn't afford one. A local listing on any of the major search engines local map listings is free and you don't need a website to be listed. If you do nothing else online for your business you should at least create a free listing. If a customer lost your address or phone number you will at least be found.




Why is a local map listing a great idea?

How about customers begin able to plot directions to you. Or, maybe find out what brands you carry, hours of operations, what form of payments you take, a link to your website or pictures of what your store looks like from the inside. You can even post a video or offer coupons. Can the yellow pages offer that? I don't think so. The fact is... by 2012 the yellow pages will be on the edge of extinction. Will your business be as well?

Paid search costs too much!

Hogwash! If you are a local business you will only be advertising in your location, during your hours of operation. If you are open 5 days a week you could be spending as little as $5 a day! Obviously, businesses in larger cities in more competitive markets will be paying more, but that isn't always the case. Keep in mind you can set a budget to how much you want to spend a day.

How do I know local search is for me?

That is the easiest question of them all. Do a search and see if your competitors are there. If you are a dentist .. search dentist and your city and state. What comes up? Do you see similar businesses? Well then you should be there too. Your competitor is finding new patients and making money. Why aren't you?

The US Census has stated that in 2009 55% of Americans own a computer. Keep in mind more and more people every day buy new computers and these numbers will grow. Especially with the cost of computers being more affordable now then they were just 2 years ago.

Advertising online is something many local businesses should consider. You can track clicks, emails and even calls. I use a great service for my local clients that lets me track calls made by local advertising. You also have more control over what you show people online. Unlike the yellow pages you can change your information and offers easily.

Paid advertising online can be an effective and affordable solution of local businesses. You can start advertising on the engines at around the came cost for an ad in a major newspaper. Don't be afraid to marketing your business online locally, you'll be glad you did.

About the author

Joe Balestrino is a search marketing expert. He has been helping business market themselves online for over 7 years. You can contact Joe regarding his services and how he can help you market your business online.


Great thoughts Joe. I agree

Great thoughts Joe.
I agree with you that there is an enormous opportunity for offline businesses to integrate an online marketing piece becasue it is so affordable and search results are getting much much better and more geograpically sensitive.
I would bet by the end of this decade that if small business are not using online they'll find themselves completely uncompetitive.

It is a great piece, but is

It is a great piece, but is it worth it "depends." Old sayings may sum it best: do not place your eggs all in one basket.

A marketing mix should now include online marketing, but the degree to which you advertise there should be proportionate to the degree you believe your clients will use online search to find your business.

A local gas station will not find itself uncompetitive without online advertising. Neither will the bakery next door. (I have one two doors down. The best advertising for them remains the aroma wafting from their doors each morning.) And just how far across even a small city are consumers willing to go for a new dentist, a computer technician, or even a well-reviewed eatery?

I recently provided marketing planning for a local massage business. In addition to encouraging the owner to increase their online marketing presence, I outlined steps for increasing neighborhood awareness. A well-designed building sign, direct mail to the business' neighbors, introductions to related small businesses in the neighborhood, etc. AND presence in online listings and Google local search = dramatic increase in business.

Let's encourage each other to use emerging tools to their fullest potential. But let's also remember the solid strategies that may even trump technology in effectiveness!

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