How to Build Your Brand for your Small Business
As a small business owner, you don’t need a multi-million-dollar budget to make it onto the front page of the search results. You’re competing with big companies – and let’s be realistic, sometimes you can’t really beat them at their own game. They have the money and the reach.
However, if you position yourself correctly, you can make a good showing, especially on your home turf.
First make sure your website is SEO optimized – I’ve written other articles about it from a technical point of view. In this one I’ll share some ideas on how to make your small business competitive in a big market.
Know your niche
What is it that makes you stand out from everyone else? For instance, if you sell groceries you might not be able to beat the national food chains in price and selection, but there’s something that makes you special. Maybe you deliver, or stock fresh local produce.
Use those distinctive details to your advantage.
Use the right keywords
Add some long-tail keywords to your website that highlight your selling points, and be as specific as possible: “grocery delivery Adelaide” is much better than “grocery delivery online”. You can also add “near me” to some of your keywords: “grocery delivery near me”. Google uses that to pull in local customers who don’t want to travel to get what they want.
Make as big a splash as you can in your small pond. There are lots of things you can do to bring your name to mind for customers in your area:
- Completely fill out your Google My Business page.
- Let people know who you are – your brand, your values and mission.
- Reach out to local media, such as newspapers.
- Get local ratings and reviews.
- Get to know other local business people.
- Use your social media outlets.
Don’t get caught napping when it comes to your NAP
Your NAP – name, address, and phone number – is some of the most important information you can have online. Even if you are competing against international companies, you can still get customers who will support you because you’re local.
And if you work directly with customers your NAP is crucial. You should have it on every page of your website so they can find it when they’re ready to call or visit you.
If you’re a dentist, a patient with an emergency is going to be looking for “dentist near me” or “oral surgeon Adelaide”, so make sure your information is fully updated, correct, and consistent across all websites where your name might appear (for instance, Yelp or other review sites).
Consistency is important for your credibility with Google, and obviously you don’t want potential customers trying to call an outdated phone number.
Define your brand
The best way to pull like-minded customers is to speak your mind. You build loyalty when you share your values. So, talk about your mission on social media.
Organize or sponsor events relating to your values. You’ll be making the world a better place, and, as a not-inconsiderable side-effect, it’s great advertising.
People who think like you have the potential to be your most loyal customers, and you can use your passion to stand out in your local area.
Take advantage of your local media
Show up at local events and join the dialogue about happenings of local interest. You can use your social media presence to weigh in, and reach out to your local newspaper or chamber of commerce. Your name on those websites will help your credibility with customers in your area, and people are always most interested in news from nearby.
Keep tabs on your ratings and reviews
Look for your business on review websites such as Yelp, ReferLocal, SuperPages, Yahoo, and so on. You can see what people are saying about you and respond to complaints and questions. Links from websites such as these also help your search rankings, since web crawlers look for links from relevant websites.
Keep in touch with your community
All the businesses in your area share a common bond and common interests. Focus on what unites you with people in your area. For instance, you can get together with other local businesses and hold a fundraiser for your high school.
Build a relationship with your community, and your name will come to mind when other business owners are asked to recommend someone in your niche.
Put yourself out there on social media
You used to have to pay thousands for advertising if you wanted to get your message out to the public. Now it’s free, but some business owners still think of it as a burden. Think of it as free advertising instead. Share your thoughts on social media and let people know what’s going on with you.
Don’t limit yourself to just business matters, let your customers get to know you and your employees as people.
For instance, you could have ‘Bring your pet to work day’ and post short interviews of your employees with their pets. You can keep your name in front of people without aggressive marketing, it’s all in how you do it.
These are just some of the ways you can compete in the online world without a huge budget. Being a small business can have advantages over a multinational corporation – people see you as more manoeuvrable and responsive to your customers, and that can give you a competitive advantage.
If you want to learn more about Building Your Brand, read my book, or get in touch with us. We’re always happy to hear from you.
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