Before I landed in the Search Marketing industry, I spent 25 years as a serial entrepreneur. So, I naturally think like a small business owner and am drawn to the intricacies of Local Search. By small business I mean small, tiny, micro – the solo enterprises, the service businesses with a few vans on the road, the retail shop proprietors with a handful of part timers, the professionals with a bit of office help-you get the idea.
There are millions of these little businesses out there and many of them would love to bring their enterprises online. However, they truly have a unique outlook and special needs. Only those search marketers who understand and cater to those needs will thrive in this relatively untapped arena.
Trust – These folks are their business. Without their knowledge and skills, it could not exist. They can only make money by doing their work well, so they need to be able to trust you to do yours well, too. If you don’t truly consider yourself to be a vested partner in their online success, this is probably not the type of business you should be promoting.
Realistic Expectations – Do your research into their market and their competition. Then, let them know up front what they can realistically expect from online marketing and then they can decide if it is worth it to them or not. There are too many snake oil salesmen in our industry – don’t be one of them.
Affordability – Most of these business owners operate on a cash basis. Their idea of a small business loan is a credit card that they strive to pay off every month. Borrowing money or dipping into their kid’s college fund to finance internet marketing is not in their DNA. Find out what they can afford and either tailor a worthwhile package that fits it or send them on their way.
Monthly Payments – These folks will not feel comfortable with large up front fees or long term commitments. Give them monthly payments and contracts with reasonable escape mechanisms. If it’s a seasonal business, try to tailor your payments to be higher when they are making the most money and lower when their cash flow is just a trickle. Also consider that April 15th –income tax day- is the financial low point of the year for most of them.
Proof – To get their business, show them real examples of other small businesses you have marketed. Once you have them as a client, give them very simple reports that get right to the point. The point is ROI.
ROI – Little biz can’t “write things off”. Every dollar they spend on advertising is a dollar they don’t have in their pocket any more and don’t have to spend on groceries or school clothes or more inventory. They need to see a measurable return on their investment month after month.
Simplicity – They’re busy working and don’t have the time or desire to understand all of the ins and outs of internet marketing. Don’t try to dazzle them. Be straight forward and keep things very simple and understandable.
Packaged Services – Put together a package that includes everything an entrepreneur needs to get started in internet marketing. Remember that they don’t necessarily need a website, but may do just fine starting with mini websites (aka business profile pages) in the right places. Include some pay per click advertising to help them to quickly see results. If they do have a website, you know they will need links, so include a few that you know will help them – not just with rankings, but with targeted traffic, as well.
While you won’t make a fortune doing internet marketing for one small business, you can be successful doing it for many of them. It’s relatively untapped market that is ideal for moonlighters, part timers and those just getting started with their own small business. Just keep the unique needs of these entrepreneurs in mind and you’ll do just fine!
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