Small to medium-sized businesses in Collin County and North Dallas have an interesting challenge when it comes to marketing their local services and retail locations to those in Plano Texas, which has a population over 250,000. For the most part, the city (located in Collin County) borders on Dallas County; and this can present some challenges for the business owner and their retained marketing teams.
While the audience differs depending on the business owner’s industry, let’s take as generic an example as possible. Since most Plano residents do not use mass transportation, the majority of teenagers and adults who drive cars will need to have their car’s oil changed every few months. Assuming that most people do not, or will not want, to know how to change their oil then there is a demand for this service. How does a new oil change facility, or an established one, gain market share in Plano and from other drivers who are in town?
The Challenges For Those Who Have Not Started Online Marketing Yet
Here are a couple of problems facing the oil change facility new to the area as well as for those who have declined to start online marketing yet:
- With Google Places and Google Local Plus, the challenge becomes when a service has a North Dallas address; but in the real world people from Plano are more likely to become customers. All of the directories listing the business’ address, however, promote Dallas. This can cause some SEO concerns for reaching Plano residents through the search engines
- The fastest way to get exposure is to use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to send traffic to a web page. The costs for phrases like “oil change Plano TX” may be cost-prohibitive to the business due to the current amount of competition for that phrase. This does not include any “penalties” assigned by Google should the “Quality Score” (QS) of the page to which you are sending the traffic is not properly optimized to match your ad
- As with all paid advertising, once you stop paying the traffic goes away
- Search engine optimization, especially with the new Google Plus Local and Google Places optimization campaigns, are confusing to most people. SEO, while a fantastic way to get new customers, is a constant game of “leap frog”. If you are able to leap frog a competitor in the search engines then it is possible that, one day, another competitor can leap frog your website
- Video marketing is a great way to get exposure for any local business. The problem is that most business owners treat a YouTube video as a regular “30 second commercial” like they see on TV. In the online world, you must add value to the video viewer; and this is a tougher “shift” in mindset for the business owner than you might realize. Also, there are production costs to factor into the equation
- If you look at many local business videos you will see a glaring problem. A video has been uploaded for 6 months… and it has less than 10 views! You would think that a business owner has at least 10 friends and family members who would watch the video, but this points out a huge concern. Most business owners care about the lighting and graphics on a video… but they have no strategy of how to use that video (once completed) to get the word out about their business
- Online classified ads are great, but many have no marketing skill to create a call-to-action in order to get people to come to the specific oil change location versus that of a competitor
- Not many oil change facilities have social media properties, let alone reasons why a customer would want to join any of them. Most also do not even have an e-mail newsletter with tips, coupons or other incentives to bring in the cars of friends and family
- A press release announcing the store opening, or a new line of service, may not reach your audience due to several factors: timing, the style of writing, how the release is distributed, etc.
As you can guess, there are several challenges faced by local business owners… and this is not to pick on oil change businesses! There are some of these businesses who are using social media and other services tremendously in the area of Plano, Frisco, Allen and McKinney. I just wanted to give as close to a universal example as possible.
So How Do I Start If I Do Not Have Much Of A Budget Nor Much Technology Know-How To Rank My Website # 1?
This is a great question!
There are a few things which can be done which are inexpensive if you get outside help, and they even are no-cost if you learn how to do them yourself. Depending on your desired new prospects, here are things you can do:
- Use any e-mail marketing service for which you are currently paying. If you have ACT, iContact, Constant Contact or a similar program then take the time to learn how to give value to your customers. If not all of your customers are on your list then do what you can to get their permission to add them to your mailing list. This becomes an “asset” which you control which won’t go away for a long time. Make sure that your e-mails have an “opt out” (unsubscribe) option and are compliant with the CAN-SPAM rules
- If you know that your audience spends time on a particular forum relevant to Plano, Frisco or any of the other North Dallas and Collin County communities then discover what it will take to post helpful tips and answer questions on that forum. Build trust in that forum and have others sing your praises, both online and in the real world
- Have ways to get your customers to leave reviews on websites other than yours. For example, have your happy customers leave positive reviews on AngiesList, Google Plus, Google Places, your Facebook business page, Twitter timeline, Yelp page, LinkedIn and similar services
- Contact me regarding how to set up various alerts and notifications in order to be informed when someone in Plano (or coming to Plano) has posted something indicating a need for your service. You then will have ways to get in touch with that person or company needing your help
- Offer value by promoting an “education” event. For example, the oil change business can take an afternoon once a year and invite new drivers to learn how to check the tire pressure, check their oil, etc. Have the attendees take pictures and videos, and encourage them to share these with their friends
These are just a few of the ways to reach an audience who needs your service without having to go through paid advertising or using search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine marketing (SEM). Please note that paid ads and SEO & SEM are, indeed, worth your time. They just have drawbacks and costs like all marketing tactics.
In any local market, there are over 60 methods to reach a prospect who does not know you nor knows any of your current customers. Feel free to contact me to discuss how to customize these methods to come up with a plan that is tailored specifically to your audience and business. From there, we can discuss ways to put into place a customer “retention and referral” program so that a new customer you gain can become a lead source to help you grow your business quickly.