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4 Simple Strategies For Local Business Promotion
By Sharon Fling

If you own a small local business, you wear a lot of hats. You probably don't have time to think up ways to promote your business online. No problem. Here are 4 simple strategies that can reap big rewards for your local business.

GET A WEBSITE

I don't care what anyone says, if you're in business, you need a website, especially if you're a local business. Contrary to what you've heard, it doesn't take a lot of time to get a website up and running. The key is, don't try to do it all at once. Rome wasn't built in a day and your website won't be either. Start small and grow -- but please, no tacky "Under Construction" signs. And with all of the low- cost low-tech solutions available now, there's no excuse for not having your own website.

YOUR URL ON EVERYTHING

If the public can see or hear it, put your URL on it. That includes business cards, letterhead, envelopes, bags, invoices, flyers, newspaper ads, voice mail greeting. Put license plate frames with your URL on company vehicles and even your personal vehicles.

EMAIL MARKETING

Another no brainer. Almost every business owner featured in the popular Local Success Series attributes their online success to the consistent use of email. Offer incentives such as free coupons, information, services, whatever you can to get them to willingly give you their email address. (WILLINGLY -- please no spam!) And once you get it, use it - - don't be afraid to email your customers. Just make sure you send them something of value and don't do it too often. There's nothing more annoying than joining a mailing list, then being bombarded with begging emails.

USE SEARCH ENGINES

Most people head straight for their favorite search engine (SE), directory or pay-per-click SE when looking for something online. Of all the search services on the web, the two most important are Google and Overture. Google is THE most important search engine -- it supplies results for many other search services including Yahoo and AOL.

Overture is strictly pay-per-click, and its top 3 results are displayed as the "sponsored matches" you see on Yahoo, Altavista, MSN, Lycos, and many other minor search services. If you want to be found quickly and are willing to pay, Overture is a good place to start. Otherwise, focus your efforts on getting into Google. And don't forget to include the name of your city, town, region or metro area, as well as local landmarks that prospects and customers may use as search terms.

That's it. Do these 4 things and you'll be miles ahead of almost every other local business out there. But remember, the Internet is just another medium, another tool in your marketing arsenal. If you want to maximize your advertising dollars, integrate your online and offline promotions. Use one to drive traffic to the other. Collect email addresses in both places. And leave your competition in the dust.

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Sharon Fling is the author of "How To Promote Your Local Business On the Internet", and publishes an electronic newsletter that gives business owners tips, tools and resources for targeting local customers. For more information, visit http://www.geolocal.com

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