Research shows there are more than 5.6 million employer firms in the United States alone. Of those, 99.7% have 500 or fewer employees.
If you’re a small business owner, you know your local enterprise is a valuable and vital part of your community. However, without a steady stream of capital, you’ll run dry in no time.
Have you noticed your bottom line dipping lower than you’d like? Keep reading.
Today, we’re sharing how to grow your local business in 12 simple steps. Both cost-effective and creative, these methods can help boost your brand image and draw the kind of traffic you need to succeed.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
1. Start a Blog
Even if most of your income comes from foot traffic, it still helps to have a dynamic web presence. If you’re one of the 54% of small business owners who have a website, you’re already ahead of the game.
Yet, it isn’t enough to simply create a few static pages and hope that web users find you online. To keep their interest, you need to create the kind of helpful, informative, and relevant content they’re looking for.
The quickest, cheapest, and most effective way to do so? Start a blog!
Regardless of your niche, there are tons of topics you can write about to catch the eye of your target audience. From how-to guides to a Q&A post, research what your readers are looking for and deliver it to them! This strategy can help you nurture leads, build relationships and establish thought leadership in your space.
Be sure to share your posts across your social media platforms to maximize your reach and reader engagement.
2. Optimize Your Online Business Listing
Do you have a Google My Business profile yet? If not, it’s time to create one.
This quick step is critical if you want your small business to show up in local Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), including Google Search and Google Maps.
Within your profile, you can share the following information:
- Images of your storefront and inventory
- Special offers, discounts, and promotions
- Your business contact information
- An “About Us” paragraph
- An online messaging button
- A link to your website
- Directions to your brick-and-mortar store
In addition, web visitors can also access your Google My Business listing to leave your business reviews and feedback. Did you know that 84% of people trust online recommendations from strangers as much as those from friends and family members? The more five-star ratings you earn, the more interest you’ll generate!
If you already have an online business profile, review it often to make sure all contact information and images are up-to-date.
3. Automate with Apps
When you’re looking for ways to grow local business on a tight budget, you can’t afford to hire multiple employees to perform one function.
Thankfully, today’s powerful software market takes care of this burden.
In most cases, there’s an app that can automate even your most manual, time-consuming tasks. From accounting and inventory management to staffing and scheduling, there’s a platform designed to complete in seconds what used to take hours to trudge through.
Take note of how your employees are spending their time. Then, research apps that can help alleviate some of their menial work so they can focus on mission-critical tasks. You might spend more up-front, but the return will be worth the investment.
4. Consider 1099 Contracts
Do you need a full team in the office at all times to keep up with demand? Or, does your local business experience a surge in sales around the holidays or other times of the year?
If it’s the latter, consider subcontracting out some of the workload to 1099 employees. This is also helpful when you’re undertaking a special project that requires a unique skill set you don’t need any other time.
The hiring and onboarding process can be expensive and laborious. This can be a frugal way to get the support you need, at only the specific time you need it. The personnel expenses you’ll save include:
- Federal, state, and local taxes
- Worker’s compensation
- Social security benefits
- Medicare benefits
- Unemployment taxes
While the hourly rate of an independent contractor might seem high, you’ll spend less if you only need an extra pair of hands for the short-term.
5. Fine-Tune Your Budget
Small business owners know the importance of accounting for every dollar that goes in or out of the company. Yet, studies show that 61% didn’t create a budget last year.
Wondering how to grow your small business on a shoestring? You’ll need to understand your finances forward and backward.
Begin by writing down all of your fixed and variable monthly expenses. Then, take a look at what’s necessary and what you can live without. That gym membership for your employees might be a nice perk, but is it eating into your profits?
Create a realistic budget you can live with and stick to, and re-evaluate it often to make sure you’re still on track.
6. Find Free Small Business Resources
Wondering how to grow local business interest without breaking the bank? Why not ask someone who has already walked in your shoes?
In big cities and small towns alike, you can find small business development resources dedicated to helping you perfect your craft. Join a local trade group, attend a networking session, or visit your local chamber of commerce. All of these will provide you with the tools you need to grow your business and stand out in your local space.
Not sure where to begin? The Small Business Administration (SBA) operates Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) across the country. Find the closest one to you at this website.
Another helpful SBA program is SCORE, which provides mentors, webinars, and workshops to local business owners. Research shows that those who pursue three hours or more of training improve their business growth and revenues, so find a mentor!
7. Understand Business Tax Deductions
You could have a rockstar year, and then blow your budget on taxes in April. Rather than being ill-prepared, take the time to understand how business deductions work and find ways to save as much money as possible.
Keep in mind that the exact ones you can claim will depend on the type of business you operate. The government could also enact amount or timing limitations.
Find out all the specifics you need by visiting the IRS website. You could even qualify to deduct the interest from your business loan! If you’re unsure about how to navigate the jargon, partner with a business accountant who can help walk you through the steps.
8. Dominate Local Search
When someone searches for your local business online, how easy is it to find you?
While optimizing your Google My Business account is a great first step, don’t stop there. Develop a comprehensive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy that helps you generate the traffic and attention your business deserves.
One way to do so is to create content centered on local news and events. If your company serves multiple areas within a region, you can set up location-specific blogs, as well as separate “About Us” pages for each office.
You should also hone in on the specific keywords that your local audience is searching for. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to filter keyword searches based on location. This will tell you which terms are popular in a given region.
Use these terms in your site’s meta content, web copy, article titles and URLs to boost your online visibility. Other ways to succeed with local SEO include:
- Optimizing your website for mobile access
- Incorporating conversational, long-term keywords to optimize for voice search
Moving forward, desktop keyboard searches won’t always dominate the search scene. To remain relevant, make sure users can find your business by speaking into their smartphones, as well.
See also: SEO Essentials – Outrank Your Competition (For Free) in 2019
9. Get Social Online
Another free way to boost your brand presence? Make sure you have an active, updated profile on all the major social media channels, including:
Though you should share new content across every site, remember to tweak it, first. For instance, visual-heavy posts work better on Instagram while long-form content soars on LinkedIn.
In addition to posting, commenting on, and sharing content, you can also advertise on these channels. While it can be tricky to get this approach right, you can hire professional social media marketing services to build a winning strategy that results in new customer leads and sales.
You can also boost your social presence by asking for reviews across social media platforms. It never hurts to ask for reviews during or after checkout, or by sending a follow-up email or postcard reminder. These take near zero effort but has a lasting impact on growth potential. Regular, high-rated reviews help to convince and convert new prospects. Additionally, getting online reviews builds trust and even improves search ranking performance.
10. Invest in Pay-Per-Click Advertising
While social media marketing and SEO are valuable ways to grow your local business, they can take a while to generate the kind of quick profits your company needs to stay afloat.
That’s where Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising comes in.
With this strategy, you’ll have a presence in AdWords Search Ads, which claim the top four spots on Google’s SERPs. It’s free to be on the page itself, and you’ll only pay when someone clicks on your ad and visits your website.
A professional online marketing team can target your ads to appeal only to qualified and relevant visitors, increasing your conversion rates. In addition to Google ads, you can also use PPC advertising for Facebook ads, YouTube video ads, and more!
11. Run a Promotion
Want to bump up sales this quarter? Why not give something away or offer a special promotion?
Focus on items or services that are the most likely to draw in new customers or encourage repeat buyers to make another purchase.
You can also combine this effort with your social media marketing strategy to boost both initiatives! For instance, you can hop on Instagram and advertise an upcoming giveaway for a free product or service for your shop. To qualify, followers must “like” your page, comment and share the post with a few friends.
Then, you’ll choose a winner at random, increasing your online following and brand recognition in the process.
12. Embrace Video Marketing
Research shows that 64% of online viewers make a purchase after watching branded videos online.
Even if the fanciest camera you have is your smartphone, you can still create and upload a stunning video in a matter of minutes. Get creative and think about what your target audience wants to see. Give a behind-the-scenes tour of your shop, showcase a few key staff members, or film your manufacturing process in action.
You can also live-stream a company event and share it with your social media followers via Facebook Live or YouTube Live. This is a great way to put a face and voice to your brand and make it more personable.
How to Grow Your Local Business On the Cheap
There’s never been a better time to be a small business owner. Today’s software and tech tools are more innovative, far-reaching and easy to access than ever before.
If you’re wondering how to grow your local business without spending a ton of cash, the good news is there are plenty of tools that can get you there.
Connect with programs, platforms and professional teams that can help you stand out, earn recognition, and turn a profit without jeopardizing your profit margins. Often, the answer is as simple as hopping online, where you’ll find the help you need in a few clicks.
Looking for a team to take your local business to the next level? We’d love to help.
IntoClicks is a web design and digital marketing firm specializing in helping companies make the most of their corner of the internet. We provide marketing services to our local communities in Tucson & Anchorage and across the nation. Contact us to learn how we can help you grow and market your enterprise, starting today.