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Let’s get one thing straight first, Inbound Marketing is very different to traditional marketing.

Local businesses often think they don’t have the sort of budgets required for a marketing campaign and there’s a reason for this.

Traditional outbound marketing campaigns are very expensive – even if they only focus on the local area -and consist of a variety of different advertisements:  television, radio, newspaper, billboard, etc.

Local business owners need to beware online advertising opportunities

And I include the more modern online advertising opportunities  in this.  I have listened to far too many misleading sales pitches from local advertising sales people and heard far too many tales of local business owners being hoodwinked by these.

If you’re going to run any type of paid online advertising – be it on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) or a search engine like Yahoo, Bing or YouTube, you need to know what you’re doing.  

Please don’t trust what you hear from the cold caller who happens to strike lucky when you pick up the phone on one of those vulnerable days when you decide to shoot the breeze to try to make something happen.

Yes, they may dazzle with you with tales of accreditations and certifications from all sorts of recognised online brands.  But the reality is that the sales person knows nothing about the advertising space s/he is selling other than what is written on a crib sheet.  His/her goal is to say pretty much anything to get you to sign on the dotted line for a monthly deal.

If you’re going to indulge in paid advertising, get a recommended expert to set up and manage your campaigns so that you can track your conversions and see your cost per acquisition decreasing over time.

Inbound marketing costs a fraction of the outbound outlay because it is all about creating online content, which is much cheaper to produce and much longer lasting: website, blogs, emails, eBooks, etc.  It has also not been designed to make money for a third party who puts buyer and seller together!

So what can an Inbound Marketing Campaign do for a local business?

A lot actually, here are the 6 main benefits of Inbound Marketing for local businesses:

  • Find New Markets

Your inbound marketing campaign is run online. This means it opens your business up to the 3 billion people using the internet around the world, not just the people who live near you.

If you use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) properly, you can get more traffic to your e-commerce website than you’d ever get people walking into your shop.

All they have to do to find you is perform a quick Google search!  Think Amazon, the humble online book store that became the world’s largest online retailer.

However, for local businesses that don’t have an online shop, careful keyword research, SEO and blogging can allow your business to get in front of the 67% of people in your area who have a problem that requires your services.  Not just the 3% of active buyers who already know that you sell the product they need and where you are based.  

Inbound broadens the reach of your business within your local community by giving the answers to popular questions that are being asked of Google and the other search engines.

  • It’s a 24/7 employee

Although your employees are a major asset to your business, they cannot physically, or legally, work for 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Your campaign will be bringing in leads even when you and your employees are tucked up in bed.   Better still, your campaigns don’t need pensions or holiday pay!

  • Security

Lots of small businesses have to rely on one large order or customer to keep their heads above the water.  Having a steady flow of new, regular work coming in from a little further afield will sustain the business and stop you from depending upon that one main customer.

  • Build trust in your business

These campaigns present your business as an industry expert online. Making you a trustworthy source of information for people to go to when they need to find out about your product or service. Creating this brand authority will mean people are more likely to share your product or service with their friends, creating more sales opportunities for you.

  • It won’t stop!

Inbound campaigns don’t stop working when your budget runs out. If you create a blog post on your website this year, it will still be working next year, with little to no maintenance! This means if you keep on creating them, you’re building a lasting asset for your business.  Inbound and Outbound are often likened to owning your own home rather than renting it.

Compare this to a radio ad that costs a fortune to produce but only gets played on air 20 times.

  • Measurable Return On Investment

If you run an advert in a newspaper, how do you know how many people have seen that particular advert?  You ask every new customer you see where they heard of you but it’s hard to measure accurately.  

Even when you are as sure as you can be that it is no longer working as well as any of your other advertising, you are still terrified to give up your regular ‘spot’ in your local rag because someone else will snap it up and you won’t be able to get it back.   

This fear of the competition getting ahead can stifle your entrepreneurial spirit.

Inbound marketing provides tangible data from which you can directly work out how much each new customer is costing you.

This, in turn, helps you to focus your efforts on either the more successful areas or the less fruitful areas of your campaigns.

Inbound Marketing is a great tool for local businesses. It can:

  • Help you find new markets,
  • Attract inquiriesries and customers,
  • Build your brand awareness
  • Work  for you 24/7 365 days of the year,
  • Allow you to grow your business  and
  • Give you peace of mind that the customers will keep coming in.

Click here to learn more about how you can use Inbound to attract people to your website who are really interested in what you do.

About Author: Jo Shaer of Lollipop has been helping UK businesses to improve their Local SEO since 2010. Now, rather than just a stand alone tactic, she uses it very effectively as part of an overall inbound marketing strategy.
Find out more at Lollipop or follow her  on Twitter @JoShaer
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