Comprehensive Local Store Marketing Plan To Increase Leads, Calls, and Foot Traffic

You have a passion. Or a skill. Or a professional degree. You also have a mind for entrepreneurship. You decide to combine the two and start a local business.

You find the location. You design a logo. You open your doors. And wait. For customers to walk through the doors. For the phone to ring. For submissions from your online form.

Now what?

Our population continues to rise. Cities become denser. Suburbia sprawls further. People have so many choices.

How do you successfully market yourself and your business to establish or increase your customer base?

This process can be a challenge for both new and existing local business owners.

Fear not – a local store marketing plan can help. 

In this guide, we’ll review local store marketing and how you can optimize your web presence as part of a comprehensive local marketing plan.

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Local Store Marketing Meaning

Local Store Marketing (LSM) is also referred to as Local Marketing. Essentially, it is directing your marketing efforts to the population around your business’s physical location.

LSM can appear in many forms:

  • Online presence with local connections
  • Billboards
  • Flyers
  • Social Media ads
  • Google Adwords
  • Print ad space
  • Televised ad space
  • Local partnerships
  • Mailers
  • Referral programs
  • In-town events
  • Sponsorships

Any actions you take to put your business and services into the minds of the population who frequent the general vicinity of your business, can be considered local store marketing.

Many business owners simply don’t understand what type of marketing REALLY matters. What methods will be best for YOUR business?

Local Store Marketing Activities Should Depend On YOUR Business

When developing a marketing plan and choosing which activities to invest in, it is important to spend time determining what will work for your business.

Facebook ads may work for your friend Janet who owns a store selling organic pet food. This does not necessarily mean they will work for you.

For the sake of this guide, let’s say you are a dentist in Portland, OR, looking to increase your customer base.

You will need to:

    1. Determine the needs of your local population
    2. Develop a clear objective with measurable results
    3. Outline a comprehensive local store marketing plan
    4. Create/optimize your web presence for local searches 
      • The following five-step guide will show you how to do this

How to Optimize Your Web Presence as Part of a Local Store Marketing Plan

Optimizing your web presence for local searches doesn’t require a marketing degree

But, you will need to invest quality time and effort into:

  1. Researching your potential buyers 
  2. Creating and optimizing your Google My Business presence
  3. Optimizing your website for local searches
  4. Connecting your Google my Business property with your website
  5. Generating Google reviews

Some of these steps can be completed quickly while others will require patience and thoroughness.

Step 1: Understand how your buyer persona searches for your product/service

One of the most important things you can do to improve your leads from local searches is to take the time to learn about your current customers’ online preferences:

  • What search engine do they prefer?
  • How are they searching?
  • What social media platform do they spend the most time on?
  • How likely are they to click on an ad as they scroll through social media?

You can do this generically by analyzing your customer base and researching the online habits of their:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Socioeconomic status

You can get more specific results by surveying your customers directly.

Remember, for the sake of this guide, we are pretending you are a dentist in Portland, OR. You might ask your patients to complete a survey after their service. You can use the survey results to compile findings on how they discovered your business and how they spend their time online.

If it turns out your customers aren’t spending time on Instagram, you know it would not be cost-effective to buy ads on that platform.

Local store searching has changed

Smartphone use has increased exponentially over the last decade. People are performing an internet search from the palm of their hand right when they think of something they need.

When Portland resident Scott has a toothache, he doesn’t have to wait until he gets home or to work to pull up Google on his computer to find a dentist. He pulls out his phone and searches “dentist near me” or “dentist in Portland.” 

When it comes to generating local leads via Google, you need to optimize your business for “near me” searches.

If Scott is in Portland searching for a dentist near him and your office doesn’t populate in his search, he will likely never visit your office.

“Near me” searches have risen dramatically in the last five years:

Taking advantage of these types of searches is crucial. People want what they want and typically want it right away.

Your dental office might be right around the corner from Scott, but if your web presence is not optimized, he may unintentionally overlook you.

So what can you do to improve the position of your business in Google? 

Read on to find out.

Beachfront real estate on the internet - the “Local Pack”

Google users, especially those on a mobile device, want relevant information quickly. When performing a local search, they don’t want to spend time scrolling multiple pages of results to find what they need.

To meet this demand, Google has created the “Local Pack.” This is what we call beachfront real estate on the internet. 

If we search for “dentist in Portland,” this is what the result page looks like:

The businesses outlined in red are part of Google’s local pack. They appear under a Google Maps image. There are typically three results that populate in this section. This search includes a paid ad at the top so there are four results.

These results will vary widely based on a user’s exact search. 

Queries such as…

  • Dentist near me
  • Dentist Downtown Portland
  • Best dentist in Portland

…will affect what Google’s algorithm will generate.

Over 50% of initial clicks for local searches happen within the local pack. 

You cannot underestimate the potential lead generation of populating in Google’s local pack.

So, how does a local business break into this coveted internet real estate? 

To rank in this three-pack, you must create or optimize your Google my Business (GMB) profile.

Step 2: Create (or optimize) your Google My Business property

If you have not already created your Google My Business account, drop everything and do it now. It is the simplest and most cost-effective (read: FREE) step you can take to increase your web presence.

Google My Business will allow you to:

  • Interact with your customers
  • Give customers every option available to reach you
  • Discover how people are connecting with your business
  • Massively increase your local digital presence
  • Generate new leads

Most importantly, an optimized Google My Business property is ESSENTIAL to ranking in the local pack. 

Once you have established your Google My Business, there are four action items to complete to help with GMB property optimization:

  1. Add keywords to your GMB title
  2. Add keywords to your GMB description
  3. List the products/services you provide in the GMB “Services” section
  4. Link your GMB property to your website

Action 1: Add keywords in your GMB title, if possible

Let’s get back to Scott. His tooth still hurts and he can no longer put off a visit to the dentist. He’s at work and hopes a dentist close by might be able to get him in today. So he Googles “dentist near me.” 

To rank in the local pack, some form of the word “dentist” better appear in your GMB title.

For example, when searching for “dentist in Portland, OR,” you’ll see that every ranking business has some form of “dental,” “dentist,” or “dentistry” in their GMB title.

What happens to a business that doesn’t include an essential keyword? 

Take a look:

This dental office has over 100 excellent reviews. But they didn’t rank in our search, much less populate in the three-pack. 

If “dentist” or “dentistry” were part of their GMB title, it could help improve their Google ranking for dentists in Portland.

Editing your GMB title:

Your GMB title must reflect the actual name of your business. 

If a keyword you want to rank for is not in the name of your business, you have two options:

  1. Skip this action item. The other action items to optimize your GMB property will still be effective.
  2. For a small fee, you can create a “Doing Business As (DBA)” and use it as your legal business name. This would allow you to update your GMB title.

When you’re ready to edit your title, you can do so in your GMB profile.

Action 2: Optimize your description with keywords

Keywords aren’t only important in your GMB title. You’ll also want to optimize the description of your business with target keywords. This will display in the “From the Business” section of your Google My Business.

Let’s look at the description for one of the dental offices that populated in the above local pack:

If someone in Portland is searching “dentist in Portland” or “dental services in Portland,” this description tells Google’s algorithm that this business is a good match.

When drafting your description, think carefully about what keywords are most important to you and your business. Incorporate them as naturally as possible into the “From the Business” section of your GMB profile.

Action 3: Add as many products/services as possible

Because a high percentage of Google users are searching on a smartphone, it is essential to optimize your Google My Business for mobile use. 

Not doing so can cost you potential customers.

On mobile devices, Google My Business has a “Services” section. Adding a comprehensive list of your business’s products or services to this section can help your local search ranking.

If a user searches “teeth whitening near me” and your GMB includes “teeth whitening” as an offered service, Google’s algorithm will identify a match.

An optimized “Services” section will be thorough and list as many services/products as possible:

The more information your GMB profile lists, the more likely you are to match keywords in user queries and rank for local searches.

How to edit your GMB Services section:

  1. Access your GMB account at google.com/business
  2. Find and choose the “info” tab in the panel on the left
    • Your business details are located here 
  3. Click the “edit” icon (looks like a pencil) next to “Services”
  4. Add in your services/products
    • You can select from suggested services or add custom services
    • For best practice, organize your services into sections

Action 4: Link to your website

Google’s algorithm can do more than evaluate the information you provide in your GMB profile. If you link your website to your GMB, it will also scan the content of your website. 

If your website contains content related to a search query AND Google can identify that you are a local option to match a “near me” search (GMB), your likelihood of appearing in the local pack increases.

Content can include:

  • Blog posts
  • Product and service information
  • Links to articles related to your products or services

To be sure it is recommending high authority local businesses, Google looks for website content that:

  • Matches target keywords
  • Adds value
  • Contains relevant images and videos
  • Links to other high authority pages (internal and external)

How to link your website in your GMB profile:

  1. Login to your GMB account at google.com/business
  2. Locate and click the “info” tab in the menu on the left side
    • This is where all of your business details are located (address, phone number, hours of operation, etc.)
  3. Scroll down to “Add Website” and click the pencil icon
  4. Insert your website address and click “apply”

Your website is now linked to your Google My Business page.

Do you find it difficult to keep your website relevant and full of content? 

Not all local business owners are web developers. And that’s okay.

At Becoming Media, we specialize in creating value-adding content to our clients’ websites. If you’re looking for outside assistance, we’d love to audit your website and let you know what might help generate more leads.

Step 3: Optimize your website for local searches

At this point, your Google My Business property should be optimized. Your website is linked to GMB. Your next step is to ensure that your website itself is optimized for local searches.

How can you accomplish this?

In addition to developing high-value content, there are two simple actions you can take. Keep scrolling to learn more.

Site architecture for products/services

The first thing you can do to optimize your website is to build site architecture around the products/services you offer.

Your dental office, for example, might have an architecture that looks something like:

  • .com/services/crowns
  • .com/services/cleaning
  • .com/services/dentures 

By having designated space and URLs for your services, Google will view your business as “high authority” when compared to other websites.

Local landing pages for neighborhoods/zip codes you serve

In addition to landing pages for services, you can also make yourself more locally relevant by creating landing pages geared toward the communities closest to your business.

Your dental office in Portland could have pages for multiple neighborhoods:

  • .com/lake-oswego
  • .com/downtown-portland
  • .com/northeast-portland

These landing pages might include:

  • Directions to your business from the corresponding neighborhood
  • Reviews from current customers who live in the neighborhoods
  • Community partnerships/sponsorships

The more correlation you can make between your business and the surrounding community, the more authority your page will have in Google’s algorithm.

Step 4: Embed your Google My Business on your website

How can you create even more authority within Google’s algorithm for local searches?

Embed your Google My Business property on your website.

Taking this step makes it clear to Google that you:

  • Are who you say you are
  • Do what you say you do
  • Are located where you say you’re located

A logical place to embed your GMB property is on your “About” or “Contact” landing pages. It will appear as a Google Maps location:

How to embed your GMB on your website:

  1. Search your business name on google.com/maps
  2. Find and click the “Share” button under your business name
  3. Select the option to “Embed a map”
  4. Click on “Copy HTML”
  5. Incorporate the HTML code into your website
    • This process will vary depending on the platform used to host your website

Step 5: Get as many high-quality reviews for your Google My Business

Do you place an emphasis on Google reviews for your business? 

If not, you could be missing out on potential customers. 

When searching for a service online, 93% of consumers say online reviews influence their buying decisions.

Additionally, reviews have an impact on your ability to rank in the local pack.

If you don’t have many reviews, but your competitors a lot, it will be harder for you to rank locally.

In our previous search for “dentist in Portland, OR,” the three unpaid results in the local pack have high review numbers:

Benefits of Google reviews:

  • No-cost advertising
    • You can engage with customer reviews at no cost
  • Higher Google ranking
    • Google’s algorithm gives preference to businesses who have high numbers of positive and recent reviews
  • Reviews = Leads = Purchases
    • Consumers rely on reviews – do not overlook this

When generating reviews, be sure to follow Google’s guidelines. You should not offer incentives to customers in exchange for positive reviews.

To generate reviews:

  • Create a short URL that allows customers to easily access Google reviews for your business
    • Add this link to your website
  • Be direct – ask your current customers to leave you a review
    • Don’t be intimidated by this – according to one study: “68% of consumers will leave a review if asked.”
  • Send a personalized follow-up email with a review request and include your short URL

Finally, when customers leave reviews on your GMB page, interact with them:

  • Thank reviewers
  • Mention that you’re looking forward to seeing customers again
  • Respond to concerns (to a degree – don’t escalate complaints)

Potential customers who see your interactions will know that you prioritize customer service and satisfaction.

If this process seems daunting to you or if you don’t have the time to devote to optimizing your GMB profile and website, we can help.

Becoming Media will audit your website and evaluate your current web presence. If there is room for improvement, we’ll let you know. We can help you optimize your GMB profile and enhance or create value-adding content on your website.

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