When you are a small business, more local clients online is all you can really think about. Yes you want to grow your brand and of course you want to gain notoriety and broaden your appeal, but as a local business, local recognition through local clients is what you crave. Follow this step by step plan to go from “online and been there for a while” with no discernible growth for your small business to being the talk of the town, business wise.
Website’s Created, Now What: Even if you have been in business for years, there is something of an Etch-a-Sketch moment for those new to the world of being online. All online presences start at essentially the same spot and those who are new to the Internet generally have to kick and claw their way up the page rankings. Even if you have been in existence for years; when you’re new to the online world you are basically brand new to the game. The only exception will be if people have been talking about you online but even if you’re a respected business in the community there’s likely as much bad online as good. You need to control your own image and that starts at square one.
Say you’re an accountant, Joan Smith CPA, and you’ve been in the Greater Danbury Connecticut area for three years. Maybe you worked with some local accountant legends before taking off on your own; but still; having only been around for three years and with a vast majority of us only having to think about accountants one time per year, the threshold to breaking into the world of local accounting is very difficult.
But you’re an accountant; you know there are scores of reasons that people could need to come to you. Maybe someone has started a business and needs financial help with that; maybe someone is hoping to break into the investing world and wants to discuss their options; maybe an individual has an elderly relative who needs help with estate planning. There are really many different reasons that someone could need to talk to Joan Smith CPA and your goal is to get to all these people in to talk to you. One of the big things you’ve got to do is get off the couch and mingle around the virtual room for a little bit. You need to get social Joan Smith!
Social Media’s the Name of the Game: Social Media is where a wealth of networking opportunities pop up all the time. The first thing Joan Smith needs to do is get on these websites. Of course the juggernaut in the room is Facebook; Joan Smith CPA needs to get started with a Facebook page right away.
The great thing about Facebook is that it is live and local. So once you punch in “Joan Smith CPA” and put in your location as “Danbury Connecticut,” then your name pops up as being that (accountant) in that location (Danbury). One of the things you’ll want to do right away is begin friending people from Danbury and the Danbury area. You want to start with people you know but then you want to “friend” people who aren’t really people at all. You want to friend the city of Danbury businesses page, the city of Danbury general page, you want to friend Western Connecticut State University; you want to friend the Mayor of the city, other leaders in the community, Danbury High School, Immaculate Private School, even Henry Abbott Technical School. These may be actual people in some cases; they may just be places to “Like” but if you’re in with these networks then you are half way there.
Social media also has advertising that you can do if you want to pay for it. While this may be something you wind up doing eventually the great thing about most of these online social media destinations is that you can set up a free page much to the same effect.
Directories: As your Facebook presence is growing you want to also make sure that you are in local directories. YellowPages, LocalSiteSubmit, Yahoo, and MyCity are some of the more popular ones out there. Websites like MerchantCircle, LinkedIn, WhitePages, CitySearch, and Local.com are all good as well. Of course the two behemoths in the room are Google and Bing with other more interactive sites like Yelp, Foursquare, and CitySearch coming in close behind. Getting your businesses name on these directories and in conversations is essential to creating and cementing your local online identity.
SEO: Once you have been around online for a while you may begin to get some response, but it’s going to take time. One thing that Joan Smith CPA can really benefit from is SEO articles written about her business; especially if these articles are written around the end of the year or maybe even a little earlier. From Thanksgiving to Easter is when people most have tax season on their minds and this is a great time to be popping up with SEO articles for your specific region of the nation with your name in them. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization; these articles will be rich with keywords like “Joan Smith CPA” and “taxes” and “income taxes” and “Danbury Connecticut” and “Fairfield County tax planning” and “Danbury business tax planning” and so forth. You should work with a local SEO professional who can help you get your message across at just the right moment.
Marketing: The final piece to the puzzle of having you and your small business more local clients online is marketing. You need to ensure that the marketing strategy for your online business makes sense for your needs. Much like the SEO (which is, in itself, marketing) you are probably not going to be doing all kinds of year-end tax planning marketing around the 4th of July. While you might want to keep a small presence year round your marketing should be applicable to your businesses needs and applicable to the time of the year that people would be online searching for your product or service.
As a small business more local clients online is the name of the game when you’re getting going. If you follow these steps you should be able to grow your business organically and get people in Danbury Connecticut and all over Lower Fairfield County excited about Joan Smith CPA. If your name gets big enough online you could open up “Joan Smith CPA” branded offices up all over Connecticut and New England and join the ranks of much bigger tax consultant chains before you know it. All because you got hip to your small businesses needs in the world of online client growth!