Marketing a new business can be a challenge.

There’s marketing strategy, building a brand, forming messaging, choosing the right marketing platforms, selecting your target audience, completing all the verifications…the list goes on and on.

I’ve worked with hundreds of small businesses over the years, and one thing I’ve found is the most successful businesses have a concentrated, strategic marketing strategy which they implement across multiple channels, whether they need them or not. I’ve seen small startups with 6 social channels and a 1-page website. On the flipside, I’ve seen 2-3-year-old businesses with 0 presence on social who have become overwhelmed trying to keep up with so many channels.

But do they really need to make all that effort, or is there a better, more targeted way?

For several years, I’ve been a proponent of “The Big 4” which I count as:

  1. Facebook Page
  2. Google My Business Page
  3. Website with Blog content
  4. Email marketing

I’m sure marketers somewhere will disagree with me (or have their own A list) but this is my blog so it’s MY ideas.

It may seem overwhelming to start, but if your business is a local business – especially a local brick and mortar business, the choices are much simpler…you HAVE to have a Google My Business verified listing.

 

Why you ask?

Because, without it, you don’t exist. Literally. In the eyes of Google.

 

Let’s start at the top.

You can have as beautiful a website as any company out there, but without a verified google listing, your business can never truly take advantage of Google Love (when google shows YOUR listing in its search results). Sure you can PAY for this service, but coming from a nonprofit background, I hate paying for anything I don’t have to and GMB is completely FREE to use (you do NOT have to run ads).

 

Here are 9 things you need to know about a GMB page for YOUR business

Find "My Business" in the Google Control Palette.
Find “My Business” in the Google Control Palette.
  1. Go to Google and click on the control palette (the 9 gray boxes next to your photo). In the control palette find Google My Business (you may have to click at the bottom for “more” if you don’t see it). Click on Add Location and begin entering information. The more details you can provide the better. Fill in every blank and upload your logo and at least one photo. If you aren’t able to post photos or logos you may need to verify your page first.

  2. Verify the page with Google. Be prepared to answer a call to your business phone number, upload a verifiying document like a lease, DBA, LLC or other paperwork that lists your name, address, and phone as it should appear (your legal identification information). Verification can take from 2 minutes to 2 weeks – especially if you elect to have a post card mailed to your business.

  3. Standardize your Name/Address/Phone number (NAP) everywhere. (this is the longest section because it is the most critical). Your NAP should appear EXACTLY how it does on your LLC, DBA or another business formation document. If even the tiniest thing disagrees, your search results will decrease. Here’s why. If my business address reads 2234 S. Main Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49008 on my certifying document, then google will ALWAYS refer to my address as 2234 S. Main Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. So when someone enters something different, such as 2234 S Main St, Kalamazoo, MI 49008 (not including. after S and St instead of Street) google goes, “Whoa, wait a minute! Is that really the right place?” That blip of a pause could cause your business to not show up with a “close enough” address. Be IDENTICAL across EVERY PLATFORM – website, social, email footer. Everywhere. PS: If you work from a home office, once you enter your address and confirm you can go back in and hide your street address and enter a Service Area instead.

  4. A GMB page is the single, most-used, easiest way for people to call you. Think about it. When you’re looking for a businesses’ phone number online, what shows up when you search their name? Their GMB page…with a big button that says, “Call.” You want this for yourself, right? Make sure your phone is correct and that the number is monitored regularly. Employees frequently use google search to find the company phone number call in sick (I have data to support this).

  5. Chances are if someone is searching for a business or service or product, they will 1) do a google search; 2) do a secondary search for more details if needed. Your goal is to prevent that secondary search by popping up exactly where they expect you to be. GMB pages are designed to be Mobile Friendly since Calls in one of the most-used functions of a GMB page (followed by menu, website, get directions).

  6. Once you have a GMB Verified Business Page, you can give google some of your money. You can click down the left nave bar to “Google Ads” (ADS) or “Create Ad” or “Adwords” (whichever they are calling it this month). It’s all the same—Paid Ads on Google. If you’re a local business, ADS could be a good place for you to get exposure for your business. If someone types “donuts near me” and your business is donuts, the theory behind ADS is that your business will show up somewhere near the top. Keep in mind you will never show higher than Dunkin Donuts or (in our area) Sweetwater’s Donut Mill. But you might make the first page; or the second if you’re lucky. Don’t spend more than you can justify on the Cost Per Click (CPC). I always ask people, “How much $$ would you give me right now to tell me about your business – even if you weren’t sure I was a buyer?” Whatever that number is, that’s what I advise them to start with for a CPC on their ad spends.

  7. You’re never going to get good search traction in Local Search Results if you don’t have a GMB page.

  8. Google is currently the #1 search engine, followed by YouTube. Since not so many businesses out there have YouTube channels, it makes sense to me to get along with “the Google” (can’t remember exactly who turned this into a phrase).

  9. GMB pages come with science attached. That’s right, you can get feedback on how well your listing is performing, how many people have viewed your photos on GMB, and even what time of day people are looking for you! I did a webinar with SCORE that is a mini-primer on How To Measure the Correct Marketing Analytics if you want to view it.

With Hubspot consistently reporting that more than 90 percent of internet users search via search engines every month, doesn’t it make sense to be where people are looking?

 

Your Google My Business local business listing is one of the easiest ways for people to find you, especially from mobile.

 

Your Google My Business listing allows customers to click to call immediately.
Your Google My Business listing allows customers to click to call immediately.

 

Once you get the basics and gain verification, be sure to keep the content fresh by updating it at least once a week (it’s not as important to post multiple times as many visitors don’t “follow” or look for you again after the initial contact). Google will even send you a little reminder that “It’s been awhile since your last post” so you can remember to update it.

Between posts you can add photos (don’t forget to give them targeted names in the titles), ask for reviews, run ADS, and so much more. Be sure to complete every option including hours, categories, keywords and tags, and locations.

Whatever you do, remember consistency is key when it comes to your online presence. If you can master having your NAP consistent throughout, you’re taking a major first step that many other businesses aren’t aware of.

If you want to talk Marketing, give us a call at 269-341-3786 or read more Marketing tips here.