Marketing your small business is tough. Between getting your products to market, meeting with clients, learning the names of customers, and keeping everything running smoothly enough to keep your doors open for another month, many small business owners feel overwhelmed when it finally comes time to do the marketing. It’s easier to fall into traditional marketing traps than to get creative with your marketing efforts. But dropping the ball on a creative marketing plan can be detrimental to your brand. Avoid these common local online marketing “techniques” and save your business from future headaches.
If I see another small business owner print cheap business cards with a company like VistaPrint with a QR code linking to a 10% off coupon, I’ll cry. Business cards are meant to share contact information with new customers and clients, not to link back to an inconvenient coupon hidden on the web. If you’re serious about offering a coupon, you should post it clearly on your site or through an official channel. QR codes are a dead-giveaway that a business is behind the times.
Craigslist started as a forum to buy and sell things in your community and interact with other community members. Over time, businesses began to flood the site with spammy messages promoting their own products and events without much regard for posting practices, common courtesy, or idea of the point of Craigslist. Craigslist isn’t an advertising platform and businesses who use it as such usually lose the respect of potential customers before they’re even through the door.
I see it all too often – businesses use keywords to stuff their ‘About Us’ page or product pages to drive local search results. While keywords can help customers find you, if your text is stuffed with unnatural sounding keywords just to attract local eyes, your brand will suffer the consequences. The web has seen an influx of keyword-saturated articles in the last few years and adding to the white noise of generic web-content will drive down your website retention rate and ultimately lower your search engine rankings, an undesired effect.
Fake Yelp Reviews
Yuck. When businesses figured out they could post fake 5 star reviews of their own restaurants or stores, the flood gates opened. It doesn’t take much effort to spot a fake, glowing review of a restaurant from a Yelp user who hasn’t reviewed much else on the site. Buying or posting fake reviews damages your brand and is bad for business no matter how you slice it.
Multiple Web Pages
Just because you have 5 business locations doesn’t mean you need to have 5 separate websites for each one. As mentioned earlier, trying to gain a slight advantage over the competition by having multiple websites for each of your locations packed with SEO fodder does more harm than good. While the idea may be tempting to keep all of your businesses separate, consolidating your information leads to lower maintenance costs, is less confusing for customers, and helps cross promote each location from a central site as opposed to spreading the information across the web.
Whatever marketing efforts you choose to pursue, make sure they’re benefiting your customers in some way. While the goal is to make money, doing irreparable damage to your brand in the process of marketing could bring your doors to a close sooner than you’d like.