Top 7 Ways to Promote Your Local Business

Common ways to advertise include the newspaper, the yellow pages, billboards, direct mail, radio, and TV. The Internet offers the ability to advertise on other websites. Examples include your local chamber of commerce, the local newspaper, and other local websites that might be seeing a lot of traffic. Still more Internet options are pay per click advertising which can include text, image, and video ads. There’s also email marketing and search optimization of your website.

For many businesses advertising is one of those many things that has to be done but is not given a lot of attention. It’s understandable because often times businesses, especially small ones have so many different things to handle. The business owner can’t be an expert in everything. So they agree with whatever advertising comes along. They do what everyone else is doing. They don’t put much thought into it.

Businesses often look at their competition and do what they do. If their closest competitor advertises in the newspaper they do it too. If their competitor is on the radio they better do that too.

But how much thought is given to what works? A lot of money is spent on advertising. It’s a large part of many businesses budgets. But the return on investment is often unknown. Part of the reason is simply that it’s difficult to track some forms of advertising. Especially when multiple forms of advertising are in use at the same time. If a customer hears your ad on the radio 20 times and sees your newspaper ad 10 times even they don’t know which advertising media was responsible for acquiring their business.

Let’s go through 7 ways to promote a local business. I’ll make the assumption that the business is seeking customers who are local. This means the customers are physically located within about 50 miles of the business. Most businesses fall into this category.

1. Newspaper

Your local newspaper offers many options with a wide range of prices. Newspapers are still very popular. Many people still read newspapers and will see your ads. This can be a quick and effective method to bring in new leads and customers.

2. Yellow pages

The yellow pages are still being used, but because of the Internet, the hard copy form is not as popular as it once was. The yellow pages are online too. You can have your business listed in both the online and offline versions of the yellow pages. The online version is one of the many online business directories that exist. You can have your business listed in it for free or you can pay for a more detailed listing with added features. My recommendation about yellow pages is to use the free listing.

3. Radio and TV

Radio and TV are certainly effective but usually more expensive than other options. When you think of radio and TV you think of branding your business. Using repetition to get your business branded in the minds of people. But this can be expensive because it takes a lot of repetition to brand a business. You can still use TV and radio to advertise in a more direct response method rather than trying to do branding. This would be more effective and efficient. For example, rather than just trying to get people to remember your business name so that they hopefully do business with you at some point in the future, have your ads directly ask for action. Ask them to call or visit and give them an incentive to do so.

4. Direct mail

Using direct mail is sometimes thought to be outdated. The Internet is the new way to advertise right? Actually direct mail is as good as it ever was. It may be even better now since fewer people are using it because of the Internet. Using direct mail in the right way can be extremely effective. The key is to mail to the people most likely to respond and to have your mail express a clear offer with a clear call to action.

5. Networking and referrals

One of the most powerful ways to acquire a new customer is through a referral. Referrals can be guaranteed sales. They pass trust to you from the person referring you. Local business networking groups are an excellent way to get referrals. Certainly friends and relatives are good examples of people who can refer your business to their friends. Events held by your local chamber of commerce are loose networking events that can result in referrals for business. Don’t underestimate referral networking if you are looking for local customers.

6. Your Own Website and Online Directories

The Internet is another way to generate leads and customers. You don’t need a website because you can still have your business listed in online directories. Some of these directories include the yellow pages, the Google business directory (Google Places), the Yahoo business directory, the Bing business directory, Merchant Circle, Yelp, Four Square, City Pages, and more. There are hundreds of online directories. It’s wise to seek out directories that are relevant to your business. For example there are directories for women’s health so if your business is a women’s hair salon you could be listed there.

I mentioned that you don’t need a website, but it’s better to have one. A website strengthens your online presence and helps your other business listings rank higher in search results. It makes it easier for people to find your business when searching online. In most cases people expect businesses to have a website. It’s a sign of professionalism to have a website.

7. Pay per Click Advertising

Pay per Click advertising involves setting up ads that show online, that when clicked on, bring a visitor to your website. For local businesses seeking local customers Pay per Click advertising is challenging. It also has its advantages. If set up correctly you can use it to target a geographical area. That’s great for a local business! Your ads can be shown any time of day. You can put limits to how much you want to spend per click and per day. You can turn your ads on and off at any time. You can target people who are searching using specific search terms. You can get people who are ready to buy from you to come to your website! That’s very powerful.

The challenge with Pay per Click advertising for local businesses is that it’s difficult to get much activity. Especially if your local area has a low population. Part of making Pay per Click advertising work is testing. It’s hard to test and make good decisions when you don’t have much data to base those decisions on. However, if you can manage to organize your ads so that you’re getting good leads that result in customers you’ll have a great asset.

What you really need to know.

No matter what form of advertising you use there are a few things you must know. Your advertising won’t work and will be a waste of time and money if you don’t follow these tips.

1. You must aim your advertising at the right people. Aim it at your potential customers. Choosing the right advertising media helps.

2. You must catch the attention of those people you are advertising to.

3. Your advertising must include a call to action and a reason that someone should act.

4. Your advertising should not be confusing to its audience. It should be simple to understand.

5. Your advertising should not be the same as everyone else’s. It should stand out and be different.

For more about local advertising visit our website at http://www.databae.com.

Entrepreneurs Must Focus on Their Core Business

“You know me as a wine expert, but in another life I would have been a bishop or a dry cleaner, or a dry-cleaning bishop.” Oz Clarke

Your core business
Now to take you through some concrete examples from the four business attempts mentioned in my earlier post, “Do what you do”.

Importantly, all the businesses were started by guys who had at least five years’ experience in the waste management industry. These entrepreneurs all had great experience in the sales and operational aspects of their employers and decided to go out on their own, within the same industry. Three of the employers were huge waste management companies that had existed for many years and still do. They held contracts for the waste management and removal of a variety of sites including office and business parks, restaurants and hotels, shopping centres, sports facilities and other venues.

The point of my short case studies is that your business should focus on what it does. Focus on core business. Sound simple and rather obvious? Read on…

The first business
“John” was off to a flying start and by focusing on sales of waste management service contracts, he was quickly able to keep his small truck occupied during all working hours. After approximately a year, he successfully bought another truck due to the increasing demand for his services. The business successfully serviced its clients and looked positive.

A few months after acquiring his second truck, and with the “green” movement burgeoning, it was suggested to him that he include on-site recycling in his services. He offered this additional service and soon found a keen following by shopping centres. They would have his staff on site in their refuse areas, removing recyclable matter (such as tins, plastic and cardboard) from the waste stream and then he would sell those recyclables entirely for his own profit, with no rebate to the shopping centre. John thought he had hit a gold mine.

He began to roll out this service to many new customers and was soon removing recyclables from a variety of sites. His customers were thrilled to be supporting an environmentally sensitive business and being able to “green” their waste stream. This removal of recyclables had the apparent effect of reducing the waste that needed to be removed and thereby correspondingly reduced the monthly waste removal charges.

Fourteen months later, he closed his doors. Bankrupt.

John had stopped focusing on his core business of waste management and expanded his services beyond what he knew to work. He had done no viability study on a substantial variation in the direction of his business.

John’s small trucks were excellent for removing waste from tight refuse areas in office blocks, residential complexes and other difficult-to-access areas. Those same small trucks were terribly inefficient at transporting recyclables for resale, which is largely a volume-driven enterprise. His trucks now spent all day transporting recyclables to recover a small rebate on a small load and their availability to remove waste decreased. The business never recovered because his customers were loath to return to the more expensive service with which he had initially secured their business, namely the removal of all of their waste for a fee. They expected to be billed only for the removal of non-recyclable waste.

The second business
“Derek” worked for two years for John’s business and when it was shut down, he essentially agreed with John that he would obtain a vehicle, take over John’s customers and make a go of running his own waste management business. To a large degree, he founded his business (rather curiously) on essentially the failed business of John. Years later, Derek’s business still exists.

John’s customers’ refuse areas had deteriorated into complete disarray with the demise of his business. Derek was able to take them over with relative ease, as the customers’ need was desperate. However, in order to appease them for the disaster left behind by John, and the fact that they were now accustomed to smaller monthly waste removal charges, he was able to convince them to return to their original service only by discounting his price. This price was somewhere between their original fee and the reduced fee after John reduced their billing only for the removal of non-recyclable waste.

From the outset, Derek intended to make up this shortfall in the discounted price by continuing to remove and sell the recyclables to third parties who would collect those recyclables from each site.

So Derek removes their waste at a discounted price, subsidised by his sale of the extracted recyclables.

His business model is different to John’s but importantly, he has been consistent in continuing to apply what works for him. This is not to suggest that any business should be stubborn and rigidly set against exploring opportunities. I merely suggest that many pitfalls and distractions from the core foundation of a business are disguised as “opportunities”. Remember all the long-lost relatives that suddenly materialise when a wealthy person passes away? And all the “opportunities” that pop up as your business becomes successful? Do what you do and do not lose focus on your core business.

The third business
“Bob” was off to a humble and low-key start. He was realistic about where his personal abilities and strengths lay and decided from the outset to align his business with a small start-up waste removal business. The businesses effectively merged and became one entity, almost from the outset, and it was agreed that he would obtain the service contracts and the business partner would manage the physical removal service and operations. Bob was excellent at sales, while the allied business owner excelled at operations management.

Bob held a steadfast and single-minded view on his business – he was in the business of removing other people’s rubbish.

As his success grew, he was presented with numerous opportunities, including one to remove and dispose of hospitals’ medical waste. The contract was worth an enormous amount of money but at the time, he turned it down, categorically maintaining his approach: that he knew nothing about, and was not engaged in, the highly specialised business of medical waste. Slowly, but surely, his business grew and eight years on, it was thriving and Bob insists “I am just a simple dustbin man.”

The fourth business
The last short case study is the famous exception that proves the rule.

“Roger” worked for over thirteen years for the second largest waste management company in the country. His experience ranged from sales, to marketing and operations until, for the last five years at that employer, he was employed as the general manager.

His attempt to start-up his own business was tainted by dubious and unethical approaches to many of his former employer’s customers. On the back of that customer base, he initially made great strides forward before, in a rather karmic puddle of self-pity, his business fell flat.

A few years later, he made another effort at the same business, offering all sorts of additional services, specialised waste container bins and presumably the same nonchalant approach to business ethics. Despite a specific business plan, vast experience, resources and a specific focus on his core service offering, the business failed again. Roger was not distracted by “opportunities” and retained his focus on the core business, but he started from a compromised position – one in which his questionable business practices tainted his efforts like fruit rotting from its core.

What is your core business?

Remember, you started your business with a specific vision/product/service in mind. Until that is stable and old enough to go to the loo by itself, do not be distracted by possibilities and seeming opportunities. Do what you do and focus on your core business!

Why The Legal Structure Of Your Business Matters

When starting a new business, it is necessary to determine which legal structure your business will fall under. There are several different ways a business can legally be structured, so it is important to have a good understanding of each structure before making your choice. The legal structure of your business can affect many different things, including the following:

*Your ability to have adequate protection against potential business risks

*Your individual and business tax liability

*Government regulation over your business

To help you make a more educated decision, here are a few important things to know about three of the most common business legal structures. Make sure to consider the advantages and the disadvantages of each legal structure. Because this decision may have a lasting impact, it is often recommended to speak with a professional who can help you make the best decision.

1 – Sole Trader

If you are running a business entirely on your own, you may want to consider registering your business as a sole trader. This is generally viewed as the easiest method because there are fewer people involved in the decision making and there are also fewer government regulations. However, for many newly forming businesses there are multiple people involved in the ownership and management of the business, making this option impossible.

Under a sole trader, the business owner is in complete control of any company profits and responsibilities. Although convenient, this also leaves the owner entirely responsible for any debts the business may incur. Some business owners view this liability as undesirable because there is such a huge responsibility and risk placed on only one individual.

2 – Partnership

If you are joining with another individual to start a new business, a partnership may be a good option for you to consider. In a partnership, both parties are equally responsible for the business. Under this type of a structure, business decisions that are made by one partner, even without the consent of the other, fall under joint responsibility. Partners also share in all business profits and any incurred business debts.

Many business owners like this option because the two different individuals can bring together a wider variety of experience and expertise than one alone. Many also prefer the combined liability because it leaves less pressure and potential risk on one individual. On the other hand, whenever there is dual ownership, there is also the inherent risk of disagreement and a lack of mutual cooperation. If you have any concerns about working jointly with another person, you may want to consider carefully before agreeing to a business partnership.

3 – Proprietary Limited Company

For businesses that are more structurally complex, a proprietary limited company may be a better option. Under this type of a business structure, business owner(s) are considered separate from the business. This can greatly limit the amount of liability placed on one individual. There are several specific legal obligations that must be met by company directors under a proprietary limited company. Distribution of business profits and essential legal responsibilities are then agreed upon.

How To Make The Decision

As you consider which legal structure to use for your business, it is important to do your research. Your decision may have lasting effects on your business. Speak with a consultant who can help you make a wise decision.