If I had to describe the kind of person this article was meant for, it would look something like this:
– You run a small business.
– Your business may or may not be on the internet.
– You don’t know much about the internet, but you know that it’s important.
– You would like to make more money without compromising your time.
I’m going to make a lot of big promises in this post, and I’m going to have to ask that you read all the way through before passing any judgment. Here’s what you can expect:
1. I’m going to make myself relatable.
2. I’m going to teach you how you can build an online presence for your business in 30 minutes or less.
3. It’s not going to cost you anything.
4. I will use lots of lists and pictures so that it’s easy to read and understand.
So let’s get started.
My name is Cody. There were 65 students in my high school graduating class. I grew up in rural Iowa and the population of my hometown is less than 2,000. Throughout college I worked a variety of odd jobs, some of the highlights being one of those people who hand out food samples at Sam’s Club and a janitor for a heavy equipment factory. My favorite food is pizza. I like dogs because they’re always happy to see you and am indifferent to cats because they seem indifferent to me.
Growing up I knew a lot of people who ran small businesses and would have liked to make more money, but didn’t want to trade the time they spent with their family. I don’t blame them. What’s money if you don’t have time to enjoy it? Now that I’m older and have learned a thing or two about the internet, I see the little things that can have a huge impact on small businesses, but the owners are reluctant to change because
A) They simply don’t understand what the internet is capable of doing for them
and / or
B) They aren’t convinced that it will work for them and don’t have the money to give it a try.
But the most basic thing that you can do for your business is absolutely free: Create and Manage your business’s listing on Google.
And now the lesson starts.
Step 1: Checking Your Google Listing
Go ahead and Google the name of your business. In the search results, does it look something like this:
Or is it more like this:
(If you were searching for puppies, wouldn’t you prefer the map?)
If your business shows up in the search results similar to the second option, that’s good! Go ahead and skip this step. If not, no big deal, but you’re going to have to create your business listing. For Google’s guide explaining how to create your listing, go here: https://support.google.com/places/answer/142902?hl=en&ref_topic=1660711 (Note: You’ll need a gmail account, so if you don’t have one already have one you’ll have to create one)
Step 1.5: Make Sure You’re in the Right Spot
If your listing already exists, make sure that it’s in the right spot. If your business shows up but the map shows that it’s next to a tree or some weird place, you’ll have to update it in Google Map Maker (You can do that here: http://www.google.com/mapmaker).
Step 2: Verify Your Business
A) You have a business listing
B) You’ve made sure it’s in the right place
It’s time to “verify your business.” This just means that you want to take ownership and be able to control your public image on Google. When you Google your business, it should now show up on the right side of the search results. Towards the bottom of the map, you should see this:
From here it’s just a simple automated phone call to verify that you are indeed the owner.
Step 3: Manage Your Listing
Honestly, this takes hardly any upkeep at all. The two most important things that I can suggest are
1. Fill out the information as much as possible (pictures, hours, etc).
If you were searching for a small business, wouldn’t you like to have as much information as possible?
2. Respond to your reviews (and not just the bad ones).
Thank people who leave good reviews and reply nicely and politely to the negative ones. For more guidelines on this you can read “Google’s How to Respond to Reviews”: https://support.google.com/places/answer/184271
Oh, and for the record, there is a right way to respond to bad reviews. If you don’t know, I suggest you…Google it. See what I did there?
The Two Simplest Ways That This Helps Your Business
Now you may be thinking, “Well that’s all fine and dandy Cody, but in what ways does this actually help my business?” Let me show you the two simplest things your customers will love you for.
Pending on the type of business that you run, I still think it’s safe to assume that 25% of your Google searches come from someone on their phone. You might be familiar with what that looks like.
Let’s say you don’t have a website, but you listed your address and phone number. Now customers can call you immediately or get directions with the push of a button. That’s pretty nifty.
And that’s it. I wish you all the best for your business and fewer headaches from the confusion of digital marketing. If you ever want to take your digital marketing to the next level, feel free to contact us.