A great business location is like a great marketing campaign: it drives foot traffic, increases visibility and boosts sales. But prime real estate is pricey, and moving to a hotter spot is not always an option. So how can you build a flourishing business in a less-than-enviable space? You have many options, from the old-fashioned (better signage, branded giveaways) to tech-savvy (using social media and optimizing search engine results) to cutting-edge (using location analytics to pinpoint marketing and advertising efforts). Every location has something to offer—it comes down to recognizing the benefits and putting those insights to work for you. Here’s a quick overview of top tips to help make even an awkward business location work for you.
Use Leading-Edge Location Analytics to Test Markets and Sites
Knowing where your customers live, work and tend to shop helps you see the true size and shape of your market. Spatially’s location analytics tools let you pinpoint your target market—see where they live, where they spend their time and where they tend to travel locally. Once you know the size and location of your true market, you know where to locate new business sites, aim marketing efforts and advertise your products with greater success.
Such location intelligence used to be reserved for online businesses and large brick-and-mortar chains with access to pricey studies commissioned from Big Data. But today, even small businesses with modest marketing and ad budgets have access to this valuable information. Spatially’s tools let you view the income, education levels, spending and traffic patterns of the people who spend time near your location. See where they come from and view their local traffic patterns. Find out which complementary and competing businesses your customers visit, and see when and how often they come to your Business Area.
Using spatial analysis, you can also model location-related variables for any Business Area, so you can run your own market analyses to uncover underserved market needs. Learn where you’ll have the best access to the customers you most want to attract. See how to focus your direct marketing campaigns and discover new population segments. When you’re ready to expand, we can even help you find nearby areas similar to yours.
Create a Robust Web Presence and Take Advantage of Social Media
Shockingly, barely more than half of small businesses have websites. Customers run many millions of product and company searches daily, and four out of five shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases. Mobile searches make up the bulk of searches that convert to sales, so you need a website and social media presence to take advantage of your potential customers’ hunger for information about your offerings. You needn’t be fancy, though a bit of effort does make your online presence much more effective in driving visitors to your storefront. Here are the most important things to keep in mind:
- Show up on key platforms: To make it easy for potential customers to find your business, you’ll need a website and business pages an array of major social media platforms. Each one has unique benefits for small businesses—for highlights and best practices, click each of the following to find out how to get the most out of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram for your small business.
- Get more bang for your buck: Facebook business page audiences can be small, but they tend to have high engagement from visitors. People you reach there are more likely than most to convert to customers. If your target customers are people under 25, Snapchat and Instagram are more popular; in 2016, Instagram boasted higher overall levels of engagement than even Facebook. If you’re looking to reach college-educated professionals aged 30-49 about business-related products and services, then your small business should have a presence on LinkedIn.
- Don’t forget the basics: Include your business address, phone number, email address and hours and a quick description of your business on your website and all social media. Make sure your listings stay up-to-date and are the same across all websites and publishers. Check in with one of the various directories that can help you determine where and how your company is listed online.
- Give good directions: Written directions are good; adding a map is better; including a link to a map site is best. Don’t forget to add a description of your area to help with search engine optimization (SEO); also provide parking hints and nearby public transportation info.
- Claim your business on Google Places: Listing your business on Google Places will improve your Google PageRank.
- Boost your search rankings: Google sees bigger websites as being more valuable—having more pages, images, maps and links boosts your Google’s PageRank placement.
- Show, don’t just tell: Images make your site more exciting and inviting (and can improve SEO). Restaurants should include sample menus and photos of food.
- Allow customers to leave reviews: While bad reviews won’t help you, a lack of reviews will also turn away many potential customers. Including reviews on your website improves your Google page rankings and provides a place for positive testimonials. Don’t be afraid to ask satisfied customers to leave online reviews for you. Check the online reviews on your site and other review sites like Yelp regularly. Respond politely to all reviews; showing respect and concern over bad experiences gives you a chance to leave a positive impression.
- Take advantage of the meta description line: Meta descriptions show up in search results just below the title tag. Include the most important descriptive details about your business there. Descriptions are truncated to 160 characters in search results, so keep within that limit.
- Update frequently to keep ’em coming back: Update social media pages regularly with new photos of product offerings, testimonials, upcoming attendance at events and fairs, community activities, seasonal deals and specials and blogs with information that your customers can use whether or not they purchase your products. Develop the expectation among visitors that returning to your page often brings benefits and actionable information, and foster the idea that you want to make their lives better all the time.
- Harness the power of YouTube: Use website and social media pages to link to short YouTube videos that show your products or services in use, or give helpful hints on how to get the most out of them.
Tried-and-True Traditional Options for Overcoming a Poor Location
These methods to get around a poor business location aren’t innovative, but they’re often effective. Sometimes the most obvious answers are overlooked in our hurry to try the latest trend or product.
- Don’t Become Wedded to Your Current Offerings: Test and change the products and services you offer as needed to attract new customers. This is especially important when your customer mix is different than you expected. The primary goal of your business should be to serve your market well, so be flexible when you see that potential customers need something a little different from what you’d imagined when you set up shop.
- Expand to New Locations: Can’t afford to add a new permanent business location? Consider pop-ups shops, or rent tents or tables at local events (fairs, festivals, conferences, holiday celebrations). Or try a modern tweak on the old idea—offer your in-store products in online markets like Etsy to expand your visibility and market reach.
- Increase Brand Visibility: Make it easy to find you with bold signage, appealing and often-changing window displays, customized delivery vehicles and branded items like reusable shopping bags.
- Toot Your Own Horn: Write up press releases and distribute them to content providers and local media. Include helpful details about your company and what makes your offerings special. Make it easy for others to help you get the word out.
With a bit of effort, the right tools and access to accurate, actionable data, you can turn even an iffy location into one that can nurture and grow a successful company. Put these methods and tools to work and watch even a mediocre location foster a thriving business.