Website Homepage Design

4 Tips for Creating an Effective Home Page for your Website

Website Homepage DesignCrafting the perfect home page is both an art and a science; however, there are simple things that business owners can do to ensure their home page quickly engages visitors. After all, the goal of the home page is to compel visitors to dig deeper into your website. The home page needs to be appealing enough to get visitors to want to take the time to do that. Here are four strategies that small business owners should utilize when creating the home page of their website.

Include your business name, address, and phone number in the header.

Provide your company’s information right off the bat by putting it in the Header. This establishes trust and is also important for SEO health. Larisa Thomason from NetMechanic wrote: “You’d think this would be automatic, but many sites don’t include this vital information. Many visitors hesitate to do business with a company that won’t provide a phone number. Search directory editors look for contact information too; they may reject your site if you don’t provide it.”

Have a relevant, provoking graphic and call to action.

Every effective home page uses primary and secondary calls to action in order to direct visitors deeper into the site. There are many key phrases that work great as part of a call to action. For example, “Learn More”, “Act Now”, “Special Offer”, or “Don’t Miss Out”. CTAs get visitors to click through to what they need to do next and, more importantly, turn them into sales or leads. A good rule of thumb is to include a CTA early on the home page and an even more aggressive one towards the bottom.

Offer navigation to only key areas.

Listen, your home page is not meant to provide every last detail about your business, products, and/or services. As stated earlier, it should serve to compel visitors deeper into your site. By limiting navigation to key areas it keeps the experience simple, logical, and easy to follow. This makes for a pleasant user experience which is more likely to result in a visitor getting to those areas of your site that turn them into a customer. Key areas differ based on your type of business but can include a Services area, a Locations page, or a Coupons page.

Include a testimonial.

Testimonials work best if they are sprinkled throughout your site. That being said, start that sprinkling right on the home page. It’s a great way to welcome new visitors and qualm any reservations they may have about your products or services. It also adds an immediate human connection in an online environment where, let’s face it, it’s difficult to engage emotionally. By beginning the visitor experience by introducing them to a customer who is one of your company’s biggest fans, you’re sure to put them at ease and make them comfortable digging deeper into your website.

Jim Sampson, Private Party Advertising Manager at PennySaver USAJim Sampson is the Customer Support Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Local Business Listings.
Creating Effective Coupon Campaigns

Tips for running an effective coupon campaign Pt. 2

I wanted to continue off my previous blog on running an effective coupon campaign. I previously covered how to write an effective coupon, but now what do you do with it? Here are a few tips on getting the most out of your coupons, and increasing the conversions.

Enhance Marketing Campaigns

Creating Effective Coupon CampaignsCoupons are a perfect way to enhance any marketing campaign. If you’re promoting, or advertising a specific service or offer, add a coupon to the mix to give your customers that little extra push to bring them into your store. An example of this is something you see with fast food chains all the time. When they launch a new product its often accompanied by a coupon to encourage their customers to try it out.


Always expire your coupons. Coupons by their nature are limited time offers, you want to line them up with seasons, holidays, or marketing campaigns. For this reason you want the coupon offer to end when campaign ends. Granted, you can always refuse to honor a coupon, but it’s best to avoid that issue all together and make sure you use expiration dates.


This is something we see often. If you’re selling a $20 pizza and have been running a $5 off coupon on that pizza for the last 5 years, guess what. You just artificially reduced the price of that pizza to $15. Coupons should be used to market a new product, or entice customers to try out your business for the first time. This doesn’t mean you have to think up new coupons all the time, but try to rotate them around and come up with some new ones from time to time. This way you can offer something different to the new customer that didn’t like the previous coupons, and entice your regulars to try something different on your menu.


How do you know if your coupons are working or not? How do you know which offer is bringing in new customers? Did Coupon A lead to an up-sale? You can get all these answers if you effectively track your coupons. When you’re customers bring in a coupon staple the coupon to your copy of the receipt, or write down how much the customer spent on the back of the coupon. Later at the end of the day/week, write down how many times a customer used a specific coupon, and how much money they spent at your store. Using this information you can decide if this coupon isn’t working any more, and if you want to take it out of your rotation. Effective tracking can help you decide where in the rotation to put your coupons.

Coupons can be an effective tool in driving new and repeat customers into your business. But knowing when and what coupons to use is always difficult if you don’t have the right tools. Hopefully we were able to supply you with some knowledge to help you create and maintain an effective coupon campaign, that keeps customers coming back for more.

IMG_9375_600x600Michael Baaske is the Digital Product Coordinator at PowerSites®, and with over 7 years of experience in PrePress and print media, Michael has seen some good, and bad coupon offers. PowerSites® is an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success, that’s a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Local Business Listings.

Marketing vs. Advertising: It’s Important to Know the Difference

In an era when 8 out of 10 small businesses are destined to fail within the first year, it is essential that these business owners understand the difference between marketing and advertising and their unique importance to their overall success. A lot of times you will hear the terms used interchangeably, and this is fundamentally incorrect. If used, and understood, correctly as standalone functions you can quickly see how the two can effectively augment businesses to help drive conversions, create sticky customers who identify with your brand, and act as a catalyst for revenue growth.


474373035When a small business looks at what their marketing efforts should be, it is quintessential that they understand marketing is the process of readying their products and services for the marketplace by portraying a brand that speaks to their targeted consumer base. The first step for establishing a marketing strategy for a product or service is to truly examine their target audience by identifying their needs and values. Once the target demographic is determined it is important that the small business uses the influence of those consumers on determining the brand elements (i.e., colors, logos, etc) to push the products or services in alignment with the needs of the consumers.

Marketing Tools

  • Website – In an era where more and more people turn to the internet to digest content and look for products and services, there is little doubt that your website should be considered your cornerstone of your marketing plan.
  • Local Business Listings – Leveraging the power of a Local Business Listing service will help get your business listed within the framework of search engines, mobile, and directory sites that all factor into local SEO for your website. This product will also give you the ability to brand your business across a wider network of web presences.


451929683As noted above marketing is the way that you push and convince potential customers in the marketplace that you have the right product or service form them; however, advertising is how you reach and communicate to those potential customers the existence of your products and services. A small business must take their marketing efforts and determine the advertising channels they want to pursue to reach their target demographic. Some of the most popular advertising channels leverage the tools of print, radio, television, and the Internet, which all provide an efficient path to communicate a brand to a potential consumer. Obviously, most advertising channels do not come free, so for a small business with a tight budget, it is important to know which channel is best suited to reach your target audience effectively.

Advertising Channels

  • Social Media – Social media is a highly effective and largely inexpensive tool that should be readily leveraged by a small business to spread the word about what your business has to offer. Local businesses should pay particular attention to Facebook, Google+, and Twitter as these platforms will let you acutely focus your advertising money on trying to reach your target audience.
  • Search Engine Marketing – Leveraging the power of paid advertising across the major search engines (i.e., Google, Yahoo!, and Bing) allows a small business to serve location and keyword based ads to consumers that are readily searching for products and services. These highly customizable and targeted ads will allow your small business to put itself in front of more consumers in an effort to get them to engage and convert with your business.

If you have any questions on how the suite of digital products offered by PowerSites® can help you support all of your marketing and advertising needs don’t hesitate to contact us today, or reach out to your existing Account Executive directly.


Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Local Business Listings.
Local SEO Factors

Local SEO Factors

Local SEO FactorsAs explained in my last post which covered the definition of SEO, we learned that authority plus relevance equals rank. Search engines typically measure authority by looking at how many actual pages exist on your website, and by analyzing how many other websites link to yours. The more relevant pages you have, and the more relevant and credible links you have linking back to your website, the better your SEO mojo. However, when it comes to local businesses, it would be nearly impossible for your business to rank against big directories, like Yelp and YP, if the same approach were taken.

That’s why for local businesses, the search engines use a different approach. Local SEO is the term used to describe the specific tactics involved in helping local businesses get found and ranked on the search engines. There are 3 factors to consider when thinking about Local SEO.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO refers to the content and structure of your businesses website. It’s important that your website prominently displays your NAP (name, address, and phone number) correctly across all pages. The products and services that you offer should be listed. If you offer a wide array of services, create a services page that lists and explains all of the services you offer. If you serve a large community that extends far beyond your physical address, create a page that speaks to the products and services you offer in the various communities you serve. Also, don’t forget a good call to action, coupon, or other offer. In short, make it easy for your website visitors to understand who you are, what you do, why they should use you, and make it super easy for them to know where to call or visit you.

When it comes to website structure, there are so many website building tools and services that ensure your website is structured in a way that makes it easy for the search engines to find and index the information on your site. Website services like those offered through our very own PowerSites® will allow you to have a perfectly structured website with little effort and at an affordable price.


Citations are your businesses NAP (name, address, and phone) listed across the web. If your NAP is listed on ten different web pages, then you have ten different citations. Since most local business websites don’t have tons of pages nor do they have tons of back links from other websites, the search engines look to citations as a way to measure authority and relevance instead. When it comes to citations, it’s important that your NAP is consistent across all websites and pages. If you have a phone number listed on your Yelp business listing page that differs from your listing on Yahoo! Local, that is not good.

The more consistent and error free your NAP, the more professional and authoritative you look in the eyes of the search engines. Additionally, the way your citations appear across the internet should match the NAP used on your local business’s website. And, if you are trying to get in Google’s good graces, you should make sure you have a Google+ page for your business, again with the same info.




There is a reason why reviews are all the craze. Not only is it proven that consumers are more likely to patronize a business or use their products or services if they have reviews, but the search engines actually favor businesses that have reviews posted on sites like Google+, Yelp, and Facebook. Asking your customers to give you reviews on these sites will not only help your local SEO, but it shows your customers that you care about their feedback. Don’t be afraid to incentivize your customers either. Offer them a discount on their next purchase or service if they write a review for you!

Whatever you do, don’t get bogged down thinking about how you are going to take on these three factors. Local SEO may seem daunting, but any time you think about ranking on the search engines it is important to remember one thing – the search engines are trying to think like humans. When put that way, local SEO is really just a good result of professionally representing your brand online, explaining why people love you, and making sure everyone knows how to get a hold of you.

Drew Fortin is the VP of Marketing at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Local Business Listings.

Single Page Website Design

The Rise of Single Page Web Design for Small Businesses

Single Page Website DesignIn the world of web design there are new trends that develop all the time, with some having staying power and some just being flash-in-the-pan concept designs. The ones that have staying power have the potential to evolve what we consider today to be the best practices for web design. In the realm of looking at a readily growing trend for small businesses it is time to give some real attention to the concept of single page web design. Single page web design is exactly what it sounds like, as it is literally just the creation of a single page website that leverages anchor tags and a longer scroll to navigate through one page of content rather than having individual pages of content created for each aspect of the site or business.

For a small business that is trying to create an online presence for itself there are numerous benefits that can be leveraged from taking a single page website design approach for their site, and we will briefly explore a few of these below.

Content is King

Now more than ever with Google’s Panda 4.0 algorithm update the emphasis is being placed on the QUALITY of content and not QUANTITY of content. If you’re a small business that has a couple of core functionalities you shouldn’t stretch your content out by creating extra pages with limited information on each of them, as the lack of content on each page can be very off-putting to web visitors. Instead of creating a ton of pages with thin content a small business should take a look at clean single page design that can present the core services and products of your business to the online consumer in a very clean and effective manner.

Quick Site Digestion

With the rise of mobile, and the evolvement of the human mentality in general, web users more than ever want to find what they’re looking for and they want to find it now. With a single web page design you give everyone that visits your site all the information they need in a single page without forcing them to jump around and navigate from page to page, and potentially missing what they’re looking for. This leads to a better user experience as they can quickly view the site and it increases the opportunity that that web visitor will positively interact with a business – and in the world of websites and business – user interaction is critical to long term success.

Increased Conversions

The purpose of a website is to inherently brand your business online and to drive the generation of new leads. The definition of leads will vary from business to business, but they can include things like calls tracked through a call tracking number, form fills, coupon prints, map views, etc. Depending on the business, a different emphasis will be placed on each type of lead, but one unquestionable fact is that when a user comes across a site that has quality content, is easy to digest, and is visually stimulating that they are much more likely to engage with the business. Through the use of a Google Analytics tag a business can easily track the increased conversions that they are generating through this style of site design.

A single page design is not an end all be all solution for every small businesses, but this style is readily growing from just being a trend to being lumped into a more selective group of being a viable website design best practice.


Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.
Be Relevant to Google

Be Relevant to Google – The Rest Will Take Care of Itself

In an age of digital connectivity users want results, and they want results fast. Within this framework Google is playing an epic game of King of the Mountain, and no one is poised to knock them off that mountain anytime soon. While Google has their hands in a lot of cookie jars, their predominant core functionality still revolves around their ability to take a user supplied query and return the most relevant results in the blink of an eye. We’re going to dissect it in more detail, but the keyword that needs to be circled, italicized, bolded, highlighted above is ‘relevant’.

Be Relevant to GoogleFor a hyper local business owner that is already the accountant, HR, customer service rep, salesman, etc – it is critical that they add Google buff to that list to make sure they position themselves to be relevant for the users that are searching for their products or services. Yes, there are other search engines, but Google still holds a 72% search engine market share – so when time is tight you can find the most benefit, and highest ROI, by focusing your efforts on making sure you represent your business with the right content and on the right mediums to become relevant. Trying to understand the terminology used when discussing the algorithm Google uses for its search engine can cause many to have nightmarish flash backs to vocabulary prep courses for the SAT. So were going to keep it simple and look at the three things that a hyper local business needs to master to become, and stay, relevant.

Content is King

Forget all the high tech terms, forget all the web mumbo jumbo and remember this simple three worded statement:  CONTENT IS KING. If you truly embrace this you will put yourself in a position to succeed in the web space where so many hyper local businesses fail. There are hundreds of solutions out there to help hyper local businesses become relevant on the web, but they will all fail if they aren’t supported with engaging, concise, and consistent content. The days of keyword stuffing and link building are dead, but organic SEO is still very much alive, and by creating a site that focuses on the core services and products of your business then the more likely you will be returned in results when users are looking for your type of business or service. Take the time to really think about your business and how people talk about your business and give all of that great content to the builders who are creating and maintaining your web presence. If you want to really go next level on content then take a look at keeping an active blog on the site that speaks to consumer issues and wants to only enhance yourself as an authority within your business’s vertical.

Get Social

If you have amazing content on your site about your business it is more important than ever to make sure that you get involved in Social Media. For most hyper local businesses it is quintessential that you have at least one account set up with the big players –  Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn, preferably an account for all of them. By having your own account on these sites it gives you the ability to share the content of your site to a community of users that might not have come across it otherwise. It is also necessary that on your site you create the ability for users to be able to share your content when they want to across all of the aforementioned sites. If you provide high quality and industry/user specific content then people will naturally want to share your site, and this helps promote overall organic activity around your brand. When Google sees this type of activity around a brand name they will associate your brand with being an authority in the space and your site is that much more likely to be served in the search results for users to digest.

Mobile First

Many of today’s consumers are on the go and aren’t necessarily looking for businesses while they’re at home at night, but rather when they’re on their phone out and about. It is no longer efficient to build a site intended for desktop use and then retroactively work towards creating a mobile presence. In an age where time is the most valued commodity, a great way to make sure you have a site that is mobile optimized and still serves its purpose in a desktop environment, while minimizing upkeep time, is to make sure that you’re site is built in a responsive design. A responsive design is Google’s recommended configuration for a site build as in the most basic sense it just means you have one URL that uses the same code and changes it look to the consumer based on the screen size of the device they are using. More importantly having a single responsive site makes it easier than ever for the Google bots to read and index your site content, and when Google can read your site correctly you position yourself to succeed.

This is by no means the Holy Grail to solving the enigma, wrapped inside a mystery, that is the algorithm used to support Google’s search engine; however, it does give you some very rock solid first steps to position yourself ahead of your competition in a readily changing environment by just staying relevant.

Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.
Tips on How To Write an Effective Coupon

How to Write an Effective Coupon

Having a coupon is a great way to enhance any marketing campaign, or rid yourself of excess inventory. While coupons are easy to write, there are a few common mistakes that are often made. Below are a few tips to help you avoid these mistakes and write a more effective coupon.


Tips on How To Write an Effective CouponAn effective title for a coupon is short and to the point. Use the body of the coupon to give the details on what the customer is getting. Use the large bold font of the title as an opportunity to grab attention. Good words to use are “Free”, “X% Off” or “$X Off”, start out with telling the customer how much they’re going to save!


Use the body of the coupon to explain what the offer is for. The best coupons just simply list out what the customer will get when they redeem this coupon. Don’t leave anything out, and don’t be vague. An example would be “Oil change includes x,y, and z premium oil extra”


The disclaimer is the fine print that lists out anything that would void your coupon. One per customer, not valid with other offers etc. Try to keep this section as short as possible. A long disclaimer with a bunch of rules may turn off your customer and they may avoid using the coupon all together.


The expiration date is one of the most overlooked part of a coupon. If you pick an expiration date that’s too long, customers are more likely to place them in a pile “for later” and then completely forget about them. However, if you use a short date like 7 days, there’s a sense of urgency to use the coupon as soon as possible, making it less likely that your coupon will be forgotten.

Coupon vs. Special Offer

This is not necessarily a tip, but a mistake I see often. Special offers disguised as coupons. While special offers are a great alternative to coupons, because they don’t have that sense of urgency, they’re not as effective at tracking a campaign. The two main difference between the two can be answered by these two questions. Does it expire? and Can anyone get this price? All coupons expire, and the only people that can get the coupon price is if they have the coupon, or at least know about it. If you’re offering an oil change for $35 anyone that walks into your store then “Get an oil change for $35” is not a coupon.

A strong coupon offer can help enhance any marketing campaign, so take your time and make sure you get the best results. Part of this is writing an effective coupon that draws your customers attention, and entices them to come to your store.

IMG_9375_600x600Michael Baaske is the Digital Product Coordinator at PowerSites®, and with over 7 years of experience in PrePress and print media, Michael has seen some good, and bad coupon offers. PowerSites® is an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success, that’s a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

Photo by Chris F / CC BY">

Amazon’s New Smartphone and the Focus It Will Bring to Mobile Commerce – As a Small Business What Do You Need to Know?

Amazon 3D Fire Smartphone

Amazon 3D Fire Smartphone ” by
Chris F is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In an era where online commerce is growing at an exponential rate most of those transactions have still occurred within a traditional PC environment. Within the framework of online commerce, the release of Fire Phone, announced by Amazon at an event in Washington on Wednesday (6/18/14), will push for drastically more awareness and emphasis around mobile commerce. While the phone has a variety of flashy software and hardware feature sets, including most notably the ability to render certain images and functionalities into a 3-D like appearance, there is one core functionality that promises to help change the way people view, consume, and purchase products through retailers.

With the launch of their Fire Phone, Amazon upped the ante by integrating Firefly; an image, text , and audio-recognition technology into the hardware of their phone with a dedicated button that is located on the side of the phone. This feature will give customers the ability to showroom products in a big box store and then immediately jump on Amazon to complete their purchase at a more attractive price point because with less overhead and smaller margins Amazon is often able to undercut in store pricing. The Firefly functionality will also allow users to identify songs, movies, and TV shows that they can immediately stream through or purchase through Prime. While this core functionality is obviously largely self serving to the Amazon platform and the Amazon shopping a experience a parallel effect will undoubtedly be drawing more people to becoming comfortable with transacting online, and is a feature that could fundamentally change the shopping flow for big box stores and hyper local businesses alike.

In 2018 it is expected that online commerce sales, on a global level, will top $638 billion, which for reference that figure is approximately the entire size of the online commerce market in 2013. With such growth in dollars available in the mobile experience what does this mean for hyper local businesses? It means that in an era of fierce competition for online retail and service dollars it is of a quintessential nature that if you already don’t have an online commerce strategy that you start to think about how to implement and execute one. This is not only true for brick and mortar stores that need to be concerned about their online selling experiences, but it is also necessary for service based business to really evaluate how they can capture a sliver of that online revenue pie. Mobile commerce will undoubtedly boom within the physical product spectrum, but these types of technological advances will also lead the way for service based offerings to be shopped and paid for through mobile environments.

At PowerSites® we understand this necessity and are working vehemently to be able to provide you the product offerings you need to support your business online in any capacity that you deem fit.

Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.
Why small businesses need to be mobile savvy

It’s Not Too Late For Your Small Business To Be Mobile Savvy

Why small businesses need to be mobile savvyWe are in the midst of a digital revolution and one thing is clear, an era of mobile is upon us. While technology has taught us that nothing stays the same for long, it has become abundantly clear that mobile devices will impact the relationship between consumers and small businesses for a long time to come. First, it’s important to understand the current and future impact of mobile and then take steps to make sure that your business portfolio includes a strong mobile strategy.

3 Steps to Improve Your Mobile Presence:

1. Responsive Site Design

Creating your website is the most basic step you can take in the development of your online brand. It is critical that your site is capable of being digested by users on a variety of platforms including laptops, tablets and smartphone devices. As a small business owner we know you wear many hats on a day in and day out basis so instead of managing both a desktop and mobile version of your website look for a responsive site design to make sure your brand is presented appropriately all screen sizes and devices. By leveraging responsive technologies you can create a single website (lives on a single URL) that automatically adjusts itself to fit any screen size that a potential customer is using to view your content.

2. Social Media

With millions upon millions of users interacting with social media through their mobile devices it is essential that as a small business you leverage this digital marketing channel to further support your overall digital presence. There are so many different social media sites that it can be quite overwhelming for someone who isn’t necessarily tech savvy to leverage these services appropriately. However, if you focus on the big three; Facebook, Google+, and Twitter you will more than be able to cover your bases. So do some homework, create a page for your business on each of these sites, and get your company in front of a whole new group of customers who are on the go, ready to buy, and use their mobile devices to drive their purchasing behavior.

3. Local Business Directory Listings

No two mobile users will search for a product or service the exact same way. As a small business owner with a mobile strategy it becomes your responsibility to make sure that your brand is available for digestion through as many channels as possible. You can enhance your presence within local search by leveraging local business directory listing networks. The benefit here is two-fold by creating a consistent presence across sites like Yelp, Yahoo! Local, PennySaver, and FourSquare you increase your exposure for users searching for small businesses on these individual sites as well as improving your local search rankings for organic traffic on the major search engines.

The mobile space is readily evolving and will only continue to change, but as a small business if you can take these basic steps to start establishing an effective mobile business strategy and presence, you’ll be on the right path to making sure the move to mobile doesn’t pass you by.

Lynn Hughes, Product Manager at PowerSites®Lynn Hughes is the Product Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.
Local Marketing 101 - The Marketing Plan

Local Business Marketing 101 – The Marketing Plan

Marketing: (noun) The way companies interact with consumers to create relationships that are beneficial to both parties.

Advertising: (noun)  The act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, need ,etc., especially by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, or billboards, etc.

Branding: (verb) To mark with a branding iron

As a marketing manager I have helped mid to large sized companies put together marketing plans. In bigger organizations there are usually a number of people involved in the process and it can take a days or even weeks. Some companies even go as far as taking their teams offsite to develop the plan in order to keep them focused.  When it comes to creating a marketing plan for a local business, it isn’t much different other than there are probably less people involved but the questions you face and the components of the marketing plan are the same.

What is a Marketing Plan?

Local Marketing 101 - The Marketing PlanA marketing plan is the roadmap for all of your business’ marketing efforts. This is where you outline what channels you want to invest money in (i.e. online, social media, direct mail, TV, radio, etc.) and what it is you want to do via these channels. It also should encompass the message you want to deliver to your customers. The purpose of a marketing plan is to help schedule your campaigns and help keep the efforts on track. The marketing plan is a part of your overall business plan and should support those business goals. Marketing plans are typically set for a year. Outlined below are the main components of a marketing plan and some questions most marketers face when creating their plan.

Establish a Realistic Budget

To begin with, create a realistic budget. Your marketing budget should be part of the plan. If you want to increase your business by let’s say 50% but are only willing to spend a minimal amount on achieving that, the likelihood of accomplishing your goal is slim. Many business owners spend very little on marketing. Only about a quarter of business owners spend more than $500 per month on marketing leaving close to 75% of business owners spending less than $500 per month. Some spend nothing! This is according to Yodle’s First Annual Small Business Sentiment Survey. Of course, don’t spend more than you can afford but be smart about where you invest your marketing dollars. Figure out where you will get the most exposure and Return on Investment (ROI). The U.S. Small Business Association also suggests giving yourself some flexibility so that you can run an unplanned campaign when your business needs an extra boost or for when you’d like to test new offers.

Know Your Audience

Find out who your customers are and what they are interested in. This will give you better insight into what your message and value proposition should be to your customers. What is it that most of your customers respond to the best? Use that information to help you acquire new customers and retain current ones. Market research is also important in identifying segments that are important to your business. What types of customers do you want to attract? Research can be conducted via direct mail, surveys and personal interviews with customers.

Select the Right Marketing Channels for Your Business

Determine which channels work best for attracting your target market. The most common channels businesses utilize for marketing purposes are:

  • Direct Mail
  • Classified Ads
  • SEM (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Directory Listings
  • Website
  • Email
  • Mobile
  • Social Media
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Radio
  • TV

Depending on the type of business your running and budget you might use all of these or just a few. In deciding which channels to use, think about where you can get the most visibility by your target market. That is exposure and geography. So for example, if your target market is 18-24 year old females within a given zip code, you might consider using a combination of social media, mobile, SEM and your website.  Nowadays, it is imperative to have an online presence even if this is the only channel you use to brand and market your business. Having a website for your business not only adds credibility but it makes it easier for your customers to find you. Keep in mind that although Radio and TV will get you mass exposure, it is difficult to target your message to a specific segment of people and it is also difficult to track its impact on revenue. The key here is to optimize the mix of channels and offers you are using. Only testing will help you figure out that sweet spot.

As mentioned earlier; you also have to think about ROI (return on your investment). Measure the impact that your campaigns have had on your revenue and compare that to a time when you were either not running a campaign or running a different campaign. This will help you figure out which campaigns worked best for you. It is important to make campaign analysis and reporting part of your marketing plan. Without it you can’t tell what worked and didn’t work. When building out the plan, Consult with all of the business stakeholders. This can be business partners, employees or vendors. They might be able to share insight that you may not have which will help make your plan stronger.

Revisit Throughout The Year

Marketing plans are living, breathing documents. They are fluid and can change as your business and the market change. The plan should be revisited periodically throughout the year.  As you test and optimize your campaigns, you may decide that you’d rather invest in only some of the channels (or different channels altogether) that you initially started with. The key is to analyze your campaigns and see if they are paying off.

Iliana Angel, Marketing ManagerIliana Angel is the Marketing Manager at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.