Fundamentals of Local Searchonomics

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classroom_smallADOTAS – Ah, local searchonomics. Just the thought of it makes me grin. For a good smile, take a look at “A Crash Course in Local Searchonomics,” our recently launched YouTube video, on the subject.

Coined by 15miles, local searchonomics is exactly as it sounds; it’s leveraging local search to economically grow your business. Consumers search with local intent, and, not only are their searches local, but they also expect their results to be local (usually within 15 miles of where they’re located, according to our Local Search Usage Study).

We also know that consumers’ main pain point during search is the lack of relevant local information. Whether online or offline, the information you deliver to the consumer needs to be accurate, consistent and robust.

Make it Fit Your Business

Like finger prints, no two businesses are the same. They may offer similar services and compete within the same industry and/or markets, but each marketing plan should be custom to a particular business. The media used will overlap, but the way you use the media is what will set you apart from the competition. To understand how you can make local searchonomics work for your business, let’s take a glance at two different ends of the spectrum – the corporate parent and franchise and the “mom and pop” shop (i.e., the SMB).

Corporate and Franchise

Corporate is typically looking to build a positive brand presence while driving consumers to local locations. With local search intertwined, marketing messages should be consistent across local media channels and display a cohesive and positive brand.

If you are known as the reliable service provider it should be apparent across all channels. After all, consumers on average reference 7.9 different media sources when searching for products/services – so it’s important not to send them a mixed message.

So when do you customize your media placements? Ultimately the decision lies in the goal of your advertising – so it may depend on whether you’re trying to direct consumers to contact, to generate conversation and reviews or just build awareness. Regardless of your advertising goal, the message, if done right, will eventually trigger consumer contact at the location level.

With that, each location’s advertising efforts should be unique to that branch, but not clash with the corporate message. A searcher needs to associate their perception of your brand with a local location. Given this, location pages that are linked from the corporate website should function and provide the valuable location information the consumer is seeking while portraying the brand message corporate is striving to maintain.

*Source: BIA / Kelsey, 2010

Mom and Pop Shops (SMBs)

Smaller businesses typically battle two issues – limited advertising knowledge and budget. Fortunately, though, there are ways to overcome both of those issues.

The first thing to keep in mind is that what was once the right fit for your local business in the past may or may not be what works today. You need to make sure that your advertising efforts are changing to meet the needs of today’s consumers. Don’t ignore the ever-changing search-savvy consumer – 50% of the population is now under 30 and if they’re not in your target demographic today, they probably will be tomorrow.

In addition, the “local” part of local searchonomics is of even more importance to your local business because you can’t offset under-performance of one market with the over-performance in another. You have one market to play ball in and you need to make it count. Understand your market, know your clientele, ask them what they think and where they go to find information – then make sure you’re there.

It will mean testing and tracking media to see what the right fit is for your industry and market, but always keep in mind that it could change tomorrow. As is true with most things in life, the only constant is change when it comes to local searchonomics.

Take the automotive industry for example; broadcast advertising may not be a good fit, but directional and consumer-driven advertising like Google Places and consumer review sites may be a great fit. Then, on the another end of the spectrum, in the banking industry the same media may not be the exact fit, but a combination of directional (maybe mobile) and traditional media (maybe radio) would be a better fit.

*Source: Socialnomics in association with Hult International Business School, May 2010.

Local Searchonomics – It’s Ever-Changing

Like I mentioned before, consumers are search-savvy and are now controlling the content in the search space. They have the ability to determine where your business needs to be, not where they need to go to find it. And if you’re not there, they’ll pick someone else.

Set it and forget it no longer works in this media-crowded world. Embrace the value of local search to grow your business or continue your old ways and fall behind – that’s the basics of local searchonomics.  

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