How Should a Local Business Prioritize Its Marketing Dollars?
Prioritizing your marketing budget for a local business is crucial to ensure you get the most value and reach for your investment. Yet, small business owners have so many demands placed on their time and money that it can often be hard to decide which medium to add to your marketing strategy. Not to mention, how do you start developing a strategy anyway? What do you need to know first? It can be a challenge to unwrap it all.
The smaller your budget, the more focused you need to be on it. There may not be a lot of room for experimentation with new or unproven marketing methods. Regardless of the strategy, ultimately your goal is universal – leads and sales!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you allocate your marketing dollars effectively:
Set Clear Goals
Define your marketing goals, such as increasing local brand awareness, driving foot traffic, generating leads, or boosting sales. Your goals will guide your budget allocation. Are you tracking these KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) now? You need to know where they are now to be able to see improvements once your marketing is in place. We suggest making all goals SMART goals, meaning they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.
Know Your Audience
Understand your local target audience’s demographics, preferences, and behaviors. Are they impulsive or do they need extensive information before making a purchase? Do they require a word-of-mouth referral to purchase or do they like to make their decisions independently? This knowledge will help you tailor your marketing efforts to resonate with them and build trust.
Identify Key Channels
Determine which marketing channels are most effective for reaching your local audience. This could include a mix of digital and traditional channels such as social media, local SEO, PPC advertising, local events, and print materials.
Rocket Tip: There are ways to make your offline marketing help your online presence as well.
Budget a Percentage of Revenue
A common rule of thumb is to allocate a percentage of your annual revenue to marketing. The percentage can vary depending on factors like your industry, growth stage, and competition. If you are starting out and aren’t sure what to budget a general rule is to allocate around 5-10% of revenue.
Prioritize Digital Presence
In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial. Allocate a significant portion of your budget to building a quality website, local SEO, website optimization, and social media marketing.
Rocket Tip: Make sure that any agency you choose for your web development, SEO and search marketing services is transparent about the ownership of all work. If you are paying for it, you should own it.
Invest in Local SEO
Optimize your website for local search queries. Focus on keywords relevant to your business and location and ensure your Google My Business profile is complete and up-to-date. (Check out our free Google Business Profile Checklist to help you with this!)
Targeted Social Media
Social media is effective for local businesses to connect with their community. This can be a matter of owner or employee time or hiring a professional Social Media Manager. Either way, many social media channels are budget-friendly and are free to utilize. However, you must keep them updated regularly to avoid looking like you’ve abandoned your followers. We often suggest investing in social media advertising as well especially if your audience is highly targeted. Social Media consists of national platforms but you can run ads that are specific to your local audience.
Create content that speaks to local interests and needs. This could include blog posts, videos, or social media content that showcases your involvement in the local community through sponsorships or local boards/clubs.
Sponsor or participate in local events, fairs, or community gatherings. This can help you build brand recognition and connect with potential customers face-to-face. (Also, a link building opportunity for your site!)
If applicable, consider investing in Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) with a focus on location-based keywords. This can help you appear prominently in search results when people in your area are searching for your products or services.
Rocket Tip: Keyword information gleaned from your Google Ads can be applied to improve your SEO results.
Allocate resources to encourage and manage online reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Positive reviews can greatly influence local customers’ decisions.
Rocket Tip: Studies show that the majority of shoppers consider an online review to be as reliable as a direct referral from a friend.
Allocate a portion of your budget to marketing efforts that provide measurable results. This includes online advertising, where you can track clicks, conversions, and return on investment (ROI). If you aren’t measuring it, did it happen?
Monitor and Adjust
Regularly monitor the performance of your marketing efforts using Google Analytics or a similar reporting tool. Analyze metrics like website traffic, conversion rates, and customer engagement. Adjust your budget allocation based on what’s delivering the best results. Your marketing should never be placed on a “set it and forget it” cruise control. Even if you have a marketing specialist partnering with you, that person should be watching your traffic and conversion trends to celebrate successes and respond to downshifts.
Experiment If Possible
This is where you can get creative. Set aside a small portion of your budget for experimentation. Try some new channels or strategies and see how they perform. You might get a surprise – or learn a lesson! If something works well, you can allocate more budget to it in the future.
Rocket Tip: If your business attends heavily populated events or such events come to the area around your business location our geofenced advertising service may be worth trying.
Market conditions can change, so be prepared to adjust your budget allocation throughout the year based on seasonal trends, new opportunities, the competitive environment and shifts in your business goals. This is especially true in the arena of paid ads. You want to be able to take advantage of opportunities that might avail themselves. If you are engaging a marketing partner to manage your strategies, look to them for suggestions throughout the year and listen to their advice.
Remember that effective budget allocation requires ongoing analysis and adaptation. By prioritizing the marketing channels that align with your goals and target audience, you can maximize your local business’s visibility, engagement, and ultimately, its success.
Are you ready to boost your business up to a new level and make your marketing a priority? SEO Rocket can help! Request a consultation with us today.