How to dominate local markets Published January 25, 2017 | By Achim Neumann, President When most entrepreneurs start businesses, they don’t do it with the intention of scraping by from month-to-month, they want to thrive. This is done by becoming a dominant player in a specific space. The strategies used to make this happen hold true locally as well as globally. However, there are some adjustments that entrepreneurs will need to make to accomplish this within their communities. In this article, we outline some basic tactics that will help brick and mortar companies increase their market share. 1) Establish an online presence These days, most consumers make buying decisions by conducting research on the Internet. They still do this even if they intend to buy something locally, so it is vital for a business to have a presence on the web if they want to stand on a level playing field with their competition. By pairing the goods and services they have to offer with a strong unique selling proposition communicated through well-written copy, they will be able to stand out effectively from their contemporaries. 2) Fine-tune local SEO These days, getting SEO (search engine optimization) right is imperative if a business wants to be found by customers. This is just as relevant for brick and mortar establishments, as most consumers find what they need through web searches versus flipping through the Yellow Pages, circa 1998. In addition to implementing basic SEO tactics, there are techniques that should be implemented which are specific to companies that operate locally. These include directly registering a business with Google and Bing, as this will allow these search giants to disseminate addresses, phone numbers, operating hours, etc. Local SEO also includes the creation of content specific to a businesses’ geographic location, teaming up with popular local and regional websites (community portals, newspapers, etc), and maintaining a robust social media presence that focuses on engagement with customers and prospects. 3) Solicit online reviews from customers Customers don’t just check out the websites of local businesses when making buying decisions in their community, they also seek out review sites such as Yelp to learn from the experiences of others. Practicing good customer service habits is important to keep damaging negative reviews to a minimum, but soliciting reviews from happy customers is just as vital for entrepreneurs looking to grow their revenues. Pleased consumers are less likely to review a place than one that feels like they have been wronged, as strange as that sounds. By putting up signs asking for feedback on sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor, they will be more likely to do so they felt like they had an exceptionally positive experience while using a businesses’ services. 4) Advertise using PPC ads Getting a site to rank takes time – in the meantime, spending some ad dollars on paid search will help boost the profile of a specific company considerably. PPC (pay per click) ads allow a local entrepreneur to get the word out about their business when local customers type in a targeted keyword/key phrase in search, as it will appear at the top of the results they are served. Simple terms cost more than longer key phrases, and invite more competition. By honing in on a long tail key term that targets their customer base, an entrepreneur making use of PPC can both save money and attract the right type of consumer to their business. 5) Customer service is key Above all else, focusing heavily on the customer experience will be an owner’s biggest ally when it comes to dominating the local market. Apart from chasing low prices, customers do business with companies they like. By greeting them with a smile, going the extra mile to solve their problems, being open during convenient hours, and actively working their feedback into service/product development, an entrepreneur will be doing what they need to do to help their business to rise to the top of the heap in their area.