4 Pillars of Local Business Online MarketingYou have a real business with real customers. You advertise in the phonebook, as well as the local ad magazine and coupon delivery service. You may even support your local high school football team and band program, by placing ads in their calendar and discount card fundraiser. You want to increase your brand recognition, but you don’t have the budget to invest in radio and television advertising. How do you make it easy for potential customers to find you when they need your product or services? As I mentioned in a previous article about local discovery, people use the Internet, either via search engine or directory sites, even more than they ask family or friends for recommendations. Your business needs to be online if you want it to grow. Here are four things your business needs to have an effective online presence, with supporting articles for further reading.

1. Your Business Website

While this is an obvious one, your business website is your 24/7 customer service agent. Your website answers questions for customers and potential customers even when you’re closed or not able to answer the phone. While it’s easy to spend too much on a website, you need to make sure that you have invested enough to make it an effective tool. Not only that, you need to make sure that your website represents your business well in all environments, especially on mobile devices.

2. Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the process of making your site friendly to search engines, such as Google and Bing. It can incorporate both paid search, as well as search engine optimization (SEO) efforts on your website. These efforts can also help with reputation management.

3. Your Social Media Presence

Social media is the way many people communicate and share recommendations today. If you haven’t established your social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+ and other social media networks, you don’t exist to the people participating in that way.

4. Content Marketing

You may or may not have heard the term “content marketing”, but it basically means that you market your business with relevant content you create for your customers and potential customers. The content you build, be it on a blog or through your website, is what search engines and customers will associate with your business. Make sure it is well-written and accurate. This may be where you want to hire someone to create well-written relevant content for your customers on your website, blog and social media properties.

While there are other elements that will help you improve your online marketing presence, these 4 pillars are the foundation for any online marketing plan for your local business.