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Can Small Business Beat Big Business with Internet Marketing?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 2/13/11 6:00 PM

How much does size matter for internet marketing?

Advice from Yoda for Small Business Inbound Internet Marketing

One of the top 3 things I hear from other Maine local small businesses is; "How can I compete online with larger companies who spend a lot more online and have been doing it longer? I hardly show up in search!"

The short answer? Use long tail keywords to focus your SEO efforts. Long tail keywords are the phrases that have more than 2 words and are usually specific. For example: 'accounting software' vs 'small business contractor accounting software'. You might not show up in search for the more popular phrases, but you will show up first in search for a wide range of highly targeted phrases.

Which would you rather have? A high level of traffic that is just browsing or in the wrong place, or prospects who are almost ready to buy and take less time to close?

That is how the little guy can compete with the big guy. Size really doesn't matter when you can be precise and actually hit the right target.

Easy to say, hard to do?

A lot of marketers and business owners make internet marketing a lot harder on themselves than they have to. Some get overwhelmed by the technology, others by the fast pace, a few from lack of experience.

The Best Internet Marketing Advice for Small Business

The popularity of the reality show 'Undercover Boss' made me realize how few business owners realize that being on the front line with customers is the best source of information available to their companies. Unlike big business that has to make a significant effort to be face to face with their customers (although the smart ones are using social media to make that easier), as a small business owner you are likely to be face to face with your customer weekly, if not daily.

How to Apply My Advice

Ask. Your. Customers. Wondering what keywords to optimize your site for? Ask your customers (in your own words and document their answers!):

  1. When did you first realize you needed XYZ? (what caused the need)
  2. What did you call it when you first realized a problem? (how do they describe the issue or need or want)
  3. How did you describe the thing you needed to solve your problem? (how do they describe the solution?)
  4. How did you find us? (ad, directory, online search, friend referral)
  5. Why did you decide to buy from us? (price, location, availability, recommendation)

Next, take down the phrases that you have gleaned from your customer as you are cashing them out, and go to Google's free keyword tool. Type your phrases in and you will get back a whole list of phrases similar to that, along with search and competition volume. Choose the phrases that are closest to you and your business (if you are a bookkeeper, use your location. Don't use bookkeeping software unless you actually sell bookkeeping software.)

Try to find those keywords that have a lower search and competition volume, are most relative, and are the most specific. Gather together that list, and you now have your next blog topics, social media posts, etc.

Next, use those phrases and create Google Alerts for them. If you have a Google account, save the search as a RSS feed or have it emailed to you. Now you can monitor other web activity around your target phrases, see new trends emerge in your market, or see what prospects are saying.

Will you see results overnight? Not likely. Will you be able to beat the big guy eventually and grow your business? Yes. Do you want the same customer as the Walmart down the street? That is another blog post altogether.

Curious as to what the other top 2 things small business owners ask me? Tune in to my first radio interview to hear more internet marketing tips for small business.

Do you want to get your internet marketing going for your small business? Check out our upcoming inbound internet marketing training course designed for small business.

Market on my fellow small businesses!


Topics: small business internet marketing, inbound marketing for small business