Being “Findable” means a business is visible to consumers where and when they’re ready to buy. It also means being found first in their category, before competitors. For local businesses, this used to be a fairly simple process—run ads in the local newspaper or Yellow Pages, and then rely on customer referrals. But times have changed.
Today’s consumers are different. Nowadays, consumers use an average of nearly eight different media tools to research local purchases before they buy.1 In addition to perusing proven media like print ads and directories, many consumers now rely heavily on the web. In fact, nearly 70 percent of consumers start their local business searches online.2 And that includes mobile, where more than 40 percent of mobile phone users search for information on their phones.
Challenges. Local businesses need to develop a coordinated offline and online marketing program in order to reach across the myriad of ways today’s digitally savvy and mobile buyers search and shop. For many small business owners, this can present some tough challenges due to:
- Limited time and resources to implement marketing programs
- Limited marketing knowledge
- Knowing the most effective places to start, and
- Maximizing their return on investment.
An important step toward addressing these challenges for local businesses is identifying key marketing components that have the most impact on being findable.
The Five Factors of Being Findable. There are five key marketing components or factors that help identify how findable a business is to consumers. The degree at which a local business is engaged in each factor plays an important role in determining their overall visibility. The five factors of being findable are:
- Physical Location
- Online Presence
- Reputation & Community
Brand. A company’s brand is its unique identity—including its name, logo, colors, tagline and more—that helps to distinguish it from others. Companies with strong brands attract prospects, bring back customers, and create a powerful advantage in the local market versus lesser known competitors. By sending a consistent brand message across varying media, a business can build its brand awareness and increase its chances of standing out to consumers. That way, when the customer is ready to buy, that business is automatically top of mind.
Physical Location. A company’s tangible presence in the market is more than just its store front and a big sign above the door. It includes everything from company vehicles to sign spinners to delivery uniforms with logos. They are all a way of extending the reach of your physical presence beyond the bricks and mortar of your establishment and increasing your visibility. Of course, for most businesses, it’s important to have a good location in a high traffic area and clear signage promoting business hours, website and special offers. But to grow and thrive in today’s crowded and competitive marketplace, companies need to proactively promote their location when and where consumers look for them.
Advertising. Most entrepreneurs understand that advertising is a company’s voice. It is the process of communicating to prospects what is unique about their business, product or services. Advertising makes up a single component of the marketing process and uses the right mix of traditional advertising and newer online vehicles to ensure the right message is delivered to the right prospects at the right time. Local businesses need to cross-promote using multiple touch points across different forms of media to effectively be seen by and reach today’s consumers.
Online Presence. Online marketing can open up a huge new audience of potential customers. But building a strong online presence means more than just putting up a website. It entails optimizing Web pages for search engines (SEO), paying for Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to dominate results pages, a business Facebook® page, a Twitter™ handle, digital directories, listings, mobile applications and more. And considering new research that shows how consumers are searching for information these days, being found online by consumers can be critical to the long-term success of almost any company.
Reputation & Community. Consumers generate word of mouthabout the companies they have experiences with online and offline every day. Local businesses that listen to their customers benefit by not only understanding how people feel about them, but they have the opportunity to guide the conversation rather than react to it. Through social media, blogs, review sites and more, local businesses can help manage their reputationand interaction with online communities. Being involved in the local community offline through sponsorships, memberships, charities and other ways is equally important in promoting findability, goodwill and brand loyalty.
Small businesses face long odds to survive. According to the Small Business Administration, only 70 percent of small to medium-sized business employers survive at least two years, half at least five years, a third at least 10 years, and a quarter stay in business 15 years or more.1 The most important success factor for almost every small business is getting found. So it’s critical that local businesses take steps to increase visibility across multiple channels. By understanding how the five factors of being findable help identify and optimize marketing efforts, local businesses can begin developing marketing programs that reach today’s consumers when and how they are searching for the products and services they need.
How Findable Are You?™ Test your visibility in each of the five factors right now for free. Take a couple minutes and get your Findability Score by answering five simple questions about your business. Learn where you stand and how easy it is for consumers to find you today. Discover what you need to focus on to improve your flow of customers and get advice on ways of improving your business’s visibility.
1 – Source: Kelsey Group, 2010
2 – Source: Small Business Administration, January 2011