- Every business needs to constantly work on new customer acquisition
- Start with reputation management to attract customers already looking for you
- Add advertising later to accelerate new customer acquisition
Even if your business has some loyal regulars, you need to attract a steady stream of new customers. In years past, the only way to do this was advertising. Things have changed.
We’re not trying to discourage you from doing marketing—quite the opposite, in fact. We advise that small businesses spend 7-8% of revenue on marketing, which aligns with guidance from the U.S. Small Business Administration. But how you spend that money matters.
Reputation management must come first
As we’ve discussed in previous articles, the way people find and research local businesses has totally changed in the last few years. In almost every case, customers research your business online, including reading reviews on sites like Google and Yelp, before deciding to spend money with you.
It’s time to adjust your marketing plan to reflect this new reality. In the past, local businesses would go straight to buying local radio, TV, or newspaper ads. These days, it’s critical to take control of your online presence first. If you don’t start with reputation management, your advertising dollars will simply push more people to see your bad reviews and poor star ratings, which will actually hurt your customer acquisition efforts and drain your marketing budget.
Use advertising to accelerate customer acquisition
Once your reputation management program is in place and you have a solid online presence, advertising can be a great investment. Done in the proper order, advertising pushes more people to research your business online at precisely the moment when they’re looking to spend money.
Local businesses that incorporate online reviews and reputation management into their marketing plan report having better marketing success overall, according to research by Street Fight. If advertising is a megaphone, reputation management is a magnet. When you have both working for you in harmony, your marketing program will take off.
If advertising is a megaphone, reputation management is a magnet.
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