By Eric Shanfelt, CEO & Founder of Local Marketing Institute®

Is there really an inexpensive digital marketing strategy for local businesses? Yes, there is! With a little effort and about $150 per month, you can have a solid digital marketing strategy that will help you get more customers. You just need to focus on the fundamentals and avoid being distracted by Internet shiny objects.

Digital marketing often seems overwhelming and expensive for most local businesses. There are so many different marketing options trying to get your attention … and new ones coming out every day. And there are hundreds of different tools and services trying to get you to spend your money with them.

How do you make sense of it all?

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Two of my favorite local gurus, David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal, recently discussed a digital marketing strategy using tactics that are free or inexpensive. I wanted to share this with you because they did a brilliant job and reflect much of what we talk about here at Local Marketing Institute.

Steps in an Inexpensive Digital Marketing Strategy

  • Website– Every local business must have a solid website with your own domain even if it’s just a single page. You can’t just rely upon a Facebook page. This is critical for local search optimization and gives potential customers confidence that you’re a legitimate business. It doesn’t have to be expensive to create or run a basic business website. David and Mike estimate around $80 per month and I concur.
  • Local Search – Bottom line, people today use search engines and online directories to find local businesses. If your business isn’t well represented in these search engines and directories, you’re missing customers and leaving money on the table. David and Mike talk about a great tool, Moz Local, that can help you manage your local search presence for about $10 per month for a single location. BTW, if you haven’t done it already, be sure to download Local Marketing Institute’s Local SEO Checklist. It outlines the entire process you should follow to optimize your presence in local search.
  • Email – Email is still one of the most effective marketing tactics even with Millennials. It’s not expensive to setup and there are lots of tactics you can use to grow your email list. David and Mike talk about how Mailchimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers. They don’t mention Constant Contact because they don’t have a free tier, but it’s also used by many local businesses.
  • Reviews / Ratings – Getting online reviews and ratings for your business is another key tactic we talk about in the Local SEO Checklist. There are ways to do this manually and we usually recommend focusing your efforts on Google, Facebook and Yelp. Dave and Mike talk about another tool that we’re fans of here at LMI, GetFiveStars. This tool costs about $30 per month per location and does a great job of helping generate new online reviews, manage negative reviews before they get posted publicly, and keep up-to-speed on reviews people are posting online.
  • Local Advertising – There are some great local online advertising options (like advertising through a local business journal). But if your business is on a very tight budget, we often recommend looking at local pay-per-click advertising through Facebook, Google and Bing. David and Mike talk about how even $50 per month can help get you started and drive customers your way. They recommend starting with Facebook. I agree that Facebook is a great local advertising platform, but I typically recommend local businesses start with both Facebook and Google.
  • Social Media – David and Mike don’t talk about social media as a core local business digital marketing strategy and I can understand why. Social media can be an incredible time-suck. I see many businesses wasting a lot of time and effort on social media platforms without getting much return on their effort. However, I do believe that every local business should at least have a Facebook page that is optimized. It doesn’t cost you anything and can be quite effective.

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Local Marketing Institute® provides local businesses with tips and training on local search, website strategies, email, social media, online advertising and reputation management. Learn more at https://localmarketinginstitute.com/