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In the past, it was easy to reach local shoppers. A majority of households received a daily newspaper, so you purchased the run of a page or Sunday inserts based on the local population. Same with local television or cable, you purchased by gross rating points in the local news or live sporting events.

Verifying your ad buy was easy too, you just needed to open your copy of the paper or watch TV.

However, the challenge with traditional advertising is simple: you’re trying to reach a mass audience, a majority of whom are not in the market for your products or services today. As a result, most of your marketing spend is wasted with only anecdotal data to verify your return on investment.

HOW ARE CUSTOMERS SEARCHING FOR YOU ONLINE TODAY?

With digital marketing, you can cost-effectively reach a local audience of people who are raising their hand to show interest in your products or services.

Being top-of-mind when a consumer is ready to purchase is extremely important and can produce greatly for your business in terms of leads and sales.

Whether they’re typing in searches for your business itself or your brands, products and services, visiting relevant websites, or showing interest in other products that align with yours, you can put your business in the lead position with a strong marketing message instantly and cost-effectively online.

A few years ago Google, one of the top search engines, released a few tools to help businesses find out how customers were searching for them online.

1. Google Keyword Planner
Ask yourself: What words would I type into Google to find my products or services? These are known as keywords. Google’s Keyword Planner works to find the keywords that are most relevant to your business which you can then choose to add to your plan.

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Start by typing in the top 5 brands, products, and services you offer. Be sure to use multiple words for each search, for instance 'Serta' is a great brand search, while 'Serta iComfort Mattress' is a more specific product search to conduct.

The same is true for automotive: look up 'New Kia" and 'Kia lease' as well as '2017 Kia Soul' and 'New Kia Sorrento.

For healthcare, look up 'Coolsculpting near me' or 'Lasik practices.'

The Keyword Planner will show you how often keywords are searched and how their search volume changes over time. That way, you can narrow down your keyword list and set your budget for the keywords you really want.

Keep in mind these numbers are not 100% accurate. We find them to be directionally relevant to your research, but always lower than the actual number of searches happening in your location. In addition, Google commands approx. 70% of all online searches, while Bing.com accounts for the rest. So these numbers do not reflect searches happening on the second most-popular search tool.

2. Google Trends
Now that you know directionally how many local searches are happening via Google, it’s time to think about trends. Which of your products are services are trending up or down, year over year or month to month? Google Trends allows you to see research trends going back to 2004. As you input your brands, products and services, look for which of them are showing upward trends over time. Market research has never been easier.

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3. Google Search
Now that you’ve used the Keyword and Trends tools, it’s time to use Google.com to research your competition. How many businesses like yours in your market are advertising online for your brands, products, and services?

Connect to Google.com and type in your keywords from above. Write down the names of the 4 competitors who are showing up with [ad] at the very top of the page.

You’ll instantly see which national, multi-location retailers are paying to show up in your market, as well as other local independent stores who are in the mix.

After spending a few minutes with all three of these tools, you’ll quickly see that there’s a significant opportunity to reach new customers online.

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