New York's second largest city gets a bit lost sometimes. I lived in Central and Western New York before moving to Manhattan. It's hard for the upstate cities to compete with all the noise my beloved NYC makes. However, these cities can teach us a lot about resiliency, tenacity, and grit.
I grew up in Pittsburgh during the deindustrialization of the US in 1970-80s. I have a special admiration for these industrial hubs that had to battle through some tough times and reinvent themselves. Buffalo survived, and its economy has made significant gain in the 2010s. It is testament to the hardworking people who stayed in the region to help it rebuild.
Western New York poses some unique marketing challenges. With the digital migration COVID has forced us to make, as region rebuilds, should businesses focus solely locally or expand beyond the region in light of their digital investment?
Digital marketing won't work with a great website. Your website is more than just a pretty page, it's an invitation for a new customer to get to know your business. In areas like Buffalo where you can't always rely on foot traffic to raise awareness of business, a great website in conjunction with strong digital marketing can more than make up for it.
In other words, the small business has a clear understanding of their market segment, and they have a clear picture of how they can win. Strategic marketing is how you make this happen.
If there isn't a expected outcome and clear indication of your expected return, then find other help marketing your small business.
If the small business marketing agency you found to help raise your visibility in your market doesn't have a testing and learning plan, find someone else
Any small business digital marketing agency should have digital knowhow. But, you would be surprised that many don't. Before you accept marketing help for your small business, check their technical credentials. Do they offer email marketing? What does their own online marketing look like? How about social media marketing? What do their post look like?
This probably goes without saying, but you'll want to make sure that any marketing help you hire has significant small business experience. Large company solutions won't work.
Marketing is inherently risky. When seeking marketing help, see whether they will share the risk with your small business.
According to Best Designs, original graphics are the most successful.
“Original graphics make up 40% of all successful visual content that accomplishes marketing goals, but 43% of marketers struggle with the consistent production of captivating visuals.”
Since we are communicating one message, the artwork that supports it must work very hard to support the message. This is where local market know-how can really help. Original photos and images of your business in Buffalo interacting with your neighborhood can add value.
It also helps with when your calls to action focus on local events in and around Buffalo or at your business location.
Every email, no matter how trivial, should have a call to action. This is where all the hard work above pays off. If we omit one, we just wasted resources that could have been spent more cost effectively.
We cover email list building in great detail in our post on small business email marketing. Again, we will just hit the highlights here as it pertains to Buffalo. Every neighborhood has summer fairs. While these were severely impacted by COVID, in our post COVID world they should roar back with a vengeance. It would be smart to see if you could piggy-back off one or more of them.
Incentives, deals, free trials, and samples are all great options when developing your calls to action. See if you can partner with your neighbors to create a shared promotion. This way one shopper in Buffalo has two or more places to visit while out in the neighborhood.
Many businesses make the investment to deliver goods and services digitally to comply with COVID restrictions. They now face the question of what to do with that part of the business as things return to "normal" as more and more people are vaccinated. For those who decide they want to invest in digital delivery, digital marketing is critical.
I wish it were otherwise, but it is like a law of nature. The size of your account is directly proportional to the time the agency will spend on it. It is also proportional to the quality and experience of the talent that we are assigned to your business. Luckily, you can solve this problem by finding an agency where your business and budget matters to their bottom line. This is why smaller firms are preferable for smaller businesses.
Location is equally important. Most small businesses are local businesses, where the target audience is within a few blocks to mile radius from your location. Each place is unique. It has its own quirks. It takes someone who knows the area to understand those nuances. This is important because you want your ads to be perceived as authentic. Customers are easily turned off by cookie-cutter responses or creative.
Marketing is not an exact science, where you say X and your target always does Y. This doesn't mean that marketing does not work or that it is a waste of time. It simply acknowledges the fact upfront that marketing contains some risk. It is true that there are best practices that can reduce this risk to optimize your return.
However, you never have complete information so sometimes even the best plans take time or need tweaking. This is why you should seek a partner who is upfront about the risk and is willing to share it with you. You also have to be willing to invest the time in following best practices. If you are dictating all the terms, then it is only reasonable that you accept that risk.
If you're thinking about finding help in Buffalo for your small business, here are some things to keep in mind.
Aside from all the general tips above, here are some specific actions you can take based on the three key elements of local search algorithms:
All of this assumes that you have completed your keyword research and developed your keyword list. If you have not, this section will be more effective once you do. Please see our previous post on digital marketing in Buffalo and then come back.
Go through your keywords list and select those which are good descriptors of your business. If it were me, I would use something like “digital marketing agency”, “seo services”, for example. Then make a list of the neighborhoods you service, for example “seo services Niagara Falls”.
Now comes the harder part, that is frankly a bit tedious. For each combination, see if you can create a somewhat unique post that’s 500-1000 words for that keyword. For us, it is a post like this. I try to write a post that helps my potential clients learn something or do something they didn’t know they could.
Now, this is the good part. If you do write quality posts for these keywords, you will be raising your prominence. Google knows that all these locations are in or near Buffalo. So, for each good post you write, you help raise your prominence on a given topic in a given location.
Prominence is also helped by the basic techniques I mentioned earlier, such as being a part of local business groups. Please see the Buffalo Niagara Partnership or BBB of Buffalo for listings that might pertain to you. Any local listing helps.
This is why I like the blog technique because it hits all three key areas. If your keyword is a descriptor of what you do and the neighborhood is one you serve, it is highly likely that you will score points on relevance.
Finding the right SEO for your small business in a neighborhood like Buffalo can be a crucial way to get your company noticed online.
If you are interested in what more we do, check out Small Business Marketing in Buffalo.