Everyone knows Broadway & Times Square. It’s the iconic heart of New York City. Times Square was always a buzz with tourists and businesses catering to them. You can almost find anything there from upscale restaurants on Restaurant’s Row, to dives, to chain stores.
However, like much of the entertainment industry, this neighborhood has been rocked by COVID. Many of the venues are anticipated to be shuttered until the Fall of 2021. This has left the areas businesses struggling to cope. Many have pivoted. Some are no longer around.
Hopefully, as things begin to start to return to some semblance of normal in the Fall Season, the key challenge facing many Time Square businesses will be re-engaging with lapsed customers and tourism.
A key ingredient in Lincoln Square's comeback post COVID is letting lapsed customers know you are around and welcome them back. With restrictions beginning to lift as we go into the summer, make sure you are ready with a great website.
It is important for any local business to engage in local digital marketing. Digital marketing has grown from a method of attracting more business to a means to attract and not to lose business to competition.
Some businesses think that they only need digital advertising if their business is large or is more regional or national in scope. It is a mistake that puts them at a competitive disadvantage. They are at a disadvantage because roughly 8 of 10 customers search before they buy.
A brand that is not part of that search is not likely to be considered, even if they are the best solution or product. Potential customers simply are not aware they exist.
More importantly, customers want to find solutions that are near to where they are. No one wants to travel out of their way to get what they need. The search term “_____ near me” has quadrupled over the past 5 years in google searches.
Another interesting trend that builds on the one above is that your target audience are not only looking for solutions near them but also available now.
The search term “_____ near me now” has tripled in the past 5 years. So, if you are a local bakery that sells cakes and offers discounts late in the day, being visible during a search at 3 pm for “cakes near me now” would be valuable. Plus, you can also sweeten the offer by making sure your discount is clearly visible online to potential local customers.
This builds on my prior points. If someone is searching for “cakes near me now” is probably looking to purchase one. In fact, Google reported in one of their studies that 90% of mobile searchers made a purchase.
Therefore, a local business, I would argue, is in the best position to meet that searcher's needs because they have a local market solution to their problem and are available now. The only thing left is to ensure that that search is aware that the business exists.
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 Kipps Bay interacting with your neighborhood can add value.
It also helps with when your calls to action focus on local events in and around Times Square 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 Times Square. 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 Times Square has two or more places to visit while out in the neighborhood.
A key ingredient in Times Square's comeback post COVID is letting lapsed customers and tourists know it’s safe, you are still here, and you welcome them back. Local digital marketing can help you do just that.
When using digital marketing, it is always good to start with the low cost items first. This way you can start to build your business organically before you have to spend a significant amount of money.
SEO can sometimes feel like rolling a boulder up a hill. It is a very time consuming and effort-intensive activity. However, there are a few methods, when applied consistently and well, can yield results.
Bots are programs that crawl the web and evaluate content. It’s important to know that they care about three things.
While the steps are simple, the algorithm is complex and constantly changing. Rather than trying to outsmart the bot, it is better to give them what they want.
For more details on search theory and how to feed bots, you can read my guest post on Business2Community.
When building a Local SEO strategy, the first step is to develop a keyword strategy. This is a more complicated process, but I will briefly cover the main steps.
It is important to consider how your customer might search for you. If you have Google Analytics or Google Search Console enabled, you can see which queries are driving people already.
If not, start by building a list of logical questions your customers might ask, then go to Google Keyword Planner and see how they rank. We use a paid tool, but your results should look similar to this.
Next, you will want to add the term ‘near me’ or ‘in _____ ‘ to the highest ranking terms, and see how they do.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to select those words where the volume is highest and keyword difficulty is lowest.
For most local businesses, it will be difficult to rank well for keywords with monthly search volumes about 1,000. Therefore, we recommend focusing on those between 100-1,000 when you are starting out.
Here is more information If you wish to delve keyword planning in greater detail.
Many businesses make the mistake of not investing the time and effort in linking a given keyword to a given page. The primary reason to do this is to send a clear signal to the bot on where you would like this page to be indexed.
The second reason is to avoid having two of your own pages competing against each other for the same keyword. This is called keyword cannibalization, which tends to dilute your effectiveness.
It’s important to remember that both you and Google share the same goal, a satisfied searcher. If a visitor to your site doesn’t find the content useful, they will leave. That’s not a good experience for you or for Google.
GMB is a free platform that all businesses can access. You will also want to capture your free listing on Bing Places and Apple Maps.
The reason that I call out GMB is that nearly 8 out of every ten searches in the US are on Google. Therefore, the majority of your search traffic is likely to come from Google.
As you can see from this example of a search of “restaurants near me”, there are a set of three businesses that are given special prominence.
This is typically called the Google 3 pack. These businesses were the topic 3 restaurants ranking locally at the time of my search. These will vary on time of day, my personal search history, etc. If you click on one of these businesses, you will be taken to their GMB page.
The key takeaway from this discussion is that if you do your local SEO well, claim or create your SMB page, you can go far with the only cost being your time.
GMB is a free resource that is easily accessible to any business owner. The process is simple. If you would like more information, you can read the GMB FAQ page for a more step by step guide.
Each area has its own set of local pages, typically local news sites, that can help you with your local SEO.
One of the key signals for Google is a consistent name, address, and phone number (NAP). A consistent NAP is a clear signal to Google that your business is legitimate. The more signals that you have, the better you will perform in local search.
Local listings used to be nearly always free. However, in the past several years, this has shifted. I call this the great monetization. While you can still gain a number of listings for free, it is becoming increasingly difficult. For some of the best listings, you may have to bite the bullet and pay their listing fee.
You can successfully leverage digital marketing in [location], quite successfully at a reasonable cost if you remember these three things.