I have lived in Manhattan for the past 20 years or so. I have watched the city change dramatically in just that small window of time. Twenty years is a long time, but few cities are as dynamic and ever evolving as Manhattan is.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, and I think it is a great city. Although I haven't lived there in twenty years or so, it still feels very familiar. In contract, the Chelsea I moved into in the late 1990s looks nothing like it did then. You would be hard pressed to see anything that has remained the same.
That's the fundamental challenge of Manhattan. How to survive and remain relevant when you are living in a whirlwind of change and evolution. Each neighborhood is slightly different in its rate of change, but they all share a similar theme - if you are standing still, you are falling behind.
Great web design is important no matter where you are located. However, in densely populated areas like Manhattan, where mobile usage is high. It is cost of entry. You are at a significant disadvantage without it.
Strategy is a term that is misused often. A strategy is making a clear choice of between options. As a metaphor, I like to use a vacation as the example. The strategy is choosing where to go. The tactic is the means of transportation. Here, you need to evaluate if the agency you choose has a clear understand of where you are going and how it can deploy its tactics to help you win.
Sometimes marketing is an investment. Sometimes programs work. Sometimes, they fail. Regardless, you need a measurement plan in place to know which to kill and which to grow.
Learning is part of any marketing campaign. It is how you improve and grow. The market is constantly changing. You will be best suited to meet that change if you constantly testing.
Digital marketing is a diverse field. One group specializes on web design and another on social. If you need a specialized agency for each, the costs add up quickly. Each have overheads they need to cover. This is where a full service agency can help. Those overheads are shared the different disciplines. Now, one caveat, it is important to know that the full service agency can provide the same if not better quality as the specialized.
Large company solutions or carbon copies of other campaigns rarely work for small businesses. If you are seeking marketing help, make sure that the firm you chose has the experience in small business.
If a marketing firm will not share some of the risk with you, then they are not as vested in the outcome as you are.
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 Manhattan 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 Manhattan. 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 Manhattan has two or more places to visit while out in the neighborhood.
Manhattan businesses are constantly trying to stand out. They are always competing with new ideas, concepts, and new ways to solve old problems. The question many of them face is about the brand. Can it evolve, or is it too rooted in one thing or another. Can the brand be authentic to both, or do you have to choose?
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.
As I said earlier, Manhattan is a place of constant change. This can be incredibly challenging for a brand to manage. Branding is about consistency and building equity. How can you do that when tastes and customers change so quickly?
The key is to find your core equity, which is less about what you do and more about who you are and why you do it? Methods and things can change, but core values do not. That's how you can evolve. You can change what you do or how you do it, without sacrificing the brand to do it.
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 Manhattan 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 Hudson Yards”.
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 neighborhoods are in Manhattan. 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 Manhattan Chamber of Commerce or New York Small Business Services 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 that you will score points on relevance.
These same tools would apply if you want to target local SEO in NYC