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Social media can be a great way for small businesses to market themselves without a big budget. When you decide to spend time on your social media marketing efforts, there are a few things you can do to plan ahead. Bring out a calendar and take notes on these tips and you could have your whole year planned out ahead of you.

1. Set Goals

As with any plan you need to start by setting goals. Not just numbers but what you really want to get out of your social media marketing.  Do you want to generate traffic, or revenue? Do you want to create a larger following or create more interaction? These goals will ultimately decide how you lay out your plan. It’s okay to have more than one goal and they might even change over time but setting these kinds of larger goals is a great starting point.

2. Look at what other companies are doing

It’s good to think outside the box but sometimes it’s also good to see what your competition or even big brand names have done. Look at what’s worked for them and what hasn’t. See how you can emulate their types of posts.

3. Create “social media” promotions to create more followers

Creating deals on your Save Local Now account that require following your company on social media is a great way to get more followers. With smart phones it is easy for customers to walk in and show that they have done this to receive the promotion. You can also go another step and ask that they share your promotion on their own account. This works especially well with Facebook and Twitter and is easy to set up from your Save Local Now deal creator.

4. Engage

Automatic posting and clicking “like” or “favorite” aren’t good enough sometimes. If a customer decides to interact with you on social media, sometimes it’s nice to leave a comment or engage in a conversation with that customer. One of my personal favorite clothing companies Conversation Pieces has built an entire marketing strategy around interactions and it has definitely made their customer base grow!

5. Up the Ante

Maybe you have time for this and maybe you don’t but eventually you should try to post more than once a day on your social media accounts. Use your research to see what days are best for posting and maybe try to do more posting on those days at first. This can make any small business appear more friendly and create even more brand awareness.

6. Use hashtags

Hashtags might be something that a lot of people use to be funny but a lot of people use it to search for products or even services. Facebook has jumped on the hashtag game but these are more commonly used on Twitter or Instagram

7. Follow back

When a customer follows you on social media, it’s obviously more likely that they will see your posts. If you were to “follow” them as well, there is an even better chance that they will share your content. Imagine that you start following your favorite little cupcake shop on instagram, and then you see that they have started following you back. It’s exciting and you’d probably tell at least 2 friends! It might also be a good idea to follow some other companies or organizations in town. The chamber of commerce is always willing to share your business and other groups or companies might be willing to do the same.

8. Use photos

Sharing photos of you and your coworkers is definitely a great way to show your stripes. It adds a human side to your marketing. Photos could be serious, silly, creative, or show some charity your team might be doing. You can also share pictures of products or satisfied customers (with their permission) but make sure you do include yourself and your team as well.

9. Create Brand Identity

Make sure that across all your social media pages you have a similar message and similar branding. It makes it easier for customers to find you if you have the same profile picture across all platforms plus it creates awareness for your brand. Big companies like Nike and Apple know the power of using a logo at every opportunity and just because you are smaller, doesn’t mean you can’t do the same.

10. Always keep your customers in mind

Ultimately your customers experience is what you want to improve. You should keep your own goals in mind but it’s important to ask yourself what your customers might like or want to see when planning. Take a peak at your social media followers and see that they are into. You can also just create one on one conversations with your customers in person to see what kind of things they might like to see on your social platforms.

These 10 tips are a great way to get started on social media planning. You might not use all platforms but I suggest you try at least one. Get started and see how you can improve and strengthen your companies marketing plan with social media.

As you know, Save Local Now allows you to created UNLIMITED Deals for your business for FREE. What you might not have known is the importance creating those deals has on customer loyalty and how you have the opportunity to create revenue for your business. This article says it best:

“on average, according to most industry estimates, it costs nine times more money to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Each time a customer redeems a coupon, it’s an opportunity to connect with them on a personal level. Ask for their e-mail address, or encourage them to write a review of your products or services on local directory listing sites. Ask them to follow you on Twitter or join your Facebook Fan Page, and always follow-up with further promotions down the road. Make sure to deliver something of value to your customers –- don’t spam them with unwanted e-mails, but offer compelling, targeted offers that nurture an ongoing relationship.

Why not try some unique customer loyalty promotions? Try a coupon sent to only your most loyal customers, or open your shop one hour early for loyal customers, paired with coffee and croissants and a store-wide 15% off discount.”

Let Save Local Now help you achieve customer loyalty. Less than 5 minutes of your time may amount to 5 loyal customers! You have the advantage of getting ahead of the big box stores that bombard their customers with thoughtless, unpersonalized, generic emails. So, what are you waiting for? Get started on making those deals and make some new customers today!

The madness of Black Friday may be over but there are still many consumers running around getting last minute Christmas gifts. Here are some tips to help spread holiday cheer and get more shoppers this year.

1. Decorate the store and show how festive you are!

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2. Put together a holiday gift baskets for shoppers to buy

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3. Crank up that Christmas music and get people in the holiday spirit!

4. Offer gift wrapping with purchase

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5. Offer small stocking stuffer items
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6. Decorate your businesses Christmas tree
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7. Plan a fun holiday Event and upload it on $LN
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8. Don’t forget to smile!
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9. Post a Christmas Deal on $LN to get them excited!
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10. And of course, wish all your amazing loyal customers a Merry Christmas!
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1. Shopping local creates jobs.

Most local stores hire within the community. Making them successful allows them to hire more people, which creates more jobs, and therefore more money spent locally!

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2. Shopping local saves you money.

It might appear cheaper in big box stores or online but every little bit counts…including gas and shipping. When you shop at the store that you can walk to you won’t have to pay for any of that! Who doesn’t want to save on gas?!

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3. Local, independent shops do more to give back to the community.

Most local businesses do a lot to support our communities through local charities, schools, and community events. Doing good feels great!


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4. Better customer service.

Studies have shown us time and time again that people receive better customer service when they shop locally.

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5. Avoiding Walmart.

Do we have to say more?

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6. Shopping local keeps services in business.

Local shops go hand in hand with the local services such as the tailor, hairdresser and banker. If there are no shops then there are no services…which means you’d have to cut your own hair.

 

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7. Keep dollars Local

Fact: Locally owned businesses put a greater revenue share back into the local economy compared to chain stores.

 

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8. Support entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is what fuels America’s economy. Be patriotic! Support innovation and prosperity!

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9. Help the environment.

Not only are you helping your wallet by not spending money on transportation; you’re also helping the environment. Shopping local means less sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, and pollution.

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10. Local shops offer more unique products.

Shopping locally provides you with the opportunity to discover something different. You’re not likely to find the same thing at a local store as you would at the mall. Find something unique like a vintage prom dress or maybe even a unicorn!

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Don’t forget: Small business Saturday is November 30th. Get out and buy local! Use the Save Local Now app to find all the great deals and holiday events your local stores have to offer!

In light of cyber Monday and small business Saturday, we thought we’d talk about the importance of using mobile apps. Today, nearly 130 million Americans will be shopping on their mobile devices.  That’s 43 million more than last year. With over 81 billion total apps to be downloaded by 2013, one of the best ways to market your business is to market through mobile apps. Let’s look at some interesting statistics:

84% of small business owners saw an increase in business activity after mobile marketing efforts

26% of small businesses have mobile friendly websites

64% of small businesses will increase mobile marketing budget.

69% agreed that mobile marketing is key to small business growth in next 5 years

If your still not convinced that mobile marketing is the way to go keep this in mind, by 2015, mobile online shopping will reach $163 billion worldwide. It is important for small businesses to keep up. Not sure if your business needs a mobile app? Here is a list of the top business with mobile apps

Restaurants: 22%

Professional Services: 14%

Fitness Clubs: 12%

Hotels and Resorts: 11%

Nightclubs & Bars: 11%

Musicians: 10%

Nonprofit Organizations: 7%

Automotive: 5%

Other Small Businesses: 8%

With Save Local now, you can develop your market strategy and promote your business for FREE as a member of your chamber. So, what are you waiting for? Sign into your account and make those deals and events!

Young Professional Organizations (YPOs) are a vital part of any town. Their members are the 20 to 30 somethings that make up a large percentage of the thinkers and doers in the community. When they get together they can be the driving force behind any local economy. Most YPOs are a sub-group of the chamber of commerce and wield tremendous influence. A great way your community can cater to more YPOs is to put them on Save Local Now.

Here is why you need YPOs in your town:

1) They grow the city center- People ages 25-34 tend to make up a large percentage of the downtown dwellers in cities as young people like to live close to the amenities that come with living in a public area.

2) They are well educated- Educational attainment is one of the primary drivers of a region’s income and economic growth and people age 25 to 34 tend to have the highest levels of education among any age group.

3) They are ready to work- Young workers are most likely to fill the gap of laborers the baby boomers leave behind. As the U.S. “baby boomers” (about 77 million) are retiring, more positions will need to be filled. The population growth can handle it but catering to the younger professionals will ensure that your town does not get overlooked as a place for them to reside.

4) They are starting businesses- People age 25-34 are the most likely to start a business or be involved in start-up businesses. Research shows the businesses they start are more likely to grow and thrive.

5) They are starting families- Attracting a 25-34 year old to your town or city isn’t the same as attracting the 17-25 year olds. This group is more likely to start and grow a career, buy a home and start a family.

So how does Save Local Now help?

1) $LN is an incentive to move-Young Professionals comprise the most mobile age group. They are looking for a place to develop roots and consider community benefits to be the deciding factors in where they reside. They are also the most technologically advanced age group. Having your entire community on one app is an enticing factor for any young professional whether they are looking to start a business and participate in the chamber, or just shop and explore from their mobile device.

2) $LN is a tool for them to use-Young Professional Organizations make it a goal to make life fun and exciting for their demographic. They are always talking to businesses to get deals and events together for their members. The chamber in Racine, WI created a special $LN category where any business can post deals and events targeting YPs. Any member of the YPO can use their $LN app to find any event or deal that pertains to them all in one place.

3) $LN is how they can share with others-Young Professionals are constantly networking. They are the highest age group percentage wise using social media and mobile apps to share contacts, ideas and especially their favorite businesses. Engaging a YPO in your town to use Save Local Now means they will be using it to share on Facebook and Twitter and to engage their friends to download our app as well.

One thing that we are extremely proud of at Save Local Now is the fact that we create this great tool for businesses and chambers to drive local economic growth but we leave it up to you to use it successfully. We truly believe in the power of a grassroots movement and we know how much more successful small businesses can be with marketing because they are ready and willing to do what it takes. So you’re already on Save Local Now and you’re creating the deals and events for your customers. How do you ensure that they find you? You have to encourage people to download the app!  Of course you can put up the $LN window flyers up but you can even take it a little farther. Here are some really great ideas:

Community Events Every community play, concert, picnic, or town hall meeting. What better way to announce $LN at a gathering of all the town residents!
Public Libraries-Here’s a place people frequent every day! Aside from posting something in the window you could include a half sheet flyer with the QR code in every bag or in the folds of the books at checkout!
Grade Schools– Parents are always looking for ways to save money. Again, more than just posting flyers around the hallways you could send a flyer home with the kids informing their parents how they can be saving at everything from groceries, to school supplies and how they can patronize your members businesses.
YMCA’s and Recreation centers– This is another great place that is busy year round. People who frequent these sites are typically all about helping out community organizations to grow.
Colleges and Universities– Imagine a whole market of tech savvy people making a new home in a town they’ve never lived in! Even if they are local, college students are the biggest market of consumers on the planet. It is their entire way of life! And guess what? Due to the average budget of a student, they are CONSTANTLY looking for ways to save money! If that doesn’t scream opportunity, I don’t know what does! Save Local Now should be posted in the common areas and at the sports arenas. What if $LN was included in the orientation process?! This will be a massive boost to all the businesses in town. I guarantee it!
Community shared space– such as parks or town squares. The more you place the logo and QR code in front of people, the more people will be reminded to frequent their app.

Bottom Line-The more people frequent the app or site, the more options they have to save locally instead of spending money elsewhere. For every dollar spent in the local economy 73% stays in the local economy to grow things like community events, public libraries, schools, and community organizations! It’s a wonderful cycle of growth and we really believe that with our help you have the power to be a part of it!

When a person sees a deal offering savings, they get excited. When a person sees an exclusive deal or event not available to everyone, they feel obligated to use it. Offering something to only a small handful of people can make your customer feel special, important, and appreciated. This is one of the best ways to guarantee your offer will be redeemed!

A great way to accomplish this is to use the tools already available to you. Even if you don’t keep an email list of customers (You should!) or a social media page (We can teach you!_ you can still create a VIP event or exclusive deal using Save Local Now! Here are a few ideas on how this could work for you:

Promote $LN downloads: Create a deal that is “exclusively for Save Local Now users.” In the description tell your clients that they will be asked to show the deal from their mobile device or print it out from home. Emphasize that it is only for those customers who have found the deal on $LN. This will encourage people who have found the offer to tell their friends to start using Save Local Now! This will also encourage existing customers to constantly check out your offers on $LN.

Get more social media presence: Even if you don’t have a social media page you can use Save Local Now to create a deal or event that can only be redeemed by the sharing of it by your customers. In the deal description, explain that the person must prove (either through mobile or print) that they have shared your deal or event on their Facebook or Twitter page.

Create return customers: I personally think this is a great idea for Events specifically but you could use it for Deals just as easily. Why not create a Special VIP offer with discounted available to those who sign up for your email list? Use the Save Local Now custom button option to drive consumers to a landing page that allows them to type in their email address, or tell them in the event description to come in and sign up for a VIP ticket to the event! As an added incentive you could let them know that you plan on offering future discounts or parties only to the people on that list. People will be sure to check back with you again and again!

So, to summarize, you don’t need to have an established social media presence or a robust email list to create these exclusive deals and events,  you can use Save Local Now to reap the benefits of both!

 

What’s better than getting dinner and a free show? Or a bottle of wine to take home with those holiday candles you bought? Or maybe a free teeth whitening with your usual massage treatment? If these don’t sound like great offers, think again because it’s exactly the kind of thing your customers are looking for.

Deal Bundling is when you offer two or more products or services to your customers for one cost. This is one of the most successful strategies for a business and is especially affective when created between two or more businesses and here’s why:

  • Low Marginal Costs
  • Increases Volume of unit sales
  • Exposure, exposure, exposure. With other businesses involved you get a market of customers.
  • Markets new, overstocked, or lesser known products

Consumers love the idea of getting two or even three things for one price, making bundling one of the most effective deals you can offer! There are many ways you can use bundling not only to attract customers but to help your business in other ways as well:

You can improve slow periods or seasons. Imagine you are an ice cream store who also sells coffee in a town that gets hit very hard with winter every year. You can use Deal Bundling to bring people in for your coffee when they might not normally think of it by bundling a deal with the neighboring theater!

You can advertise a new service. If you are a hair salon that recently decided to offer massage, you can Deal Bundle and offer a massage with a hair treatment between your stylist and massouse. Or if you are a book store that has recently decided to sell Movies as well, try bundling with the restaurant next door for dinner and a movie!

You can also use bundling to decrease any overstocked item. Maybe you are a novelty shop with an excess of stylish phone cases. You could always bundle with the mobile or technology store in town.

The possibilities really are endless but here is the best part:

You and all the other chamber businesses in your town are already on an app that will allow you to create these deals and offers,  reach all of your consumers simultaneously, and share them on your email list and social media websites.

WHAT?!?!? That’s right! I challenge you to open up your $LN app right now and pick three other businesses that might offer something that pairs well with your product or service. Now think of all the new customers you could get by bringing their customers into your business. I’m talking a whole new market of people who are just waiting to try your company!

Also, by bundling with other businesses in town, all the employees will be encouraged to tell more people to download the app. This means even if people aren’t interested in that particular deal they will likely be interested in future deals!

Bundling can be tricky though. Make no mistake, you wouldn’t want to combine a burger and fries with an appointment at a health clinic. You also have to work closely with another business to determine what’s a fair deal and how to collect the money. Here are some suggestions on how to make this work:

Determine the prices of what both businesses are going to offer, reduce a percentage, and offer one pre-determined price. This way customers can purchase the first item and receive a coupon for the free item at the other business. The money is just split to the determined prices later. This one looks best to a consumer because they are seeing one price and two (or three) items. It signals that they are getting something for free which drives more return on the deal.

If it is a service such as a massage or hair treatment or dental appointment, sometimes a price can be hard to pre-determine. Instead of restricting the type of service your clients can receive (ex: 30 min massage only) which might hurt the popularity of the deal, offer a percentage off.  In fact, if you don’t have a specific item you want to market, it’s best not to be too specific:

“$25 Hair coloring with the purchase of any dress $30 or more” doesn’t sound as good as “35% off Annies spa with the purchase of any item $30 or more.” and wont eliminate potential clients who might not be interested in dresses or hair coloring. Percentages discounts are beneficial because they drive more client interest and will increase the average sale total.

So now I’ve told you about one of the most popular types of deals you can offer and how it can benefit your business in a tremendous way. And you already have a free tool to get started with, so….what are you waiting for?!

If you have read any of the blogs where I mention using keywords to describe your business, or promoting your business through social media, chances are you’ve heard me mention SEO. Whether you’ve heard of SEO or not, it can be a tricky thing to comprehend. So let’s go through it.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and refers to how high up your webpage shows up in search engines when people use them to search for your product. So if you sell shoes in Racine, Wisconsin and someone does a search for “shoes, Racine” in Google, Yahoo, Bing or any of the others and your page is the first to come up, you have good SEO.

How can you change your SEO?

This is a tricky question as each search engine has its own “algorithm” to determine which websites appear higher in results. Some of the things they are looking for include:

  • Words
  • Titles
  • Number of Links
  • Words in Links
  • Reputation

Well, I have some really great news for you:

Save Local Now has an entire team dedicated to improving your SEO!

The way it works is we take your “Keywords” category in your business profile on $LN and use SEO best practices to make sure those keywords link up with your business! This means people will be able to find your business easier, faster, and most important, before they find others. Just another way we try to make your business BOOM!

There are also ways you can create better SEO practices for yourself so take a look at this Periodic Table of SEO Factors from the experts at the website Search Engine Land and try to follow these simple guidelines when creating any content on the web:

Content: Whether describing your deal on $LN or editing your company’s website, try to use keywords people might search for when looking for your business, as well as having fresh, and engaging content. Websites that are outdated move down on the Search Engines list.

Headlines: There should be headlines or highlighted keywords on your webpage. This does not mean you should put a word in bold every time you want people to find you through it as this is considered a violation, not to mention looks terrible. There are ways to lay out the content on your page in a simple and well organized manner that will let browsers know exactly what your business is about.

Sharing: The more people are sharing your Deals, Events, or business name through social media and other sites the better your website’s SEO. We create the option to share every Deal and Event through $LN so that people can in turn share them with their friends!