Creating Local Value: Small Business Saturday Q&A with Kristi Hines

It’s a few more days till Small Business Saturday (Nov.26th)….and the beginning of the holiday season! There is no better time than now to rev up your social media campaign to grab new customers, deepen relationships with your existing clientele, and promote your brand.

Kristi Hines (@kikolani), an online marketing consultant and blog auditing specialist, joins us today to offer her insights on how to do just that. Let this be your best Small Business Saturday yet!

Q. How can a local retailer or service business use the internet to drive customers through their doors?

A. Any local business can use local search marketing and optimization to help drive customers from the Internet through their doors. They have to make sure their website is optimized in a way that tells search engines that they have a physical location by including their address and local phone number on the website. Then they have to dress up their profiles on Google Places and Yelp so that visitors who come across them will see that it is an active, lively business. Last, but not least, they need to engage with local audiences whenever possible on Twitter and Facebook.

Q. When looking at a website of a new business, how do you judge if the business is credible or not?

A. I always feel a well-designed website is like someone who walks in wearing a nice suit. They take pride in what they do, so much so that they dress to match their experience. A business that takes pride in its presentation will dress their website to match that professionalism as well.

Q. What do you see as the best use-case for running promotions through a social check-in tool like Foursquare? How about a deal site like Groupon?

A. The best thing about both Foursquare and Groupon marketing is exposure. When people tweet their location, their friends see the business name popup and are probably curious why someone goes there. When a business shares their deals through Groupon, it gets their business right in the inbox of people who may have never even thought about trying out their products or services.

Q. What’s your favorite example of a company running an online promotion that drove additional traffic to their physical store(s)?

A. Best Buy does a great job driving me to their stores. I know that I can ask a technical question about their products to their @twelpforce and get an answer within 15 minutes. This almost always leads me to visiting my local store and buying the product, even though I could maybe get it for a little less if I comparison shopped online. But the great real-time customer service is too much to pass up!

Q. What’s your favorite social media tool that a small business should use to promote themselves?

A. Any small business, even local, can be taking advantage of simple Twitter search queries. You don’t even need a fancy tool – just go to Twitter.com and type in keywords related to your industry in the search box. A great local search string example is as follows.

For example: coffee near:phoenix -filter:links ? tells Twitter to look for anyone who has tweeted about coffee in the Phoenix area where the tweet has no links and includes a question mark, generally signifying a question. While not all of the results are going to be what you need, you will find the occasional person asking for a recommendation of where to get good coffee in their area. It never hurts to jump in with an answer.

Kristi Hines is an online marketing consultant, http://kristihines.com/, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast who enjoys photography, tennis, and salsa dancing. You can follow her at @kikilani.

To learn about mobile apps that help consumers find and review  your busines, take a look at our previous post, Mobile Apps: Monitoring Your Customers’ Reviews.  You can also check out our previous interviews from our Small Business Saturday series to find out some of their useful and valuable marketing tips!

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