The Evolution of Online Marketing for Small Business Owners

It Use to be Easy

15 years ago, or as we like to call it: BG (before Google), the complexities of marketing your small business to your local community were quite manageable. There was the yearly decision regarding the placement and ad type for your Yellow Pages listing, the budget and creatives for the local newspaper and other periodicals, and the potential inclusion in the neighborhood Value Pack. And, Well, that was about it. Not a huge amount of diversity and certainly not very complex. It was reasonable to assume that a small business owner could handle this marketing effort themselves.

Times have changed.

Google came along and quickly became the replacement for the Yellow Pages. Great for consumers, of course. This was a huge improvement over a book that was delivered once a year and out of date the second it was created. However, it started us down the path of diversity and complexity of advertising options that the small business owner had to navigate.

google online search

How do you “show up” in Google when people are looking for your products or services? Can you pay for an ad like you did with the Yellow Pages? Should you do that or focus on search engine optimization to show up for free? Or should you do both? Or neither? and what the heck is search engine optimization anyway? Suddenly small business owners had to become experts in new technology simply to compete.

It was only going to get worse.

Several years ago, Google implemented local listings (they named it local, places, and plus over the years) with small businesses shown on a map right in the search listings. This represented yet another way to show up (or not!) when someone was looking for you. How do you show up there? Is it the same as the “normal” search engine optimization?

( it’s not ).

The bottom line? When someone types in a search phrase today that should result in you showing up, there are at least three different paths you need to understand and plan for: paid ads, Google local listings, and the “regular” organic listings. Each requires completely separate knowledge, techniques, and resources to have any meaningful impact at all.

And, of course, we haven’t even touched on the search phrase(s) your targeting. Is it better to target Mayberry hair salon or the plural Mayberry hair salons? Google considers these completely separate search phrases, and trying to figure out which is better requires tools unavailable to most small business owners.

And then there’s this:


Did you know that small business owners have one of THE most powerful marketing tools ever developed at their disposal? It’s called re-marketing, and it’s one of the best examples of the amazing power that is simply unprecedented in today’s small business marketplace.

The concept is simple.

It’s always been known that consumers often need to see a message several times before acting on it. Wouldn’t it be great if Google could allow you to target those potential customers that visit your web site and then (assuming that they went away without becoming a customer their first visit) keep showing your ads to them as they surf around the web to all sorts of other pages that they’re interested in having nothing to do with your company or service? You can.

This capability exists today. Try looking for it as you visit web site s and then start seeing ads for those sites begin to appear all over the web.