One of the hardest things you can do is to start your own business. You must truly become a jack of all trades — financially competency, passion for paperwork, providing a quality product/service, and last but certainly not least: making yourself known. In a sea of brands, getting yours to stand out from the rest can be quite the mountain to climb. But before you climb a mountain, you’ve got to start with hills; and that first hill’s name is hyperlocal marketing.
Getting your name well-known in your community is the first step to drumming up quality business and establishing a good reputation. One of the easiest, free tools to get you started is creating/verifying a Google My Business.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool for business owners to take control of their presence on the Google search platform.
Have you ever Googled a service and seen a company’s profile show up on the sidebar? That’s their Google My Business (GMB) profile.
It allows you to keep your company’s information up-to-date from your address, phone number, website, hours, photos, and more. Not only does this help people become familiar with your business, it helps your discoverability on search engines.
Interested in learning more about digital marketing of your print shop or photography business? Read, “SEO For Photographers & Printers: How to Outrank Competitors on Search Engines.”
How to Create/Claim and Verify Your Google My Business Profile
Step 1: Create a business Gmail account.
Step 2: Go to business.google.com and sign in with your business Gmail account. First, it will prompt you to find your business. Sometimes it will already be on the platform for informational purposes, albeit unverified and unclaimed, and often with inaccurate info. But if your business doesn’t exist there already, it’s time to add it.
Step 3: Fill in the prompts with the correct business information: business name, location, delivery areas, etc.
Step 4: Select a verification method. Frankly, Google doesn’t trust that you are you, so they require some proof through:
- Postcard/snail mail. To verify that your business is indeed at the provided address, they will send a postcard with a verification code to it within 5 business days. Simply log in to your online profile, click verify, ensure all the information is correct, then click “mail”. Upon receiving the postcard, log into your profile, enter the verification code provided and voila! You’re in.
- Phone call. If you are given this option, you’ll be able to verify your profile on the spot by clicking “verify by phone” and entering the verification code that is texted to you.
- Email. This is very limited, but if you’re lucky enough to have this option, they will send your provided email address with instructions on how to verify.
How to Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
And now to the most important step of setting up your profile. It’s your opportunity to tell the public what your business is and what sets you apart from the competition. If you optimize properly, it’ll help boost your visibility within Google search results as well.
Optimizing your profile is all about providing users with the best and easiest experience possible, and part of that is giving all pertinent info up front. To begin, log into your now-verified GMB profile and click on the “Info” tab. Ensure all the basics are filled out correctly: address, business name, business phone number, etc.
Next, you’re going to provide as much detailed info as possible including your business hours, the areas that you service, and website URL. Be sure to include all of your services and highlights — these will help customers know more detailed qualities that you offer (eg. you’re handicapped accessible, you have public WiFi, you offer patio seating, etc.).
Your primary business category selection is one of the most important parts of your profile. This is one of the ways your brand can shine through: when users search “printers near me” or “photographers near me” on Google, for example, the search engine sees those profession-based inquiries and brings up the search results based on matching local business categories.
Most categories are pretty self-explanatory, but be sure to check out some competitors to see what their primary listing is. Google has thousands of options and if there’s a more industry-specific one that gets more search volume, be sure to utilize it.
“Nearly 60% of consumers say that local search results with good images capture their attention and push them toward a decision.” -BrightLocal
This is your time to shine and take a hyperlocal focus on reaching nearby customers. As a printer or photographer, you should have no problem finding plenty of images to show off your brand, your workspace, your work and even yourself! Posting photos not only helps your Google My Business profile get views, it also improves general trustworthiness and provides opportunity to make a good first impression. What’s the first image you want people to see when they see your profile in search results? You can choose it. Here are some guidelines for the types of photos customers find most helpful:
- A handful of exterior building shots. After all, if you’re running a brick-and-mortar store, people will want to know what to look out for if they decide to stop by.
- Some interior shots that show off your public-facing shop/workspace.
- At least 1 image of each product you have to offer.
- Happy staff shots (with their permission). This will show your business as a happy work environment and adds a personable element to your profile.
Keep in mind images include real people are generally viewed more favorably. Just be sure not to use stock images! Google will remove them.
On top of this, customers are also able to upload photos to your profile. Business photos are always necessary, but generally speaking, a consumer-uploaded photo will garner more scrutiny, since it shows what the average customer can expect from you.
This is a brand-new feature that’s currently being rolled out by Google. When you download the GMB app for iOS or Android, you will be able to field inquiries directly from customers as if receiving a text message. This is all managed within the app, so don’t worry — you won’t be getting constant push notifications from it. Think of it as a digital info kiosk in front of your online business.
This feature isn’t available for all businesses, but if you are able and willing to utilize it, simply install the app on your phone, open it and click Customers > Messages > Turn on. This will add a call to action on your public-facing GMB profile that allows any potential customer to ask you a detailed question. For example, if a customer is looking to get a quick quote on a project or ask a specific detail about your work process, they may send you details about their commission. You can then answer them promptly and professionally.
Want to tell the world a seasonal promo you’re putting on? Or maybe you want to show off new product offerings or just general product advertising/happenings at your company? Well, Google Posts is here to help. This new feature essentially acts as a content platform for your GMB profile — post text up to 1,500 characters and accompany it with a photo. Google Posts will appear on your GMB profile within search results, although keep in mind that they do get removed over time — generally each gets about a week of quality exposure.
To write your first Google Post, simply log into GMB, click on the location that you manage, navigate to “Posts” in the left sidebar and click create! Easy peasy.
Your Google My Business profile is key in breaking into any local market. Hyperlocal marketing for printers and photographers is no easy task, but you can start by being proactive in providing new customers with as much data as possible about your products or services.
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.