Take your local business online and double your profits with Solo Build It

"What would you do if the very survival
of your local Business was threatened
by a major competitor?"

This article will show you how to do local business marketing online and
use Internet marketing and email marketing to promote your Business
to both local and Global customers.

By Rocky Tapscott

It may never happen to you, but your local Business could one day be in dire need of rescue when a major competitor moves into your area. What would you do?

This hypothetical story looks at how a group of local Business owners took on their much larger opposition and thrived.

As you read this story, think to yourself, how can I use this? How can I market my local Business online and use internet and email marketing myself to increase my sales?

There is a way you can copy what these Business owners did to increase the number of customers you have and also your profits.

And now, on with the story...

John runs a Nursery in a small town with very little competition. In fact, when he bought the Business, it was one of only two in the area. There were a couple of small stores that sold a few of his products, but he could handle the competition. Sales and profits were good and he was making a good living selling to the local community.

People came to know and trust him and his product recommendations. He set up joint venture agreements with other local suppliers - for example, he referred his customers to Jack's Car Parts by giving them a 20% discount coupon on new parts, Logan's Drycleaners for special 2 for 1 deals with a discount voucher he supplied and Happy Sun Chinese Restaurant who offered free Lunch time dishes and special promotions.

These Businesses returned the favour by giving their customers vouchers for free and discounted products and services at John's Nursery.

All of these local Businesses co-operated and sent their customers to each other to keep them buying in the local area.

And they all offered these customers vouchers and coupons that gave discounts in each others stores when they shopped with them.

Then came one of those big multi-national chain stores. They sold every product imaginable, in every price category you can think of - they even had a restaurant!

The local business owners were desperate!

They knew they couldn't compete on price, and besides, why would they? Price wars are not the way intelligent Business people survive and prosper. No, they had to get smart...they're financial lives were on the line here.

How were they going to keep their existing customers loyal and stay in Business in the face of this new threat?

John had an idea..."Let's use the Internet to leverage our Businesses across the world, as well as build better relationships with our local customers."

They knew they wouldn't be able to keep all of their existing clients - many people are purely price shoppers, and would naturally go to the new multi-national store. But they knew that if they could offer something of value to people, something the big chain store couldn't, many would continue to shop in their stores.

But where do we start? None of them knew the first thing about the Internet, web design or anything related to online marketing. A couple had never searched the web for anything and didn't even have an email address...

John had probably the most to lose - the Nursery section of the new store was HUGE. He volunteered to research different ways of building a web presence and report back to the group.

Four weeks later, they all met a John's house over coffee to discuss what he had learnt about the Internet and using it to help market their products and services.

John had indeed done many hours of research, and after weighing up all the information he had found, he recommended a package called Solo Build It! They could all then simply build a site of their own.

They all looked at him and wondered if the threat of this new competitor had rattled his brain. They knew that he didn't even use email yet - how was he going to get online and build a website?

He assured them that he would indeed be able to pull it off.

He had read the Manual that came as a download with the package called the SBI Action Guide and was confident he had what it would take to build and manage website that would bring targeted customers to his business, as well as retain a large percentage of his existing clientele and increase their loyalty even more.

John simply followed the step by step plan in the Action Guide

He explained that the Manual was like a Guru guiding you in the right direction. He had sat down and read it all the way through once, as it advised him to do, so he could see the 'Big Picture'.

Then he had gone back to the start and followed the 10 day action step process - and he had an announcement - he had already built a website!

His fellow Business owners were amazed. Already? John had followed the Manual's advice and built a theme based content site in less than four weeks and just working on it a couple of hours a day. "What's a theme based content site?" I hear you ask.

A theme based content site is a website that is constructed around a theme or single idea or concept - whatever it is that you want to talk about with your audience.

By building around a theme, your website will rank highly with the search engines - and search engines are how 80% of the online population find anything they are looking for on the internet.

Many websites consist of lots of graphics and whiz-bang technology...but search engines aren't looking for that, and neither are your visitors. They are looking for information; information they can use to solve a problem they have RIGHT NOW.

John had simply followed the instructions in the manual and built a simple 10 page site showcasing his knowledge and how visitors could use some of his products.

He didn't try to sell anything. He just wrote articles giving great free information about gardening and landscaping, with a phone number to call him, an email address for readers questions, and a few links to other websites where people could buy products and services from his partners.

"So, let's have a look at it then", they all asked.

John opened up his web browser and typed in the address of his website. It loaded quickly, even on his dial-up connection, and his visitors were impressed with what they saw.

John had build a professional looking site that anyone could be proud of.

But it wasn't just ads. He had written several articles that used practical examples to show how other people had used his products in applications around their homes. He wrote stories about local customers trying out his services and then telling their friends about their experiences.

He did impartial product reviews and recommended the best ones to his visitors, while pointing out their limitations.

He was ADDING VALUE to people lives by showing them how to solve their problems quickly.

The other Business owners were impressed.

It looked nothing like they had imagined...no spinning graphics or Banner Ads flashing and blinking obtrusively.

Just good, solid content - content designed to impart John's knowledge onto his visitors and show them that he was indeed the local expert. Content that would also rank highly with the search engines and attract targeted visitors to his website.

He offered tips on the best time to plant various types of trees and other plants, advice on mulching and pruning, garden ornaments and features, waterfalls and statues.

He had coupons for discounts available only to website visitors, and he had a page where visitors could subscribe to his fortnightly Newsletter - The Green Thumb. Here they would receive additional discount offers and gardening and landscaping tips from John on a regular basis.

And he also had written short articles about each

of the other Businesses in their little group

His visitors were excited! So was John.

He had already received his first order - a book he sold for $50 from a gentleman in Sydney - in another state...

This web visitor had found John's site through a Google search on a topic that was one of John's keywords - cactus propagation (the 'brainstorming' function in the Solo Build It! Manager found that this was a high profitability keyword - lots of search engine enquires for it but not too many sites that mentioned the term) - and purchased the book over the Internet using his credit card for payment, after reading one of John's informative articles.

Wow! they thought when John told them about this, Internet marketing works! They all decided to give it a go.

John helped each one of his colleagues build a theme based content site around their Business, although they didn't need a lot of assistance. The manual showed them how to use the Brainstorm function to find the highest profitability keywords for their individual niches.

It showed them how to create web pages and write editorial copy that pre-sold visitors on why they should call them instead of the opposition.

It told them to use local place names in their keywords and body copy so that when someone searched for gardening+supplies+cleveland the results would include their website (if your Business sells gardening supplies in Cleveland, of course).

It showed them how to create web pages that rank highly with the search engines because of the way the are built and optimized.

Their websites all started to funnel targeted visitors to their Businesses and they were able to fight off the attack from their much larger competitor.

The SBI! program automatically submitted their pages to the search engines as they built them in a manner that complied with the engine's rules, so they weren't banned from submission. And re-submitted them if they were dropped from the listings.

All the Business people offered free or discounted products or services to their website visitors that weren't available to offline customers, and did online joint ventures with each other, just like they did offline.

They promoted their websites online and offline and started to build their own email lists of dedicated subscribers, who received articles and offers every couple of weeks in a Newsletter format.

Their customers responded by staying loyal and continuing to shop with them for years to come...

Now, how could you apply this to your Business? Could you use the Internet in the same way to build relationships with your customers so that if a new competitor comes into your area they will remember you and continue to give you their Business?

Having a website and using email marketing is a very powerful and inexpensive way to stay in contact with your customers.

This ability to have continuous contact with customers forever, for free, is what makes the Internet so powerful. The cost of direct mail has become prohibitive and the Yellow Pages are so full of competition, it's very hard to get yourself noticed.

But building an email list of people who are interested in your area of expertise is one of the most highly leveraged, lowest cost ways of staying in contact with your customers that allows you to build a lasting relationship with them and sell your products or services to them over and over again.

Marketing genius Jay Abraham has said, "The goal of all Businesses should be to find more customers, to persuade those customers to buy more initially, and to encourage those customers buy more frequently."

Most Businesses only try the first part of this three part strategy, and they don't do that very well, because they aren't any good at marketing - then they forget about the second two methods of building Business - and all the profits for a Business are in these second two areas, the back-end sales.

The number one cause for Business failure is often quoted as 'Inadequate Capitalisation'. Robert Allen, famous Author of Books such as Multiple Streams of Income and Nothing Down, says that this is absolutely false.

He believes that the major reason most Businesses fail is because they poured all their money into marketing that didn't work. And they continued to do that until they went broke or simply gave up trying because it was all too hard...

You simply must start to get the names and email addresses of every customer or prospect who comes into your store or calls you on the phone, and then get their permission to put them on your email database.

Then you can keep in touch with them for as long as they stay on your list, which could be years!

The easiest way for you to do this is to direct people to your website with a free offer and get them to give you their email address right there and then in exchange for your freebee.

This avoids errors that can occur when manually placing email addresses into a database, and the address has to be correct for your visitors to receive their free gift.

If you can't do this for some reason, then have your staff collect customer names and email addresses at the point of sale by offering a free gift or reward.

Building a website that pre-sells your visitors and customers on the benefits of dealing with you rather than your competitors effectively has the potential to supercharge your profits quicker than any other form of marketing.


It gives you Leverage!

Once you have your own list of email addresses and are providing regular, quality information through your Newsletter, you can send out a regular email to this entire list with a time limited special offer, and guarantee that many of your subscribes will act immediately, either by coming into your store or calling you for an appointment.

And your cost to send this email? Nothing - maybe a few minutes to write the message. And you can offer a discount for prompt response because you have no marketing costs!

How's that for leverage?

Even if it doesn't attract any customers - the offer was FREE to send out! Even if it fails, it cost you nothing to try! Try that with an off-line marketing campaign. Failure off-line can cost thousands of dollars...

Compare sending an email message to your list with running an ad in the local Newspaper or the Yellow Pages. You incur an immediate expense without knowing if you will get any response. And any orders can take weeks or months to come in.

If your marketing message isn't all that interesting to the local community, no-one will come in to your store or call you. You broadcast your message to thousands of people who couldn't care less about your offer. You pay up-front for this wasted effort.

But by sending an email note with a limited time offer to your targeted list of subscribers who know and trust you, many of them will respond, some of them immediately. And it costs you...nothing!

As Robert Allen says, on the Internet, "You can fail fast for Free."

What he means of course is that you get an almost instant response to your marketing message, and if no-one responds, it hasn't cost you anything except a few minutes of your time.

If your email Newsletter mixes good quality information with marketing messages, you will be able to build a high quality list of customers and prospects that you can communicate with again and again for years and a percentage of these customers will buy from you every time you contact them.

It's always a different 1% - 5% who respond, depending on the offer, but some of them will buy whatever it is you offer them each time you send them an email.

You can send out surveys asking your customers what they want to buy, then sell it to them. How easy it that?

This should be the goal of every Business - to build an ongoing relationship with your customers, ask them what they want, then offer it to them in a way that doesn't look like you are selling them anything - you are merely providing a solution to a problem that they already have.

Your Newsletter provides valuable information, then recommendations on what customers should buy to achieve the results they want.

And of course, they will buy from you - the acknowledged expert that helps them make informed decisions about whatever it is that you sell.

When they think about whatever your product or service is, they think of you - because you have taken the time to develop a relationship with them.

The big multinational is all about making a profit and faceless staff just doing a job - but you, your the local guy who gives a damn and helps out when they have a problem. Some folks will still shop at the big store, but they will also come to you if you give them a reason...