We thought we would give you a bit of a break from ‘the norm’ in this instalment of the Directors blog. 3D Group have experienced great success over the last few years and we thank our customers for that entirely, but when we started out as a small company ourselves it became apparent very early on that promoting your small business with little to no marketing budget is an incredibly important but also a difficult task. If you want the customers to keep coming your way, you need to get your name and brand ‘out there’, so for this instalment of our blog I am handing the reins over to our marketing assistant Rebecca. Rebecca has helped us to promote all of 3D Group’s brands over the last couple of years including our local auto locksmith service 3D Autokeys which is currently thriving. I have tasked Rebecca with explaining her top 6 tried and tested ways to advertise your own auto locksmith service for free (or relatively low cost) so that you can increase your customer base and hopefully the number of enquiries you receive without much expenditure at all. Enjoy! – Dean
My Top 6 Ways To Promote Your Auto Locksmith Business For Free
Do you have a comfy chair and a cuppa? I’ll pre-warn you that this is quite a lengthy article, however I have written it as an overview that I hope you can dip in and out of and will refer back to as and when you have the time to implement any of these free forms of marketing. I also hope that you find my suggestions valuable and that they help to increase your businesses presence within your local service area, so it’s definitely worth a skim read.
The internet, love it or loathe it, is now instrumental to most industries and you certainly cannot escape or ignore it. The internet has so many uses and is now integrated into so much modern day technology that many people would find it hard to go a full day and not ‘connect’. There’s even washing machines with wifi and an app!
It will come as no surprise then that when it comes to promoting your auto locksmith business for ‘free’ or at a low cost, the internet is invaluable, and it features in all of my top 6 in some form or another. 84% of British households now have the internet so I’m going to take the liberty of assuming that you yourself are one of those 22 million.
- Optimise your website.
I am of course assuming that you have a website for your business. If you don’t, I would certainly look into getting one. 74% of adults now buy goods or services online and with the majority of mobile phones now being ‘smart’, having a mobile friendly website is a must. A website can be created with zero technical coding knowledge using online services such as GoDaddy.com, 1&1.co.uk or Weebly.com. Of course, if you have the coding knowledge then Drupal is a great platform to create your own website.
|Google Search Results|
Once you have an online presence for your business one of your main aims should be to appear in the Google search results and preferably on the first page as few people will look beyond that. It is worth spending some time racking your brain to come up with a list of phrases (also known as keywords) that you think your customers will search for. There’s going to be the obvious such as ‘auto locksmith in Nottingham’ but you’ll be surprised at the suggestions you will receive if you ask friends and family what they would search for if they lost their car keys. ‘new car key for Ford’ ‘Replacement Key fob’ etc.
Once you have a list of these keywords you will need to integrate them into the content of your website. Try using the most popular keywords in the titles of the relevant pages as well as the main paragraphs of text on your website, a little repetition helps but be careful to make sure that it still sounds natural and not forced.
|Example of Keyword Placement – www.3dautokeys.co.uk|
Your content should be interesting and well written and be informative to your prospective customers. Google crawls through the content of your web pages and uses its algorithms to decipher if your website is worthy of being displayed in their search results, but there is a fine line and if you over-step it with your keywords the Google gods can view that unfavourably! For more information about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) take a look at this article.
A couple of other ways to optimise your website is to make sure your customers can navigate around the website and find the information they need easily. The main aim of your website is to increase the number of enquiries that you receive so your preferred method of contact should be highlighted on every page. This should also include what is known as a ‘call to action’, a phrase that encourages customers to contact you. E.G. ‘Get a free quote now’ or ‘Call Now To Book’. A great tip is to ask family and friends to take a look at your website and to try and use it as if they were looking to use your services. This might flag up navigation issues or places where you could do with highlighting your contact details.
Optimising your website does take time and the results are not instant. It can take weeks, sometimes months to see the fruits of your labour but you will see a dramatic increase in enquiries if you can reach the Holy Grail that is the first page of the Google search results. It’s well worth doing a little optimising, as often as you can, when you have a few minutes.
- Get Listed!
There are some great online directories on the internet. The problem is, if you aren’t listed in these directories your competitors will be being promoted over and above your company. If you search Google for the phrase ‘Auto Locksmith in <enter your town here>’. 9 times out of 10 there will be a result on that first page that takes you to the online version of the Yellow Pages Yell.com.
There are several other big players in the online directory market, such as FreeIndex and Yelp. It is free to list your business on these directories and you can often include images, a link to your website and in some directories previous customers can review your services so that prospective customers can see how reliable and professional you are. When you list your company on these sites be sure to include as much information as possible, alongside the usual contact details and opening times there is often an area for you to write about your company. Use this to sell yourself, include unique selling points such as quick response times or how many years’ experience you have; anything that will make your business stand out over and above the competition.
I hate to keep harping on about Google but they are the gods of the internet and they have a little tool called ‘Google My Business’. This is Google’s business directory and claiming your listing with them should be a priority. Chances are they already have your company name on their list already, they are simply waiting for you to claim it as yours. You can use their business search to look for your company and if it isn’t there you can add it manually. It will take you through a step by step guide to add your company and you may need to go through a simple verification process to prove that you are the business owner. Once your Google Business listing is live and is linked to your website it will please the gods and will also improve your website’s Google search rankings. This is well worth taking the time to do and it is entirely free!
- Be Social
Social Media is huge at the moment. It’s difficult to find an adult that does not use some form of social media. It is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, post pictures of your dinner, find funny videos of cats etc but it is also a brilliant free tool to promote your business and increase your online presence. The list of social media websites and apps is ever growing but the major players are currently Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Each of these ‘networks’ differs in the way that they function and share information, but ultimately they can all be levied as tools to get your message in front of a huge audience for free!
The best way to utilise social media for your business is to be active, post quality content and post it frequently. This can be anything from handy hints and tips, customer testimonials, how to’s, special offers, to blatant brags about your business., but remember it is meant to be a social platform so share others posts that you think your followers might be interested in (like this one perhaps?) as this will help to build your number of followers. Respond to all comments that are posted on your content but ensure that you do it in a professional manner but remember that you aren’t just replying to the person that commented, your reply is public! Never use social media to moan about an awkward customer or to berate your competition as this is likely to escalate and cause serious damage to your public persona.
It is a well-known fact within social media users that posts with photos get a higher level of interaction so get your smart phones out and take some pictures whilst you’re out and about working. Even a picture of a brilliant view or of traffic on the M1 can be shared multiple times and get your company name in front of thousands if posted in the right way.
If you need inspiration for the popular things to post or the right hashtags to use, search for your peers within the locksmith industry and see how they utilise social media. It’s also worth taking the time to search for any local social media accounts that will be willing to re-post local businesses posts. Local ‘Spotted’ pages on Facebook or local Twitter accounts that automatically retweet tweets that hashtag the postcode are often useful. You can find these by searching the first part of your postcode with the ‘#’ symbol before it e.g. #NG1.
Downloading the app onto your smart phone can make the time it takes to post a lot quicker and more convenient. Many social media sites can now link to others and automatically duplicate a post across several networks simultaneously, saving you time. Don’t forget to cross-promote your social media channels on your website, online directory pages and business cards etc as this all helps to grow your ‘following’. It may take a little bit of time to build your following but if you get into the swing of posting frequently you can reap the rewards. 43% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product or service when learning about it on social media.
- Expand your network
|Join Your Local Business Networking Event|
Are you involved with your local business community at all? Most towns and cities will have several business associations that meet regularly and discuss the local issues that impact on local businesses. Often regular local networking events are organised where you can attend, have a coffee and meet other like-minded local business owners.
I’m not simply suggesting these gatherings to make new friends, although this can be a welcome bi-product. If you think about it, there are very few businesses out there that don’t own at least one vehicle, whether it be for business purposes or simply the owners’ personal car. At the other end of the scale there are several types of businesses that own a fleet of vehicles; local van hire, rent a car, car dealerships, delivery companies, taxi firms etc. These are all local businesses that could pass regular work your way, and potentially a lot of it. As a business owner yourself, who are you more likely to contact? A faceless service that you have found in the Yellow Pages or that lovely professional chap that you had a coffee and a chat with at the recent networking event? Exactly! For the sake of an hour of your time and the price of a coffee you can network with all of these potential customers and hand out a business card or two!
Now here’s where the internet comes in to it, search for your local networking events online, you’ll be surprised how many there are. Findnetworkingevents.com is a great place to start.
- Shout about it
Do you often have a read through the local paper and see those articles about the local business that has just opened a new office, or the local company that has just won an award? Do you wish you could be featured too? Think of the huge audience your company name will be put in front of! How do the journalists hear of these local companies’ triumphs? Because those local companies tell them about it!
When you have something to shout about, albeit a nomination for a local business award or a new apprentice/ employee, write a press release about it! The phrase ‘press release’ can sound a little daunting but actually writing one is pretty simple. There are several free templates that you can download from the internet to make it easier for yourself. Make sure you attach a relevant photo that you would be happy for the paper to print and send that press release off to as many local papers as you can. The press office contact details can usually be found on the papers website easily.
You might not think your story is particularly news worthy, but if the paper is short on content for that week, or if there is a bigger news story that is relevant to your business featured, they might just print your story or even contact you for your opinion and then you get free advertising. Just imagine, if the paper is about to print a story about a spate of car key thefts in your area and an already written article from an auto locksmith company lands on the desk surely that would make great column inches?
- Word of Mouth
As I’m sure you are already aware, there are many vehicle owners out there that have no idea how to go about getting a replacement car key for one that has been lost or stolen. Where do these people go to for advice? The internet possibly, they’ll search in Google, but if you’ve followed my #1 suggestion you should already have that covered. They are also likely to ask their friends, work colleagues and family for recommendations!
There is no better recommendation than one a person receives from someone that they trust. So what can you do to make sure that yours is the company on the tip of their tongue? The answer is simple, ensure that every job you complete is done in the most professional way possible with excellent customer service. For example, keep the customer in mind all the time, a courtesy call when you are 5 minutes away from them costs you very little but it could make a huge impression on the customer. That call says to them that you are organised, that they are important to you, and that you care. Arriving looking smart and in a clean, well-kept van makes an excellent first impression and reassures the customer that you are going to do a quality job and take care of their vehicle. It will be the customers that receive this level of excellent service from you that will shout about it. Studies show that a happy customer will tell 2-3 people about their wonderful service, but on the flip side an unhappy customer will tell on average 8-10 people about their negative experience and with 92% of people trusting recommendations from friends and family over any other type of marketing you can see how this can affect your business.
So there it is, my top 6 FREE ways to market your auto locksmith business. I hope that this has given you a few ideas. This article was written to offer suggestions and I really have only scratched the surface of all the ways you can promote your business for free, there is a plethora or articles on the internet that can help you with this and I would advocate taking the time to read around each of the methods I have mentioned and implement as much as is possible in any spare time that you have. It might be a slow build but you will begin to see the rewards in the future if you invest the time.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post, if you know of anyone who might find it useful please feel free to share it and if you’ve tried any of the suggestions and they’ve worked for your business I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.