We boil it down, especially for tourism and Main Street / downtown partners…
What do you absolutely HAVE to do to avoid being invisible online?
What can you absolutely NOT ignore, or blow off because you’re “too busy?”
We call it The 2 Things.
If you are a CVB, DMO, Chamber, Main Street or downtown, merchants association, or other organization that has partners who are still not digitally-savvy enough to survive much longer, send this link to them.
We can do a lot to teach a destination, attraction, small business, or lodging property how to succeed online and on social media, but folks have to take care of some digital basics.
What Are The 2 Things?
We know the digital marketing landscape can be overwhelming. We know everyone’s juggling a million tasks and responsibilities.
So, we asked ourselves what would be most helpful for the least amount of effort.
Here it is:
1) Claim and verify your listing on Google My Business.
Why — This will do more than anything else to help your online visibility and local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) when people search, for example, for “antique shop in XYZ town.”
It also literally puts you on Google Maps. When someone Googles “coffee shop near me open now” on their phone, the results include data pulled from your Google My Business listing, like location and hours of operation.
You either provide correct information for Google to find, or people go somewhere else.
Yes, it is free.
How — Fill out your brand listing as completely as possible – including adding photos – and make sure that your name, physical address, and phone number are accurate and consistent across all online profiles. Respond to any reviews, positive or negative.
2) Have a rocking Facebook Page.
Why — You need to be where your visitors, guests, and customers are online. We can almost guarantee that they are one of the over one billion people worldwide on Facebook, so if you have to pick ONE social media channel to be active and engaging, Facebook is the one.
Your Facebook Page URL will come up when people search for your brand/business name, too, so it helps your search engine visibility.
Caution: digital communications change. AOL and Yahoo and MySpace used to be a big deal, too. Don’t think that Facebook won’t be eclipsed by something else in the future. Pay attention to trends about where your customers spend time online.
How — Fill out your Page information as completely as possible, decide what sort of Facebook posts will support your overall business or organization strategy, and post at LEAST 3-5 times a week. (Pages that post every few months and still have their Christmas header photo up in April are not doing their owners any good.) Respond to people’s questions on Facebook Messenger, too. Occasionally run Sponsored posts (ads) to make sure your story is heard by the right audiences.
Here is our 90 second video about The 2 Things:
A few other basic online marketing moves that many tourism and Main Street partners tend to neglect:
Where’s Your Website?
Where’s Your Email List?
The 2 Things are very important, but we don’t want you to miss the fact that they each have a fatal flaw – Google My Business listings and Facebook Pages are owned by someone else, not you.
They are extraordinarily powerful tools, and they are critical for your online marketing (or else we wouldn’t have chosen them as The 2 Things!) but if you don’t also own your own website and aren’t building an email list, you’re leaving all of your online presence in someone else’s control.
Included in this post of small business marketing statistics…
“Surprisingly, nearly one-third of small businesses (29%) plan to begin using a website for the first time in 2020. All businesses should have a website.”
We always recommend contacting your local Chamber of Commerce to find out who builds simple websites in your area. You don’t need some massive multi-page beast; even a simple scrolling one-pager with key information means that you now control your own web “real estate.”
An email list is another tool that is yours, not Google’s and not Facebook’s. No algorithm can prevent you from reaching your subscribers whenever you want.
Build that list the right way; always get people’s permission to be added to your list (called “opting in”) and use a professional email service provider like Mailchimp, which recently began offering a website-building service as well.
In summary, The 2 Things – Google My Business listing and an active, engaging Facebook Page – plus a website and email list are the basic online marketing foundation for even the smallest business, attraction, or lodging property.
We assure you that since, sadly, so many people ignore one or all of them, if you can give each one a decent amount of effort, you will be way ahead of your competitors.
Do you have tourism or Main Street partners who are doing a great job with the basics of online marketing? Tell us a little bit about them down in the comments. We’re always looking for good examples to feature in our workshops, webinars, online course, and blog posts.
Go get ’em.
Our whole focus is teaching you and/or your partners how to use digital destination marketing to bring more visitors to your town (when the time is right for that.)
If you want to bounce some ideas around about working with us, ping us through our Contact page.
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