One of the most effective types of advertising since the first-ever business has been Word of Mouth advertising. Now with the addition of social media sites, an online local business forum is not only more effective, but creates very affordable advertising.
If businesses utilize their forums correctly they can initiate and direct the conversations in a very positive way. The readers and forum participants are those that spread the word, often bringing in new clients and valuable repeat business.
By allowing site visitors to post reviews to your local business forum you're giving those customers a chance to influence others on a global scale. That's how the popularity of social media has changed the playing field: word of mouth marketing is now more than just beauty shop discussion or letters to the editor of the local newspaper.
One person who has hundreds, thousands or even millions of online followers can have a huge impact on a product or service. Think of Oprah online. Big companies have been tapping into this social media, or as they call it, social marketing, for years.
But it's also readily available for small local businesses. It's easy to include a forum on your website for customers to participate in. You might need to initiate conversation and encourage participation, but once you get the ball rolling they will do the rest.
Adding a business blog in addition to a forum is another effective idea. Blogs allow you the opportunity to share up-to-the-minute thoughts and ideas about your business. They should be linked to your website for easy customer access.
Blogs become free publicity for your business as they influence search engines when potential customers search online for products and services that you offer. As you can see, this type of "ad campaign" is an awesome and affordable way to drive traffic to your site.
You can even include videos- which can be produced fairly inexpensive- which can spread quickly online. Your businesses return on investment for this type of marketing will be incredible.
As with any type of word or mouth marketing, you do have to be aware of negative communication or misinformation being spread. A disgruntled customer or a competitor out to sabotage you can certainly cause some damage.
That is why you will need to be very aggressive in getting out as much positive and accurate messages as you can. Don't overlook the importance of timeliness and consistency. Make known your achievements and successes and add positive customer reviews and testimonials.
Most people are realistic and can see through the few sour grapes that show up, especially if there is a huge ratio disparity between the positive and negative.
Summary: A local business forum allows you to get the ideas and views of your customers and website visitors. This can be very beneficial feedback for your business. You can also utilize social media to expand on your forum and to take advantage of the free publicity that it brings.
If you found this article by Jeff Schuman on local business forums informative please visit our local business website today. Learn how you can use local business marketing to rank highly on search engines and get more traffic to your small business website.