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How to Get Started in Local Advertising

November 2nd, 2009

local-advertising-strategies.jpgLocal advertising is a recent term to describe an ongoing localization of online marketing. When the first affiliate networks and online marketers appeared, they were targeting users by whole regions and countries. Later, as more precise targeting technologies were developed, they started marketing by states, provinces, and other smaller areas which could contain tens of settlements.

Nowadays we can focus our online marketing efforts on a single city or even a part of it, and there are sufficient Internet users for this to be profitable. Another reason to do this is the increasing competition on a regional/global scale. This is what local advertising is all about.

Because it is new to the marketing world, this type of advertising has little competition and advertisers online. Most of the companies that sell locally (like car dealerships, construction companies, and other services) haven’t tried to market online and don’t even have a website. This is because they think if they are local, they don’t need it. And they are very wrong. Every single company who started advertising and providing their services online has seen a substantial increase in profit. Online banners and ads are much cheaper than physical ones and they can make themselves known in a whole city rather than a part of it using only a fraction of the advertising budget.

Yet most of the businesses don’t do it. Online marketers and entrepreneurs are starting to see a great opportunity in this and are striking profitable advertising contracts with those companies. You can be one of them!

To make it short, all you have to do is find a moderately populated city or town with a good Internet connection network (which will mean most of the people have access and are using it) and a few local companies (not branches of a big corporation) that do not have an online presence (maybe they have an old website with their phone and address on it, but are not actively advertising their products and services on the Web), and contact them saying you can get them a lot of leads using the Internet (after you researched the matter and know that quite a few people in the city are interested in what they offer).

Most of those companies will be interested (they’d have to be either fools or very rich to turn you down) and will want to know more. This is where you tell them how everything works, how you’ll get the leads, and how they’ll pay you (I’m assuming a pay per lead model, where they pay you per every name, call, email or address they get). After you strike a deal, you can get busy creating ads and banners for Google AdWords, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and other networks (depending on what you promote).

This is relatively easy to do, but you’ll still have to work and research a lot. The potential profit is worth it though: being the only advertising for a local car dealership and delivering 50 calls from interested persons per day for $40 each (quite easy to do in a medium-sized city, especially if some of the residents are rich :-), you can earn $2000 a day just for knowing how to create good ads.

Why pay per call and not per sale? Because I think you don’t want to depend too much on the company to make a sale. You get the client interested enough to call them and it is their job to sell, so if they’re bad at it, you won’t see a lot of money.

Now that I’ve introduced you to local advertising (I hope you understood the basics), let me give you an example, which you can use to get started.

Let’s say you found a car dealer in a city with 500,000 people that has an overstock of a particular model (let’s say it’s called Autovolk) which they bought for dirt cheap from other dealers, but it isn’t very popular in this part of the country and doesn’t sell well, so they decided not to waste a lot of money trying to advertise it and just let them stay there, hoping someone would buy them.

You research the model and see that quite a few people like it in that city (on Facebook, MySpace, Google, etc.) and you’re sure that they could make excellent leads for this company. Based on this information, you contact them and say that you can help them sell those cars by providing phone leads, and they’ll have to take care of the actual sale. They accept your offer, paying you $35 for every phone call + $100 for every car sold to your leads.

You start advertising. First you buy a domain, for example, 09Autovolk.com, which would look like an official landing page made by the manufacturer. Then you setup a site on that domain with 20-30 articles about that car and cars in general. You also create the Contact, About and Privacy pages with all the required information and insert links to the landing page everywhere you mention the dealership, after which you buy a few hundred links from Developer Hut or any other similar service.

Your landing page should contain a few of the car’s selling points (colors, good gas mileage, 7-channel audio, crocodile leather interior :-), etc.), a few photos and a big, half-the-page call to action saying that almost all cars are sold, only 5 left, 20% discount, etc. and the number, which you got from Google Voice (see why below).

After you’ve done all of the above, you’re ready to start the actual advertising campaign. Now, you can try advertising on Facebook, MySpace, Bing and other networks, but I’ll explain everything on AdWords, as it is the biggest search engine with the most users.

So, you create a campaign on AdWords, create the ads (which may contain a benefit, a feature of the car, and maybe the number; you will need to test this yourself) and target the keywords, which should be “Autovolk2009”, “Buy Autovolk new model”, “Autovolk new 2009”, and other similar ones. You’re selling new cars, so you’ll be better off adding keywords like “parts”, “repair”, “service”, “used”, and “free” to the negative list, as they will only increase your expenses.

You target only the city where the dealership is located (and maybe the neighboring cities if they’re close or if the dealer will ship them there). Now you just start the campaign, watch and tweak it daily and enjoy the results.

To track the number of calls the dealership received, you can and should use Google Voice. Register, get a number (which you’ll put on the landing page) and forward it to the dealership’s number (don’t forget to disable the delay before forwarding and the call screening to achieve a seamless transition). Now every time someone calls from your site, you will have a log entry in your call history. This isn’t a perfect technique, but it is good enough for basic analytics.

As for the results: let’s say you get 550 people to call, and 40 of them buy a car in the first month. If a car costs about $20,000, the dealership just made a nice $800,000 selling cars which would otherwise probably never be sold, and they give you your deserved $23,250. If you spent about $5000 on advertising, you are left with $18,250 profit. Not bad, huh? And there are more cars left in stock, which means you can make even more the following month(s).

I hope you see how powerful local advertising can be. A key component here is your creativity in finding and matching the best sellers with the best buyers and getting the most profit out of it. The rest is practice, testing, and work.

This article on local advertising strategies was provided by Alex Wells as part of a series on Internet Marketing that has turned out to be a better experience than the usual DigitalPoint fare.

One Response to “How to Get Started in Local Advertising”

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