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Digital Advantage: Just get started

Jan. 8, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 7, 2014 at 7:08 p.m.

Over the past few weeks, we've discussed budgeting for digital marketing, why mobile consumers matter to your local business and specific advertising opportunities like targeted digital display advertising.

But, as I talk to local business owners, I find that - like anything perceived as difficult - just getting started is the hardest part. It's like that diet or workout plan that you're "going to start tomorrow" or maybe Monday - no, Tuesday, etc.

Before you know it, March rolls around, and you're still not on plan. Then summer comes, and that's no time to start anything. With vacations and graduations to worry about, there's just no time. So the year slips away.

Don't let 2014 slip away when it comes to digital marketing.

Follow these steps to get started:

1. Evaluate your web presence. This means your website, social network profiles and business directory listings. Is this basic information accurate? Business hours, addresses, website links, specials, etc. With this region growing so fast, there are literally thousands of people new to the region. The Internet is generally the No. 1 source for information when relocating.

2. Repeat step one on a mobile device. This can be eye-opening. If you consider that about 30 percent of search traffic on Google, Yahoo and Bing is mobile and that 50 percent of that traffic has local intent - meaning that local people are searching for local businesses, products and services - it's incumbent on the local business owner to be ready for mobile.

3. Evaluate your competition from the viewpoint of a consumer online. If you are competing with national companies or large, regional players, it may seem daunting to take that fight online. However, you have advantages over big box stores. You likely highlight those advantages to your customer base every day in your store or in your marketing message. Get that message out through digital means on social networks and targeted digital advertising vehicles.

4. Educate yourself. Find local digital marketing experts and ask them tough questions, especially if they're asking you to spend money on them. There are no dumb questions in the realm of digital advertising, and you should only spend money on products that you understand. Ask questions until you have a working understanding of what you are buying.

This is only a starting point, but getting started is the hardest part. Make 2014 the year that you take digital marketing seriously.

Jason Holmes is the general manager of Advocate Digital Media, a sister company to The Victoria Advocate that focuses on digital marketing. He welcomes questions and column ideas at.



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