2. The hottest action is online: Back in 2009, a typical small business with an ad budget of some kind spent less than 25% of it in the broad category known as Internet Advertising. That includes Internet yellow pages, banner or display ads on websites, pay-per-click or other online listings, web-based directories, online networks, social media, daily deals and coupon sites, mobile ads, and other digital offerings. That figure has now jumped to 40% and if the industry gurus are correct, will hit 70% in the next three years. For a small business, this trend means one thing for sure: Your competitors are spending more ad dollars to connect with consumers online, and you should too.

3. Small business owners can afford to be picky: Every local business today has a multitude of marketing options available. But it’s all too easy to get bogged down in the details of so many different choices, and waste time and money with products or services that don’t fit, or don’t work. The trend today among local businesses is to work with one major marketing partner that can do the heavy lifting for you, and get you the leads you need without the fuss or bother on your part.

That partner should provide the widest distribution possible for your ads, including print, online, mobile and other digital offerings, and – importantly – focus getting you new business leads, regardless of where they might come from. Such partners will also invest time in learning about you and your business, and how to make the most of your budget.

4. Daily Deal fatigue is setting in: Despite the growth of daily deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social and others, there’s mounting evidence that many local businesses are pulling back and assessing whether offering such deals actually contributes to longer term growth and profitability. If you offer deals on Groupon, Living Social or other daily deal websites, beware. Detailed new research shows that for scores of local merchants, a hidden side effect is an increase in bad online reviews that can damage your reputation. (That’s why it’s always a good idea to actively monitor and manage your online reputation.)

5. Local joins Social: More and more local businesses are carving out at least a small piece of their marketing budget for social media. First and foremost, that requires understanding what social media marketing is all about. A new site called ShopTalk: Social Media (www.dexsocial.com) is rich in how-to articles, ideas, resources and the basics of social media marketing specifically for local business.

6. Print remains relevant: This comes as a surprise to some people, but reports of the yellow pages’ demise are premature. In spite of all the hype over social media and mobile, print yellow pages remain a proven, reliable and cost effective lead-generator for millions of small businesses. Vastly more people still find local businesses via yellow pages than through social media (74% compared to only 32%). The trick is to integrate or sync your traditional marketing, with online and social media.

Print is still relevant and that includes newspapers as well as ”yellow pages.” According to the National Newspaper Association (NNA), of which GA Voice is a member, readers served by community newspapers prefer it as a source for both news and for advertising. A recent study conducted by NNA and the Reynolds Journalism Institute showed that 74% of the respondents read a local paper each week. 51% prefer to receive advertising messages through the newspaper.

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