By Tim Schlee
Hosting local events is one of the oldest marketing tactics in the book. Anyone can do it, and it’s great for building public awareness of your brick-and-mortar business, which makes it especially appealing for self-storage operations. That doesn’t mean it’s an outdated method. With modern technologies like the Internet and mobile devices, community events don’t just increase your physical presence, they can help to increase your Web presence.
By leveraging social media sites, online reviews, local listings and other SEO-friendly forces, a local event can work to expand and reinforce the Web of links and references that collectively comprise the extent of your online reach. Before we get too in-depth, however, let’s go over some potential events to host, which we’ll refer back to as examples:
- Food/toy/blood drive
- Car wash
- Garage sale
- Free storage for a cause of your choice
- Charity donations
- Grand opening/re-opening
- Customer appreciation
These are only a few examples, of course. Anything that gets your name out there and makes people think about your facility is a boon to your business. So let’s learn how to modernize these events to bring you more leads online!
You can’t host a physical event without a corresponding Facebook event, right? At least, you shouldn’t. Social media is one of the easiest ways to build a local event into something more. Plus, it will help attract guests to your event that you otherwise wouldn’t have reached.
For maximum exposure, always provide as much information as possible on your event page. The basics include:
- Business name
- Time and date
- Contact info (especially your phone number)
- Event name and description
Once you’ve covered that baseline, you can work on increasing engagement. This is especially useful—and easy—if you’re supporting a particular charity or cause. People love to feel good about themselves, so milk that with posts to the event page, images and other content to garner more likes and shares. Don’t be afraid to ask for them, either! Likes and shares are great for your event but even better for your business because they’ll still be there long after the happening is over.
To really give your event page some flair, you need to brand it. Use the name of your business in the title. Create hashtags so people can quickly and easily reference it. As you garner attention, you’ll create a lot of goodwill toward your business, which will come in handy in the next step.
A local event is the perfect opportunity to get more online reviews. It doesn’t really matter whether those are on your Facebook page, Google Maps listing or some other website. If there’s a page that exists somewhere with good, detailed reviews of your business, you’re doing better than 90 percent of your competitors.
The key to getting reviews, however, is to ask for them. You need to actively encourage your guests to leave reviews on your page. In the age of mobile, this has never been easier. One way to convince people to take the time and effort to review your business is to announce that anyone who leaves a review will win a prize or be entered into a raffle to win one. I bet you’ll see lots of people whipping phones out of their pockets. This is also a great way to increase engagement, since you’ll be encouraging people to actively participate in some way.
One last way that local events and online promotions can work in tandem is through carefully managing your event listings on a variety of relevant websites. You want people to know about your event, right? Then get it listed out there on the Web! Here are some types of websites to target:
- Local news sites
- Storage news sites
- Social media sites
- A unique event page on your own site
- Local event aggregators
Make sure you include your name, address and phone number each time your event is mentioned. Not only will this help to attract more guests, these types of listings are the bread and butter of brick-and-mortar SEO. Because you operate a facility with a fixed location, you want that location associated with your name as much as possible. Ditto for your phone number. This type of consistency tells Google that you’re a serious business, meaning it’s more likely to rank your website higher.
As an added bonus to this strategy, you’ll generate lots of links back to your own website. This is referred to as link-building, and it’s one of the most significant elements of modern SEO. Finding authoritative, trusted sites to provide links back to yours is one of the quickest way to climb the ranks of Google’s results pages, and it’s getting harder to rig the results with paid links and guest blogging. A link to your website from, say, a local news site with information about you and your event is precisely the kind of link Google wants to see. It’s also the kind of page that might rank well on its own, giving you even more display in the search-engine results page.
Hopefully, you can begin to see how a local event can be very powerful for your online exposure; and it really doesn’t even require a lot of effort. So while you’re busy planning the physical logistics of it, simply take an hour or two to dedicate to social media, generating reviews of your business and garnering links back to your website. If you know what to do and who to target, your event could be an SEO goldmine.
Tim Schlee is a Kansas City native who studied English and linguistics at Truman State University. He’s also a content writer for StorageAhead, which offers Web-marketing technology for the self-storage industry, including lead-generating search engines and facility-management software. For more information, visit www.storageahead.com.