In 2002 Aaron and I started a mobile retail tool business. The concept was very simple we would import inexpensive tools from Los Angels and sell them in small town Ontario. The business plan called for us to rent a hall, send out a double sided flyer to the full distribution of the local paper, set up our tools to sell in the hall and collect the money.

It didn’t take long for our little $5,000 investment to morph into a multi million dollar business with offices in three provinces. While the idea was unique and our prices were low, our 2 day high velocity retail business benefited from the fact that sending out flyers in the local paper really drew attention.

We were lucky to have stumbled upon this business in late 2001 and we enjoyed 5 years of spectacular growth based on a very simple flyer. We would send it out a week before a blow out sale and hundreds if not 1000’s of people would show up. Over the years we noticed that this method of advertising became less effective.

Drawing 100’s if not 1000’s of people to a sale today would not be as simple as sending out a run of flyers. Newspapers today have become less relevant as more eye balls are turning to the net to find their news. Consequently fewer consumers are seeing the advertising that companies are placing in local papers.

This is a great opportunity for local businesses to realize the changing environment and take the appropriate steps to follow the local eyeballs on line.

It doesn’t matter if you are a dry cleaner, lawyer, plumber, electrician, or seller of gently used baby clothes. 77% of Canadians are online and using the internet and its important that your business has a presence.

How easy is it for your local customers to find you on the internet? Google knows the answer. Are you a plumber in Belleville Ontario? Do a google search for “plumber Belleville Ontario”, does your company name or website show up on the first page? Google, Yahoo, and Bing are quickly becoming the new yellowpages, as people have become more adept at ignoring interruption marketing.

There are plenty of strategies that a small business can use to generate local business from the web. Now is the time to acknowledged the drop in return on your traditional advertising and embrace the new rules of marketing.

Stuart Trier is with Delivering Customers, a digital marketing agency that builds online campaigns for companies throughout Ontario, Canada.

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