Picture yourself, a small business owner in a brand new shop. You’ve just opened your doors and await your first customers. Maybe you put an ad in the local newspaper, maybe you contacted your Chamber of Commerce, maybe you put balloons or a banner over your door so people driving by would see you.
Those things may get you attention for a very limited period of time – maybe the few seconds it takes to drive by your building – but without heavily marketing yourself and letting people know you exist, your door will stay shut until someone decides to explore and see what you’re shop is about.
Rather than leaving this all to chance, jump onto Google Plus and start interacting with people. It’s a great idea to start even before you open your doors. Introduce yourself, get people excited about your services or products, then have a big ribbon cutting or unveiling, all being promoted and stirring up buzz on Google Plus.
Creating a Google Plus profile can takes less than 5 minutes…possibly even less if you already have an account with one of Google’s other products, such as Gmail or YouTube. Create a personal profile first then you have the option of creating a business profile.
Fill out every inch of that business profile very carefully because Google Plus Local integrates with Google Maps. If you already had a listing with Google Places, that has been taken over by Google Plus so all your business information should still be intact.
Upload photos for your profile. It can be your company logo, headshot, or photos of your merchandise. They should look clear and professional and should highlight exactly what your business does. If you own a bed and breakfast, show photos of your guest rooms. If you own a restaurant, include photos of your most popular entrée and the dining room. You get the idea.
Even if your business location is still under construction, start posting to your profile page about who you are, where you’re located and when you plan to open. Keep posting regularly, even sharing construction photos if appropriate and start to create a buzz. People using Google Plus Local search will likely find your listing, read your posts and have the option of adding you to their circles. If they like what you have to offer and start to feel excited, the hope is they will in turn tell their friends and you will get more followers.
When your grand opening date arrives, announce it on Google Plus Local to get all of your followers to visit. Offer a special gift or treat for those who mention Google Plus or offer a raffle and announce the winner on your Google Plus profile page.
Whether they follow you on their computers or mobile phones, the key is to interact with your customers even when they are not in your physical location. Offer them helpful tips and post lots of pictures on Google Plus to keep the interest in your business alive.
By Susan Walsh
How to Claim Your Google Plus Local Business Listing
Note that the information below may have changed in some parts.