If you build it they will come…well maybe.
Anytime you build a local website or vertical, the reasonable expectation is you will attract visitors. And you will. But will you attract the volume of visitors that will make your website or vertical successful? That’s the hard part.
When I was working to launch my local automotive vertical, cars920.com, here in Wisconsin, I went out to several of my key dealers to get their feedback. All the feedback I received was positive. One particular dealer’s question sticks with me today and still rings true.“It takes a lot of marketing muscle to pull something like this off, what are you going to do to promote it,” he asked. I took that question to heart and used every bit of “marketing muscle” I could muster to promote cars920.com and we have been very successful driving traffic and getting results for our dealers for over three years.
I have since launched local auto verticals across the country using the AutoConX platform. Regardless of where I am, I get the same question from most dealers. Usually the first question out of their mouth is “what are you going to do to promote this?” or “How do people find this local search site?”
When I am working with a publisher setting up an AutoConX on-site sales solution, one of the first things I focus on is an advertising and marketing plan. Some publishers think they can just launch their vertical and advertise it in their papers and the traffic and results will come. My recommendation is that they “pull out all the stops,” and use every marketing and advertising option they have at their disposal. Of course your publications and your publication’s websites are the first (and the most inexpensive) tools at your disposal. But dealers also want to hear about elements of your marketing plan outside your publications.
I try to use a few of these options in every market I work. Billboards, radio, Google ad words, 3rd party SEO, cable TV, and broadcast TV. A publisher can usually trade for radio advertising. Billboards are becoming very reasonable. A few hundred dollars in ad words goes a long way…you get the idea.
There are grassroots types of marketing also like business cards with your URL placed at high traffic businesses such as convenience stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.
Using display banners outside your office and any other place that will display them to get that URL out in front of as many people as possible is like having mini billboards at a fraction of the cost. I even had a publisher in Vermont wrap her delivery van with her car classified website URL.
The other thing I tell publishers it that the AutoConX toll-free tracking number and the SMS text codes and short code need to be prominent everywhere. This is critical for building the kind of lead results a dealer wants to see from your local auto vertical. And it’s surprising how many publishers fail to realize the importance of this.
I have probably launched more local auto search sites in the last few years than anyone else in the country. Those publishers that have exerted every bit of “marketing muscle” they have at their disposal have been successful. Those that haven’t…not so much.
If you build it they will come…But like anything else, you have to work hard at it.