Jumpstart Your Local Search Consulting Business

Linda Buquet

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If you want to catch LOCAL fish, you need to go where the LOCAL fish are biting!

Tired of chasing customers, cold calling and prospecting headaches?
Try this strategy and get new clients coming to you!


(Below I share strategies I've personally used to launch 2 very successful businesses)​

Following are some EXTREMELY HIGH AUTHORITY Small Business Forums most folks don't know about. And below that is advice about how to build your reputation as the expert, attract new leads and grow your business with forums. This is the kind of information I normally reserve for the PRIVATE Local Pros Forum (which is reserved for my training clients). But just to give you a little taste, thought I'd share publicly.

One SMB forum I share below is Manta. You all know Manta, right? A leading local business directory.
Did you know Manta also has a thriving forum? Guess what? It's filled with SMBs that need help!


There are lots of Internet marketing, SEO and Webmaster forums. The problem is most are focused on organic SEO or national marketing. Only a small percentage of readers/members likely happen to be LOCAL business owners interested in LOCAL marketing. The forums below are PRIMARILY small business owners, many looking for help and advice.

EXTREMELY HIGH AUTHORITY BUSINESS FORUMS

MANTA Doing Business on the Web - Your Website - Manta

Doing Business on the Web - Social Media - Manta

Marketing & Advertising - Manta Connect

(Manta Forum Features: PR 6 domain. Forum domain PR 5. Full business profile pages.)

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Bank of America Internet and eCommerce - B of A Small Business Community

Advertising, Sales and Marketing - B of A Small Business Community

(B of A Forum Features: Site PR 8. Forum PR 6. Do follow profile link.)

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SBA Small Business Administration Marketing Advertising | SBA.gov
(SBA Forum Features: PR 8 site domain. PR 7 Forum. Sigs allowed)

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INTUIT - Grow Your Business | Intuit Community

INTUIT - Starting a Business | Intuit Community

(Intuit Forum Features: Do follow links, root domain PR 7, community subdomain PR 6)

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NICHE FORUMS:

Of course if you specialize in a particular vertical OR focus on a particular city/region, then try to find forums specific to that niche. Just search Keyword + Forum or Community for starters.

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SMALLER less authoritative forums (Not sure worth joining, check to see if meet any of your needs)

Small Business Ideas Forum
Business Advice Forum
Startup Nation Business Forum
The Small Business Community Forums

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FYI - above I only sourced out for you the sections of each forum that might have Internet marketing related questions. However if you are going to participate in any of these forums check out the other sections. Most have an intro forum and some even have a section where you can highlight your business. Others have sections for sharing your FB and Twitter page, etc.

In addition to prospecting, I think some of these VERY EXTREMELY HIGH AUTHORITY forums may be good for building backlinks to your consulting site. At one point I was checking and was going to post which allow sigs and which have do-follow backlinks, but ran out of time, so am just posting the forum links and you can go check which ones meet your needs.

FORUM POSTING TIPS

I've largely used forums to build up my expert reputation in 2 industries. The other company, that I still own, I built grew to the level where I was doing long term ad campaigns for Google, Microsoft and many others. Forum marketing was my foundation and that's how I built my reputation.

The key is to use forums to leverage/build your reputation. Don't think of it as prospecting for leads, think of it as finding ways to genuinely help people and share your knowledge and the leads will follow.

The key to forum promotion is NOT to promote! 1st of all self-promotion will get you banned at most forums. Second, it's a turn off to the community members. They can smell self-promoters a mile away.

Answer questions, provide needed info, start new threads about topics related to that particular community. If you want to become known as the go-to-guy for Google Local Optimization, then answer site-building and SEO related questions on forums like the ones above that focus on small business. And then also just start threads with tips you pick up or news and updates about Google changes.

SPEND THE TIME TO OPTIMIZE SIG & PROFILE - Since you will NOT be advertising yourself and just posting helpful comments, be sure you have a well thought out forum sig (if that forum allows them) and/or and well done profile page that makes it easy for people to learn more about you and contact you.

If I were starting from scratch or was in a plateau and needed more business, I would join and become a valued regular at the 2 or 3 best forums I could find. Realize that ONE of the outcomes for you could be, not just SMBs contacting you, but other professionals that post there that have relationships with clients who may need your service. Web designers, SEOs (that don't get local or don’t want to deal with it) or even business and marketing consultants.

Probably the single biggest catalyst for my Dental Local SEO business happened directly as a result of the strategies I share above. I posted regularly at a Dental forum, helping Dentists with Internet marketing related questions. One of the most well known SEOs in Dentistry contacted me after reading many of my posts. He HATED local and would not touch a Place page. Only did organic. But when everything started merging together his Drs. needed help with Local. He started referring all his clients to me. Not just referring but telling them: "You need to call Linda today - period - just do it!" And they all did! And my brand new little Google Places Optimization took off like a rocket ship. He didn't even want a referral fee. Just wanted his clients taken care of.

Suddenly my new Google Places Optimization business was earning more after 4 months in business than many sole proprietors or consultants do after 10 years. It all started with forums.

HUGE advantages to the above strategies!

1) Totally free lead generation. (I never spent a dime in advertising)

2) No cold calling, prospecting, getting past the gate keeper

3) Customers COME TO YOU, because they can see from your posts you are a pro and you seem like someone they'd want to work with. (So they are already pre-sold on you.)

4) OR they come to you highly referred by another pro they trust, because that pro believes in you, due to the reputation you built up in that particular forum.

So there you have it. A new way to find more business and build your rep as an expert authority at the same time.

Questions? Thoughts?
 

Linda Buquet

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P. S. This is the major post I told some of you about. The one that I wanted to get the Consultant's Corner section of the forum set up for. It was just really hard to finish with everything I'm trying to do.
Too many balls in the air... :p
 

Simon James

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I'm not sure how many of these apply to the UK, but it's a timely reminder to get more laser focussed on where my ideal customer hangs out, and start building an audience.
 

Cindy

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Linda -

Thanks for sharing this incredible tip! When I first went into business - many, many years ago - I played things close to the vest. Never wanted to divulge my business practices, my marketing strategies, or anything else, for fear that others would copy from me. It took a while, but I finally learned that sharing knowledge is a far more productive strategy in attracting new business. The reality is that while some people will intend to copy what you do, they typically don't have what it takes to get things off the ground. Potential clients are way too busy worrying about their own business, and just don't have time to focus on things outside of their core business. They are happy to hire someone who appears knowledgable in what they need done. In short, you catch more flies with honey! Great strategy.

This new forum rocks!!

Cindy
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Cindy,

Good points all!

And keep in mind you don't give away all your secrets and also don't have to do full service free consulting on a forum. Just give enough to answer the easy questions, allude to bigger issues and let them see you are a person that can deal with lots of different related problems.

Generically sharing client stories can be good too. "Yes that XYZ Google problem happened to one of our clients too, but it was even more complicated because they also had an issue with XYZ. But luckily since we work with so many clients that have had similar problems we knew the best work-around, got it fixed and a week later they were back on top. If it happens again, here's a great tip."

Then another key for working forums - ENGAGE and ASK A QUESTION.

End with: "Has this ever happened to anyone else - what did you do?" OR "Anyone else have any tips to share?"

Because the way most regulars read forums is to come in once or twice a day and view recent posts. If your post is buried on page 3 - no one will see it. But if you ask a question and ENGAGE - then others as they pop in may reply or add to the thread. Every time they do it bumps it back up ON TOP, so YOUR post with YOUR great advice gets more eyeballs. :)

ONE OTHER TIP - TIMING

Weekends are dead at most forums. Pay attention to the activity cycle at the forum you are focusing on.
If it's more of a business forum and most people are online during business hours, post then. I have people at my other forum posting ads for marketing partners at 10 PM on a Saturday night. No one sees it then. And Sunday is dead. By Monday when potential partners are online that Saturday night post is buried and no one sees it.
 

Linda Buquet

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I'm sure you all saw this thread about picking a niche market and how to build your industry rep via forums. I listed some major SMB forums above.

But just started to share individual industry niche forums back in the private Local Search Pros forum as I find them. So if you are a Pro looking for carpet cleaning leads, I just shared a cleaning industry forum that has a thread 4 pages long of carpet cleaners having Google Local problems. Some could maybe use some help. So check the private forum for deets. :)
 
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Has anybody found any well moderated Facebook groups for business owners that are also conducive to local search Q&A?
 

jtweav

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Speaking at events even non web related meetups. Always give away free tips and tricks and the right guys will come and say I don't want to do this alone.
 
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Linda

I am very grateful for all the information you impart and thank you.
Your forum now has its own folder on my bookmarks bar (for quick access to various interesting posts, it will fill up rapidly, I am sure)
I will be checking out similar forums in the UK, using your sage advice. If I can give back anything, I would gladly do so. Thank you again.

On one post you mention carpal issues, have you looked at using voice to text.

Or if you are open to new ideas, try EFT.

Regards
Hayden
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks for the kind words Hayden! Glad you are enjoying the forum.

Thanks for the carpal tips. Have tried both. Well actually I've tried EFT for other things, not specifically for the carpal. But it's doing a little better in general lately.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Dang it, thought this was a new thread. I was really excited too!

All these forums seem to be older and not frequented as much anymore.

Any new ones Linda?
 

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