Being a local business does not exclude you from potential profits driven by online advertising. Since the dawn of Internet advertising, companies have been able to limit their ad exposure to a local audience using IP targeting, keywords, user account information or a mix of all three.
When people request information from a search engine, they’re automatically assigned a unique IP address based partially on their computers and partially on their Web host. When the request comes into the search engine, the engine can pull the identifying data from the address to determine the requestor’s location and use that information to serve up ads relevant to the request and the location.
Many people use location-specific keywords when searching for a business in their area. For example, they’ll search for “hair salon Dallas” or “restaurants 60602”. If you own a hair salon in Dallas or a restaurant in the 60602 zip code, you can place ads that show up when these identifiers are used in a search. You won’t have to worry about wasting your advertising dollars creating impressions on customers in different geographic areas, and you’re likely to get your ad in front of more qualified potential customers.
Search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN offer users the chance to create a unique profile when they sign up for free email or other services. These search engines can also use data in the profiles to determine the exact location of specific users.
Don’t assume you can’t advertise on the Internet just because you don’t cater to a global audience. Internet advertising can be less expensive than print or radio, and it can help you reach more qualified prospects because you know they’re actively looking for businesses just like yours—in the area.