7 Local Marketing Strategies You Can Use Today
Marketing is critical for the survival of your business, but, unfortunately, deciding where to start isn't always easy. However, like the hundreds of entrepreneurs who have gone before you - from Herman Lay, father of Lay chips, who went door to door building his brand, to John Pemberton, creator of Coke, who bought ad space for the product in his local paper the Atlanta Journal - you need to start local.
Marketing is critical for the survival of your business, but, unfortunately, deciding where to start isn’t always easy. However, like the hundreds of entrepreneurs who have gone before you – from Herman Lay, father of Lay chips, who went door to door building his brand, to John Pemberton, creator of Coke, who bought ad space for the product in his local paper the Atlanta Journal – you need to start local.
Whether your ultimate goal is to build a world-renowned brand or just a sustainable mom-and-pop enterprise you can pass to your kids, marketing is key, and local marketing should be the cornerstone of your campaign. Here’s where you can start today.
A few decades ago, a large ad in the Yellow Pages was enough to get your business found, and if you market to an older demographic or serve a small community where phone books are still popular, you should still take out that tried-and-true Yellow Pages ad.
However, you also have to get listed online with search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. These services boost your visibility and they also help you track how customers are finding you. Google My Business, for example, lets you update your business phone number, website and hours so the correct information appears on the results page when clients Google you. The service also brings up a link to your phone number, allowing prospective clients to call you immediately when they are using their phone or laptop and headphones. At the same time, you can track reviews and look at customer engagement numbers. Yahoo and Bing Local have similar services, and you should optimize them all.
Connect with City Websites
Make your presence known by connecting to local and community websites. Contact the Chamber of Commerce and ask for a link back to your page. Also, search for local review sites, online tourism magazines and similar local marketing resources and make sure your business is listed in the correct space. Not only does this help draw in traffic directly from these sites, it also potentially boosts your rankings in search results listings as these connections create valuable backlinks.
Reach Out Digitally
In addition to static listings and links, engage in digital outreach. Figure out if your client base is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social networking sites and get out there and find them. Eliciting engagement over social media may be easier than you think.
Hone in on your brand, and reflect it in your posts. If you’re a real estate agent, what do you sell about your community? Once you answer that question, follow local happenings sites and tourism magazines, and share their posts as well as your own witticisms and commentary on your channel. As your followers like or respond to the posts, you float across the newsfeeds of their friends, increasing your business’s visibility while also establishing your brand.
In contrast, imagine your run a small consignment store. Your desired customer base is relatively hip, visually focused and on Instagram. To reach them, you post pics of new inventory as well as fun artsy shot, or you invite them to post their pictures wearing your selections and utilizing your hashtag. Alternatively, imagine you run a B2B consulting firm and you reach your business clients through carefully cultivated informational posts on LinkedIn. You don’t have to use every social media channel, but you should have a presence on the ones your clients use.
In addition to running your own social media channels, reach out to others. Find complementary local companies with blogs and offer to write guest posts for them. For example, if you’re a decorator, offer to write a blog on staging empty houses for a local real estate agent. If you’re a cake baker, write a blog on how to choose a cake that makes everybody happy for a local wedding planner website.
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, hold events at your local store. For example, if you own a bar, host a customer appreciation night, where you personally, as the owner, hand a raffle ticket to each person. This has the dual advantage of drawing people in with the possibility of winning a contest, but also fostering a relationship between you and your patrons. Similarly, offer a special sale or catered hors d’oeuvres on Small Business Saturday.
Whether you have a brick-and-mortar shop, an exclusively online presence or a clinic where patients visit you privately, get involved with the community by sponsoring things. Put your name on the back of a community softball team’s jersey or buy a booth for a community fair and hand out free samples or swag with your logo. Alternatively, do something more long lasting such as sponsoring a new scoreboard for the local high school’s football field, adopting a stretch of highway for litter control or donating a bench with your logo to the city’s parks and recs department. While these gestures can be expensive, loans for professionals can help you to make that investment into your company and your community.
Contact companies such as Groupon that send coupons to consumers based on their locations, and create a coupon that will draw people to your store or website. Don’t forget about the power of paper coupons either. Many local organizations create fundraising coupon books and having a coupon in one of these booklets casts your company as charitable while also drawing in prospective clients. If possible, also contact local organizations such as churches or schools and offer their members a discount. In exchange, request a link on their website.
Focus on Public Relations Campaigns
Finally, run a public relations campaign. Send press releases to the local paper when you launch a new product or host a special event. If there are local TV or radio shows, offer to appear on panels or be interviewed during segments devoted to local businesses. Finally, draft letters to the editor, submit pictures to magazines or do anything else that gets your name in the local press in positive ways.
For small businesses, local marketing should be the heart of your advertising campaign. It should showcase your brand while also engaging customers and building loyalty. Ultimately, the role of local marketing is to improve your bottom line and establish your presence as an integral and important part of the community.
**Jess Harris, Head of Social Media & Content Marketing at Kabbage, Inc., has been helping small brands and startups expand their brand presence online for the last 8 years. Jess particularly loves helping small businesses start from scratch, using actionable insights to build a solid digital media strategy.