Marketing your business locally can be difficult since there are so many different approaches and so many different paths to success. Everyone will try to sell you their own recipe, but as long as you understand the basic principles, you can get your business out there and attract customers. Here are seventeen basic strategies that you can mix and match to fit the needs of your business and your community.
Small Business SEO is pretty straightforward and refers to setting up your web presence so that people in a certain area will be able to find your business easier.
The biggest rule of maximizing local SEO is to make sure that you have a physical location in the area in question. If you don’t, your business is going to have a hard time showing up in local search results.
If you’ve got multiple locations in different regions, then you want to have a separate website for each location. This is the best way to take advantage of local SEO in multiple areas.
It’s also critical that your business has many reviews from customers. Some businesses get caught up in having a high average review rating, but the truth is that you want quantity of reviews before anything else. A lot of average reviews will get your business a lot of exposure, but if you only have a few glowing reviews, then it’s not going to reach as many potential customers.
Partner with Another Business
If you decide to partner up with another business, whether it’s for a limited offer or a long-term partnership, then you’re multiplying your exposure. On top of all your traditional marketing, you’re now getting eyes from all the customers of your partnered business.
On top of that, if those customers have a positive impression of the partnered business, then some of that goodwill can transfer over to you. They like the other business and the other business approves of you enough to partner with you, therefore you come across as trustworthy.
It can also help a lot if your products and services complement one another. If they sell running shoes and you offer sports massages, it’s easy to convince customers of one to join the other.
Get Involved with the Community
Proving that your business contributes to the community is a great way to market locally. One of the simplest ways to do this is to sponsor a local project or group. At the inexpensive end of the spectrum, this could be as simple as sponsoring a local soccer or baseball team.
For a more direct approach, you can also volunteer your products or services to an event that could make use of them. If there’s going to be a local gathering and you run a restaurant, it’s straightforward enough.
It’s also pretty easy to offer discounts to local community members, especially if you target specific groups like veterans or college students.
Send Out Targeted Email Campaigns
Sending out customized emails to market locally can be pretty effective as well. The key lies in whether you’re able to demonstrate value over readily available alternatives.
One way to do this is to show that you understand local matters better than big chains that you’re competing with. Mentioning and setting up campaigns around local celebrations and events is one way to do that.
It can pay off to do some research on the demographics in your area, especially when it comes to religions and other groups that might have special holidays that you can use for special email offers.
Advertising through social media is another option, but you have to be careful how you go about it. Too much can come across as being out of touch, whereas too little won’t do any good for your visibility.
One option is to encourage customers to post on social media themselves. This is often easier to do with a subtler approach, so rather than explicitly asking customers to post, consider installing some feature or having some deal that makes people want to post.
You should also post to social media on the business’s account, pointing out any deals and announcing any big changes. If you have the time to either do it yourself or hire a specialist, engaging with customers online can ingratiate your business to the community.
Local TV Stations
Teaming up with local TV stations is a good choice as well. If you can manage to get your business featured on the local news, then that will reach a lot of new eyes, especially in the older demographics.
This is one major area where partnering with other local businesses and projects can come in pretty handy. If you are shown on air to be helping out at these events, then it’s better than free advertising.
Claim Your Google Local Listing
Claiming your business listing is pretty important for several reasons. First, it makes it easier for potential customers to find you online. If they struggle to find your business, they might give up and never give you a shot.
Second, it prevents any unfortunate misunderstandings from happening. If someone else does claim your business listing, whether it’s accidental or malicious, it could hurt your business. At best, some people might get confused and give up on searching for your business. At worst, it could drive existing customers away and tarnish your reputation.
Local Content Creation
Creating content that integrates and targets the local community is a great way to market your business. One easy way to do this is to post blog articles that specifically mention the local area. Not only does this drive up your discoverability in search engines, it also builds a connection between your business and the community.
You can also go a step further and post content that isn’t strictly about your business, but is rather about events in the community with a small but critical connection to your business. Show that you put the interests of the community first and offer your business as something to try, not as something you’re forcefully marketing.
Join Local Networking Groups
Connecting with local groups is a great way to build bonds not only with the community, but with other businesses. If you can build real connections with other trusted businesses, then you can become more trustworthy among loyal customers of those businesses.
Furthermore, other businesses can offer great insight into the local community and how best to handle it. As long as you aren’t competing in the same industry, you can help one another make the most out of events like festivals.
Consider Running a Coupon Deal Site Offer
Online coupons are a great way to simultaneously direct traffic to your site and turn site visitors into real customers. If you set up the coupon offers with good SEO, then you may be able to catch new local customers that are browsing.
One big thing to keep in mind is that it can pay to be lax about printing off online coupons. If a customer comes in and saw the coupon, but didn’t actually print it out, there’s no real benefit to turning them down. The objective was to get them in the door and you can only earn goodwill by offering them the deal regardless.
Advertise a Loyalty Program
A loyalty program can turn one-time customers into lifelong supporters. However, you want to make sure that it isn’t too intrusive. Your objective isn’t to milk the customer with a subscription fee or bury them under a mountain of reminders, it’s to get them coming back.
Offering easy signup in store is a good way to get started, but you should also make it easy for them to sign up online. Provide them with regular newsletters announcing new deals, as well as exclusive discounts for their loyalty.
If you can provide bigger rewards like freebies for supporting your business, then you can set them up to be awarded after a certain number of purchases, a certain value in purchases, or a certain number of years of support. If you want to get a little more complicated, you can set up a rewards program that gives a percentage of cash back or gives points that can be redeemed for rewards.
Advertise in Local Public Transport Hubs
One of the best ways to get eyes on your business is to advertise where there are a lot of eyes. This sounds simple in theory, but it can be pretty tough to identify where that actually is. Many communities, especially in America, lack major transportation hubs, so you may need to get creative.
Billboards in high-traffic areas are a good start if there are a lot of cars in the area. Bus stops can be valuable too, but you need to track which stops actually get a lot of traffic. For maximum effectiveness, consider putting advertisements inside the buses themselves.
Hold a Local Event
Organizes your own local event can be a great way to raise awareness, but it can also be expensive and easy to mess up. You need to make sure that you pick a good time for the event, plus a location that is easily accessible.
You also need to make sure that the event offers specific benefits or interests that would bring local community members in. You’re not going to see a big rise in your long-term business if you only appeal to tourists and visitors.
Local Public Relations
Investing time and/or money into local public relations is a valid strategy as well. If you’re working in an area that has a large population or a lot of competition within your industry, then getting expert help can be necessary to get your foot in the door.
Make sure you do your research beforehand and get the right kind of PR for the job. In some cases, you may just need a social media specialist to make posts and respond to questions and criticism online. For larger businesses that need a bigger edge, you may need press releases and statements on big developments.
Win Over Local Bloggers and Journalists
When it comes down to it, appealing to established media and social media presences is one of the best ways to boost the image of your business. If you can get endorsements from people that are already trusted by the community, you can get easy credibility and customers eager to try your business.
One of the simplest ways is to reach out to bloggers and journalists, offering them free samples in exchange for coverage. The cost may seem high if you’re just starting out, but the rewards can be much greater. You’re not just securing the possibility of other customers, you may also be securing those very bloggers and journalists as customers for life.
Local Billboard Advertising
However, getting a billboard in even the best location isn’t worth much if you can’t get people to pay attention. You need to stand out in a way that that makes passersby remember your business, so a catchy slogan or picture isn’t enough. You need to make that connection between your business and the memorable ad.
On the other hand, if you pick an area with slower traffic, then you can opt for a billboard that contains more information and a fuller representation of your business. If people have more time to look, then you don’t have to make everything immediately stick to their brain at a glance.
Sponsoring some local organizations is a good way to build up goodwill with a level of expense that fits your business. If you only have a single location and not much business yet, you can start with something cheap like a youth baseball team. If you have more money to work with and a more populated area, you can be a sponsor for a pro or semi-pro team.
Getting such a sponsorship can inform people that your business exists, but it’s more geared towards building up goodwill in people that are already aware of your business. Your objective isn’t to get your name out there, it’s to get your name connected with giving to the community and providing valuable services.