Competing with big-box chains and online superstores is one of the biggest issues for small business owners. But recently, the ‘Buy Local’ movement has inspired people to reinvest in their community by supporting local businesses.
Marketing to local audiences is now easier than ever thanks to the various tools and online services available online, as well as traditional marketing tactics.
If you have a newly established business and want to draw in local customers, these 8 tactics should be enough to get you started.
1. Get Listed in Local Directories
What do you do when you’re looking for a specific product or service in your area? You go to Google and type in phrases like ‘animal hospital near me’ or ‘Mexican restaurant near me’, right?
To make it easier for customers to find your contact details in Google and Google Maps, you need to get listed with Google My Business.
The list of online directories also includes Apple Maps, Bing, Yelp, HubSpot, Super Pages, Thumbtack, and Yellow Book.
2. Social Networking
Social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can put businesses in direct contact with local customers. If you operate in certain neighborhoods, look for local Facebook pages and where you will introduce your business. Make sure to offer special offers and discounts to your followers in order to motivate them to repeat using your services.
Many local businesses, especially shops, restaurants, and bars, should also consider listing on Foursquare. This social networking mobile service provides personalized recommendations of attractions and businesses near a user’s current location based on previous check-in and browsing history.
3. Local SEO
If you want to make sure that local customers can easily find you online, you need to improve your ranking in search engine results. The best way to achieve this is by optimizing your website for local searches.
There are several effective local SEO strategies you can use, including creating separate websites for each store location, setting up a Google+ business page, optimizing your content and web pages for local keywords, optimizing your website for mobile, adding relevant backlinks from other local/authoritative sites, etc.
4. Face-to-Face Networking
One-on-one communication can be a very effective way of building a strong local customer base. Experts claim that if someone has met you in person, they’re more likely to want to do business with your company or refer you to other people.
In addition, face-to-face networking can help you build marketing partnerships with other local businesses. For instance, a local wedding planner and a florist can partner up to promote each other.
5. Attending Local Events
Another great way to find customers interested in supporting local businesses is by participating in local events like festivals and flea markets. If your business doesn’t sell physical products, consider setting up an information booth or sponsoring these events to attract people’s attention.
In addition, you can organize small events on your own or in partnership with other local businesses. For example, the wedding planner and florist we mentioned earlier can work together to host a bridal showcase, a fashion show, or organize bridal seminars in the geographical area they serve. Other interesting ideas include flash sales, product demonstrations, and tastings.
6. Press Releases
Regardless of your company size or industry, a well-written and widely distributed press release can help you gain coverage in local news outlets, influential blogs, trade publications, industry-specific journals, podcasts, and other publications that cover your industry.
Even if you don’t have any big news to share, you can still turn to PR. Beside sharing company news, some of the most popular reasons for issuing a press release include: releasing product updates, making announcements, announcing an upcoming event, sharing data, addressing an issue, broadcasting achievements, etc.
Some companies may need to rethink their entire marketing strategies in order to be able to focus on attracting local customers. They might want to consider designing a separate campaign for this purpose and rebrand to a position as a community-centric company. You can accomplish this by using customer testimonials or including local customs or attractions in your advertisements.
8. Loyalty Programs
Once you’ve attracted local customers, you need to find ways to retain them. The best way to do this is loyalty programs. You can offer free products, coupons, as well as different levels of rewards and discounts, depending on how often your customers visit your store or how much money they spend on your products and services.
You can deliver these coupons and discounts through various channels like direct mail, social media, newsletters, etc. Loyalty programs are quite cost-effective and easy to maintain because they don’t require too much effort or time commitment.
If you’re a small local business with limited resources and budget, gaining new customers can be tough. However, these eight local marketing tactics should help you grow your local customer base.
Try implementing a few of the above-listed techniques into your local marketing campaign in order to find out which one works best for your business.
To make sure you aren’t wasting your time and budget, use tracking mechanisms to measure how successful each of the methods is. The best tool for this purpose is Google Analytics; however, if you decide to go with only one of these strategies, you can always ask new customers how they heard about your company.