In recent years, we have seen a shift toward people supporting local. This is particularly true for business. Despite our digital economy, in the immediate future, it seems some of your best opportunities for gaining new customers comes from your backyard.
You likely already have a presence in your community, but how can you continue to expand on it? Consider implementing these traditional and digital marketing strategies to promote yourself locally.
When someone wants to find something, the first thing they do is look it up online. If you want to be known, then you need to appear at the top of those search results. Local businesses most often appear in searches through their review pages, so your first priority is Google.
Google offers a free business profile through Google My Business. If you’ve ever used Google Maps and seen a location represented by a picture, address and phone number, that’s what you’ll get from Google. It’s a necessity and will quite literally put you on the map.
The same goes for Bing. As people increase access to voice search devices like Amazon’s Alexa, Bing has become a bigger player for producing search engine results. Be sure to take the same steps to updating your business profile on Bing.
The next step is to claim your listings on the biggest review sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, Better Business Bureau and Yellow Pages. Your business may already exist on these sites but claiming it allows you to verify the information and often increases activity since users know their reviews are going to the source.
You’ll also want to set Google Alerts, a free tool to notify you when people are talking about your business online. Reviewing your standing within the local community is key to improving it.
Want to get even more out of your reviews? Respond by engaging with your reviews. While authentic responses will provide the best ratings, using templates as a shell for your responses with some customized details can save time. Looking online for tips to responding to negative reviews, in particular, will help to ensure that you get the best benefit out of every response.
You can gain a positive reputation for your local business by contributing to the place you call home. If you have the means, allocate some of your marketing dollars to investing in local projects or sponsoring events. This shows you care about what’s going on around you.
Local projects could include construction, preservation, team sponsorship or even an academic, artistic or athletic scholarship. As you decide, consider how what you want to do relates to your business and what your customers care about. Creating a meaningful connection between what you offer and what you support can enhance the perception of both.
When sponsoring local events, consider donating some of your goods or services if they’re relevant. It’s a great way to get people to try what you’re offering at least once. If they like what they received, you should get a good repeat rate especially since people will likely have a stronger affinity for businesses that care about what they care about. Furthermore, appearing in person at these events can give your business a face and create real connections within your community.
Strengthening the geographically close relationships you already have makes it easier to create new ones. Consider this: when the power of word-of-mouth recommendations combines with a zero barrier to entry (ie. you are easily accessible), new local customers will be more likely to visit your store or try your product. This is especially true if you’re in an area with high foot traffic, like an urban core or a mall.
Pro-tip: Free treats, and bonus discounts for loyal customers builds a reputation and get locals excited about coming back for more and recommending you to a friend.
Like you, other businesses in your area will be focusing on their local presence. Some may be your competition, while others may be valuable partners.
Look for common ground with your neighbours and see how you can benefit each other. Together, you may be able to create your own local events that would be impossible alone – such as sidewalk sales. You’ll be developing a sense of community rather than simply becoming a part of it.
Another way to collaborate is through cross-promotions. Reward customers for supporting both businesses with special deals and discounts. This is a unique way to gain new clients by introducing your regulars to a local establishment and receiving introductions in return. Saving money is an appealing draw and can encourage people to experiment.
Your website, social media and advertising are all important parts of your online presence. Try blogging to improve your website visibility and improve your search engine results. Blogs also allow you to communicate in a fun, casual setting. Talk about your experience as a business owner, encourage people to support local events or create something fun with your product. Whatever you do, you’ll build a persona that people will want to interact with.
Keep your message short, but post frequently or regularly while considering how you can add value to your reader’s life.
An easy way to brainstorm topics that make sense is to think about the common inquiries you get from customers. For every person who asks a question, a significant number of others probably have the same question.
If you want to generate some engagement with your blog, ask a pointed question at the end and explicitly invite readers to chime in on your blog or redirect them to comment on your social media platforms.
Much like a blog, social media allows you to give some personality to your brand. Use it to promote your business in fun, shareable ways, and communicate quickly with your followers. If you’re participating in the community, it’s an easy place to raise awareness of your contributions and events that you’re sponsoring. Consider collaborating with other local businesses and influencers to make creative content that grabs attention.
Again, consistency and frequency is key. It’s better to choose one or two platforms and post frequently than to post rarely on several platforms.
Lastly, consider highly targeted local online ads, this could include social media advertising or boosting on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook/Instagram. Setting up an account and a campaign is easy, and once you’re in, you’ll see how simple it is to zero in on your target audience.
You’ll also be amazed by how inexpensive it is to generate serious exposure. Social media can give you the best bang for your limited marketing budget.
By focusing on people in the area, you can run a campaign for a shorter amount of time while still knowing it reached your target market. Local advertising lets you address insider issues, and feature people or landmarks they feel connected to.
No one creates word-of-mouth in a community like the people who know it best. Local celebrities and influencers love to support businesses in their neighbourhood. If you get the chance, introduce yourself and tell them what you do. They may take an interest, give it a try and get involved the next time you’re participating in your community.
Focusing on local is all about creating relationships. Getting to know your neighbours is always a good move for you, and your business.
Learn more about investing in your community.