A fascinating trend that came out of 2020 is how much people have come to rely on the things immediately around them. This is particularly true for local businesses. In the immediate future, it seems your best opportunities for gaining new customers will come from your backyard.
You likely already have a presence in your community, but how can you continue to nurture it? Consider implementing these traditional and digital marketing strategies in 2020 to promote yourself locally.
Target review sites
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 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 in the ’20s and will quite literally put you on the map.
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. Knowing your standing within the community is key to improving it.
Give back to your community
You can gain a positive reputation for your local business by contributing to the place you call home. Try investing in local projects or sponsoring events. This shows you care about what’s going on around you.
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. 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 go out of their way to support local. Also, by appearing in person at these events, you can also give your business a face and create real connections with 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.
TIP: Free treats and bonus discounts all build a reputation and get locals excited about repeatedly coming back for more.
Collaborate with other local businesses
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. 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.
Increase your online presence
Your website, social media and advertising are all important parts of your online presence. Try blogging to improve your website visibility and rise up the search ranks. 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.
The most effective blogs range between 750 and 1,250 words and add value to the reader, which means the reader takes something away from the post that they can apply to their lives.
An easy way to brainstorm topics that make sense is to think about the common inquiries you get from customers. You have to know that for every person who asks a question, a significant number of others probably have the same question.
And if you want to generate some engagement with your blog, ask a pointed question at the end and explicitly invite readers to chime in.
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 you’re sponsoring. Consider collaborating with other local businesses and influencers to make creative content that grabs attention.
Lastly, consider highly targeted local online ads on 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 hyper-target whoever, wherever and whenever makes the most sense for your business. For example, a pizza joint may target the neighbourhood students live in at midnight on a Saturday via Twitter and Instagram whereas a high-end dry cleaner may target C-level executives on LinkedIn and Facebook in early morning.
You’ll also be amazed by how inexpensive it is to generate serious exposure. Social media definitely gives you the best bang for your ad bucks.
Also, 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. And local advertising lets you address insider issues, and feature people or landmarks they feel connected to.
Get to know your local leaders
No one creates word-of-mouth in a community like the people who know it best. Local politicians, 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.