Using local marketing in a small business is all about targeting potential customers in your town or region with your marketing activities, through both digital marketing and traditional offline marketing tactics. Local marketing can help you focus in on a specific geographic area, and when it's done effectively, it often translates into attracting the shoppers who are likely to become customers. The initial reason for this may be because your business is close to where they live and it's convenient for them, but the reason they stick around is because you are offering something they need and want. It is why local marketing can also help you build credibility for your brand, develop a positive reputation and foster customer loyalty over time.
If you are ready to get started with local marketing, pick a few of the marketing ideas listed here and try them in your small business to see if you can grow your local customer base.
- Focus on Local SEO: This first tactic should be considered a marathon instead of a sprint because it is not something you can do overnight. Instead, you can plant the seed for future web traffic by beginning to target keywords that are specific to your local business. For example, if you have a business named Smith Dry Cleaners in Walpack, New Jersey, you may want to develop content on your blog and website that focuses on targeting the keyword phrase: Walpack dry cleaners. It will draw in potential customers who live in your area and are searching for local dry cleaners.
- Use Location Targeting With Adwords and Facebook: Once you have content developed that highlights your local keywords, you can get even more eyes on it by using location targeting with AdWords. It allows you to have your advertisements shown only in the locations you select, helping you focus your marketing investment on the areas where you'll find the right local customers. Similarly, you can use location targeting with Facebook Ads to refine your audience for your local campaigns.
- Create Landing Pages for Each Geographic Area: It is possible to have more than one local marketing keyword that you are targeting in your business. Perhaps there are a handful of other towns in your local area, aside from the one your business is located in. It means you might have 5-6 keywords to use, each targeting a different town. One way to ensure the marketing content is relevant for potential customers in each of these towns is by creating a few different landing pages that have content specific for each location. You can use each page as the destination link for your advertisements and marketing campaigns that target each local keyword.
- Use Yelp: Yelp is all about local marketing, so it is a must-have if you are starting to execute local marketing campaigns. The first step is claiming your Yelp Business Page. Once you have your page claimed, you can update the contact information listed for your business, view and respond to customer reviews, post content like photos and special offers, and view your visitor activity. Yelp is often the first result that pops up when searching for local businesses on Google, whether your reviews are monitored or not. It is why Yelp should be a piece of the marketing strategy for any local business, regardless of any other local marketing tactics you employ. Social Media Examiner has an excellent article with more tips for using Yelp to market your business that is worth checking out as you get started with Yelp.
- Try SMS Marketing: SMS stands for short message service and refers to what we refer to as text messaging. Have you ever gotten a text message for a sale at a local retail store or an update from your dentist that it's time to schedule your next appointment? That's SMS marketing. This type of local marketing is a great fit for brick-and-mortar businesses who want to ramp up store foot traffic, service businesses who schedule appointments daily, and any business owner who want to reach potential customers in real-time.
- Sponsor Local Events: Depending on where your business is located, there may be a lot of local events every year organized and run by other local organizations. In many cases, these organizations are looking for fellow businesses to support their cause, either by teaming up to organize the event or just by donating money in exchange for being mentioned in their program and website. Both of these options are an excellent way to get your business in front of local patrons. If your business is in a more rural location, there is no reason why you can't expand your radius to support initiatives in neighboring towns. Reach out to other businesses and keep your eyes open for calls for support to get started.
- Team Up With Your Neighbors: If sponsoring an event isn't really for you, consider going smaller scale and teaming up with a neighboring business to double your reach by cross-promoting. It can be as simple as giving another store your coupons, flyers or business cards to display on their counter while you do the same for them. Or you can create co-branded deals that reward customers for making a purchase at both locations: "Buy one from us, get one half off from them." There are a lot of ways you can team up with other local small businesses to make a big impact on your customers. Check out this list of ways to cross-promote to get your creative juices flowing.
- Empower Your Employees to Be Marketers: Your employees can become one of your best marketing methods when you have local business. After all, they are the ones who interface with your customers day in and day out. The key to empowering your employees to be marketers is two-fold. First, they must be trained, so they are fully educated about your business, your products, and your goals. They can't promote you if they don't understand what your business is about. Second, you can encourage front-of-store employees to become salespeople by offering them incentives. Not everything has to be monetary; consider these ideas for employee incentives that won't break the bank.
- Join a Referral Network (Or Start Your Own): Referral networks pass leads back and forth among businesses and can be a perfect marketing tool for a local business. Because referral networks rely on word of mouth marketing and customer reviews, you can leverage all of the work you're doing on Yelp and other review platforms. The value comes from leveraging existing customer relationships to expand your reach by getting your business in front of the networks of each of your customers. If there isn't a local referral network yet, consider creating your own.
- Pitch to Local TV News and Other Media: Local media outlets are always looking for interesting and relevant news stories to share with readers and viewers. If you have an event coming up, a new product launching, or a special in-store event in the works, your local media may be interested and want to feature your business in an upcoming story. If you can tie a business event in with a local news story or hot topic, your small business can instantly become even more relevant and interesting. Follow these tips for getting the attention of local media before you pitch your story.
Try a few of these local marketing ideas, and see what kind of results you get. When you're ready, visit this expanded and general list of 101 marketing ideas and add a few new tactics to your list for a well-rounded marketing campaign.