Every company needs an effective marketing strategy, but local businesses require a special approach. When your company serves a specific area, you need a marketing plan that focuses on driving brand awareness, sales, and customer loyalty within those geographic boundaries. After all, you need to boost your business's credibility and stay ahead of the competition without wasting resources on customers outside of your area. Find out how to develop a local business marketing plan with 10 efficient strategies.
What is Local Business Marketing?
Local business marketing comprises any strategy that intends to reach customers who live within a certain distance of your storefront or office. Most brick-and-mortar retail locations or companies that provide in-person services embark on local marketing campaigns. So too do chain or franchise locations looking to acquire new customers from within the local community.
Local Business Marketing vs. Global Business Marketing: What’s the Difference?
If you look at the above information on what types of companies market locally, you might think that internet-based companies wouldn’t benefit from local marketing approaches. After all, a company with a target audience comprising the whole internet doesn’t need to find local customers – it can sell to the whole world. This distinction separates local business marketing from global business marketing.
In local business marketing, generating sales from customers in physical proximity to the company is key. In global business marketing, there’s no geographical tether. These two marketing approaches also differ in their:
- Cost . Local marketing is often significantly less expensive than global marketing. Many local business marketing approaches, as you’ll see below, are inherently low-cost. Global marketing approaches, on the other hand, can become more costly as you hire digital marketing agencies and run multi-channel campaigns.
- Targeting and buyer personas . A good local marketing campaign is built from the foundation of a thoroughly defined buyer persona. For example, a women’s vintage clothing shop operating in a suburb might target millennial women of certain income ranges who live in adjacent towns. A women’s vintage e-commerce operation, on the other hand, could reasonably target all women on the internet.
The above two factors are inextricably related. E-commerce businesses can target more people because their theoretically limitless audience presents more revenue opportunities and thus more money for marketing. Local business customer bases are inherently limited, so they may bring in less revenue and have smaller marketing budgets. The good news is that the below local business marketing approaches often have high returns on investment.
17 Efficient Local Business Marketing Strategies
To best reach a local target audience and build a strong base of repeat customers in your area, try the below local business marketing approaches:
1. Get Your Google My Business Listing
When local customers search for your business online, you want to make sure they can access the most accurate, up-to-date information. That's why it's essential to sign up for Google My Business. With a Google My Business profile, you can provide the correct address, phone number, website, and hours every time someone searches for your company.
You can also add your business to Google Maps so local customers can find it more easily. Since customers can leave reviews and ratings, your Google listing can also deliver social proof.
2. Verify Your Business on Review Sites
Another key step to marketing a local business is confirming your listings on popular review sites. Since Yelp allows customers to add businesses to the platform, start by checking for an established listing for your company. If one already exists, you can claim it as your own and verify that the details are correct. If you can't find a listing, create a new Yelp page with the correct contact information and hours.
3. Set Up Social Media Pages
Next, take advantage of one of the most effective local marketing strategies by setting up social media profiles on all major platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If your company has multiple locations, consider setting up separate pages for each branch. Then develop a social media marketing plan that allows your local business to shine. For example, you can advertise specials and discounts, tell behind-the-scenes stories, and highlight your local community.
4. Focus on Local SEO
When you run a local business, you want to have control over the information customers see when they search for your business. Since the top three search results on Google receive over three-quarters of clicks, it's important that your website ranks at the top. You can improve your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) by focusing on local search engine optimization (SEO). For example, starting a blog is one of the best local marketing ideas since a blog allows you to create high-ranking content that appeals to your customer base.
5. Master Email Marketing
To stay in touch with current and prospective customers, collect subscribers and start an email list. Send email updates regularly to share news like product launches, special discounts, or helpful blog posts. Choose an email service provider that allows tagging so you can separate subscribers based on their local store. Then send hyperlocal messages to select subscriber groups, keeping them current on happenings at their favorite location.
6. Start a Customer Loyalty Program
When you're first learning how to market your business, you'll quickly discover that loyal customers can be one of your most valuable assets. After all, boosting your customer retention rate by only 5% can improve profits by as much as 95%. To encourage customers to return to your local business, launch a loyalty program. If you offer discounts and other incentives to returning customers, you can inspire them to return again and again.
7. Work With Local Influencers
For many local businesses, word-of-mouth marketing is more effective than traditional advertising. To spread the word about your business, develop partnerships with local influencers. You can send them complementary products and ask for a review or ask them to introduce your business to their social media followers, many of whom may be based in your area. You can also provide local influencers with affiliate links in an effort to boost product sales.
8. Launch a Co-Marketing Campaign
In addition to working with local influencers, partnering with other companies in your area can be one of the best ways to promote your business. Seek out companies that aren't direct competitors but that offer products and services that complement yours. Then brainstorm some social media, email marketing, or blogging campaigns that promote both of your businesses. You can develop co-marketing campaigns that increase local awareness or drive sales.
9. Advertise in Your Local Area
To get on your local customers' radar, take advantage of advertising opportunities in your area. Some of the most effective local advertising avenues include broadcasting commercials to radio listeners and creating billboards that get your customers' attention. Some other popular advertisement ideas for small businesses include placing ads in newspapers, local magazines, and circulars with a wide distribution throughout your area.
10. Connect With Your Local Community
Small business owners like yourself are in a unique position to form meaningful relationships with their local communities. You can attend local events to meet potential customers in your area, or you can host your own event in partnership with a regional nonprofit. In both cases, you’ll show that your company cares about, and can solve problems for, the people around it.
You can also go a step further and put in work to become a community leader. Doing so is a matter of identifying pressing issues in your area and regularly showing up to assist with them.
11. Share Your Story Through Content
Most people love a good story – stories are humanizing and often resonate with one’s own lived experience. A company that can forge such connections with a potential customer increases the likelihood of one or many purchases. Content can help you achieve this goal.
Make sure your website has an “our story” page, a section that’s becoming increasingly common on small business websites. Write blog posts and create videos that further elaborate on not just your story, but how your journey relates to your offerings. Explain how your products or services filled a gap in your life – and then, show customers how your company will do the same for them. Bonus points if you use local SEO to help boost chances that your target audience will see your content.
12. Offer Discounts
Local businesses have myriad ways to offer and advertise steep discounts. If you operate a storefront in your neighborhood, put signs in your windows promoting your discounts. Better yet, follow the lead of those window signs with exclusive in-store discounts. Think about going to your favorite big-name clothing store and seeing rows full of sales – you too can achieve a similar effect.
You can also ask your current and potential customers if they’d like to provide their email address in exchange for exclusive discounts. Add these customers to your email list, then use marketing automation to send them a signup discount. Keep the discounts coming in future emails.
13. Start a Loyalty Program
The above discount approach provides a natural segue into starting a loyalty program. These programs can take many shapes, but they often start by collecting a customer’s email address. Once this customer is on your list, you can send them discounts exclusive to loyalty program members.
Alternatively, you can give out loyalty cards (which are typically the size of business cards) that your team will mark off every time the customer buys from you. After a certain number of purchases, you can make the next one heavily discounted or, ideally, free. Countless local businesses have used this model – surely you’ve encountered it at a small cafe – and you can too.
14. Hold social media contests
If you’ve ever entered a company’s contest to win any sort of prize, then you understand the power of social media contests. To run one of your own, post your contest rules on all your social media, making sure to state the prize and contest end date. Common instructions might include asking participants to visit your storefront, post a picture of something they bought there, explain why they bought it, and tag your company.
As you receive entries, log all participants’ social media handles in a numbered list and place it somewhere you know you won’t lose them. Then, when it’s time to choose a winner, add all the numbers into a randomizer. Whichever number the randomizer chooses wins your prize.
15. Book a local TV appearance
In the internet era, it’s easy to mistakenly overlook the power of local TV for your business. Local TV stations might be some residents’ go-to info source for all kinds of information, so appearing there strongly places your company in front of your community.
To get on TV, pitch yourself as a guest on a recurring segment. Perhaps you have a unique perspective to offer on local business affairs, or maybe your local community leadership qualifies you to speak on a prominent social issue. If you successfully book an appearance and receive an especially enthusiastic response, you could even ask the TV channel for a recurring segment. The more you appear, the more you establish yourself as someone worth buying from.
16. Seek Referrals
Offer your customers referral discounts every time they successfully persuade someone to buy from your company. You’ll more than make up for the slight revenue hit of a discount to your current customer with the sale you make to your new customer. The more people whom your current customers convert through this unique word-of-mouth strategy, the more your money lost upfront translates to greater earnings down the line.
17. Try Unique Marketing Ideas
When you really want to stand out and capture local customers' attention, think outside of the box. Some of the most successful local businesses capitalize on original promotions, such as branded clothing and other wearable items or sponsorships from unlikely partners. To capture interest and drive brand awareness, your local business can also create online contests that customers can easily share with friends and family.
As you create a plan to grow your small business, remember that the right marketing mix is different for every company. Try these local marketing strategies to find out what produces the best results and then put the most effective tactics to work for your small business.