Local businesses are a lot like communities, you can't build them without the trust and support of your neighbors. But it can take years to build a trustworthy reputation within your community, especially considering that the average survival rate for most businesses is less than four years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So how do you strike a balance between marketing your business to neighbors and building a reputation of trust within your community?
Local Marketing Strategy
Approach local marketing like any other campaign—starting with an analysis of your business’s challenges and goals. From there, determine your annual marketing budget, and conduct market research to learn about competitors, customer needs, and how you can provide a better product or service - at the best price. Then, define and segment your audience. Once you complete those tasks and establish a focus, move onto tactics.
1. Optimize Your Website
Customers expect all businesses to have a responsive, aesthetically pleasing, and functional website. Nearly 80% of local searches end in an offline sale, but they can't end in a sale of your website doesn't work on their phone. Minor improvements to design and website speed can go a long way in customer satisfaction and local marketing success.
If your website needs work, update it before you spend money on other forms of marketing. Here are a couple of free resources you can use to diagnose and repair minor issues your website might be facing.
- Google PageSpeed Insights - See how your website load time compares to the competition and how to improve it.
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test - Test if your website is mobile responsive or needs work.
2. Update Google My Business
In 2016, local search accounted for almost half of all Google searches. And the top three businesses (Google’s 3-pack) appear in over 90 percent of local searches. That’s why you must claim your Google listing and update all online directories and listings with your company contact information! When you do, include your business’s address(es), phone number(s), and easy click-to-call or find directions in Google Maps functions. Learn more about how to rank for “near-me” searches.
- Google My Business - Get found by potential customers through Google Search.
- SimilarWeb Chrome Extension - Instantly check website traffic sources for any website (including competitors).
3. Sponsor an Event
Show your community you care and build a positive relationship with your potential customer base by sponsoring a local event. Find a cause that gets a lot of attention or coordinates with your mission like a race, sporting event, or non-profit fundraiser. Affiliate yourself with a good cause to do wonders for your local marketing efforts.
- Sponsor My Event - Find local events looking for sponsorship.
4. Use Geotags
Social media is invaluable for local marketing—especially with millennials. According to our Customer Loyalty Survey, millennials are twice as likely as people over 45 to develop brand loyalty with companies they communicate with via social media. Also, use geo-tags. These location tags receive nearly 80 percent more engagement than posts without them. The bottom line: get on social media to connect with a qualified audience, and target people in your immediate area.
- SocialRank - Segment your social audience by number of followers and location to create hyper local marketing campaigns.
5. Create a Partnership
Think of a brand partnership like an influencer campaign on social media. Leverage their customer base, reputation, or complementary product or service to promote your brand. Consider what’s in it for your partner brand too. As long as both of you bring something to the table, you’ll form a symbiotic relationship that will benefit everyone involved.
- PeopleMap - Find influential people and brands by location and number of followers.
6. Get Local Press
If you have news, share it with local publications! This includes event sponsorships, scholarships you contribute to, human interest stories, and/or company announcements like new location openings, sales, and more. Attend networking events to meet reporters and establish a relationship. Or research contacts at influential news outlets and send them press releases when you have something to promote—and that they’ll find interesting. Consider placing an ad in local papers and online publications too for additional exposure.
- Help a Reporter Out (HARO) - HARO connects journalists to sources to help both get the coverage they need.
7. Run Targeted Email Campaigns
About 75% of marketers report email delivers “excellent ROI." Try adding email to your local marketing to deploy exclusive sale information, event reminders, loyalty program information, and more.
- Mailchimp - Stay on your customer's mind with Mailchimp's marketing automation tools.
8. Ask for Reviews
Reviews build trust with customers and fast-track your way to sales. Testimonials also help your SEO—decreasing your bounce rate and providing valuable keyword research. Collect more reviews just by asking. List your business on top review sites and send targeted review invites to platforms with established audiences like Facebook and Google.
- Podium - More than 10x your average monthly reviews like Park Place, On Call Events, and Riddle's Jewelry
Master Local Marketing
Marketing isn't easy, especially if you're a local business owner wearing multiple hats. But the better you understand your customers, the easier it will be to find the best local marketing strategy to appeal to their preferences. This list of ideas and tools should help you take the first steps toward executing an incredibly effective local marketing campaign.