Local marketing is a marketing strategy that targets a geographically localised audience. It’s a strategy mostly used by small businesses to attract new local customers from areas nearby and develop strong customer relationships with the local community.
Larger companies also use local marketing as a type of micromarketing strategy, directly all their marketing efforts to a localized group of target customers.
Think of any small store or restaurant or even a boutique that does not have any other branches or is not part of a larger chain.
What would benefit them more?
- Investing their funds in advanced marketing techniques to reach a global audience, or
- Channeling their marketing efforts into attracting a local audience and building a better relationship with them?
The answer is b.
As a local business owner, your aim should be not only to gain new customers, but to also retain your past customers.
Why is Local Marketing Important For Your Small Business?
People are creatures of habit.
We tend to favour businesses or stores that are close to our home so that we can shop conveniently.
As a small business owner, it is important to stay ahead of the competition by ensuring that the ambience and service that you provide wins you loyal customers. This will allow you to grow your business more easily.
Types Of Local Marketing
Local marketing can be of two main types depending on the channels used for the marketing efforts of the business.
Offline Local Marketing
Offline marketing refers to traditional marketing ideas that are targeted to the local community surrounding the business.
Some popular methods of offline local marketing are as follows:
1.Getting a Local Celebrity or Sports Person To Promote The Product.
This will automatically increase the trust factor and credibility of your business. Companies usually invest in billboards, flyers, leaflets, or advertisements featuring the celeb to increase sales.
2.Sourcing and Featuring Local Raw Materials.
Customers are getting more conscious about what they’re consuming. Say, for example, there is a fast food chain competing with a local restaurant that only uses the freshest local produce in preparing meals. Customers would definitely prefer the local restaurant over the fast food chain as local produce is healthier.
3.Building a Loyal Customer Base.
Local businesses can invest in building a strong relationship with their customers by offering freebies, major discounts for regular shoppers, and other such enticing deals.
This also helps in word-of-mouth advertising, as satisfied customers refer their friends and family to your store because of your strategized local marketing efforts.
4.Contributing To The Local Community.
Some businesses extend support and help to local causes and also organize a local event to attract people and advertise themselves.
Another popular marketing technique is to target a niche audience. Doing so will help your small business get recognition as an expert in a certain area.
For example, a bakery could market itself as specialising in wedding cakes as opposed to just selling regular baked goods.
6.Developing Local Partnerships With Complementary Businesses.
Some businesses network with other businesses that are not their direct competitors, but offer a complementary service or product.
Let’s take the example of the bakery that sells wedding cakes.
They could easily form a partnership with local florists that sell wedding bouquets and other decorative flower arrangements for weddings. This allows both businesses to share their customer base and grow their individual businesses.
7.Developing an Unforgettable Brand Name.
One of the ways a customer is going to remember your business is by your brand. This includes your brand name, logo, and signature recipes/ packages/ other services that you offer.
8.Creating a Mailing List or List of Customer’s Phone Numbers.
Some stores take customer’s details such as their names, contact information and important dates like their birthdays and anniversaries. This way they can reach out to them with special sales and offers, or even just wish them on their special days.
Constantly communicating with your local customers ensures that they remember you and visit your business again. Following up with your customers is a good strategy to grow your business.
Online Local Marketing
Online local marketing refers to the strategies employed by small businesses to develop a strong online presence for themselves.
With smartphones becoming a necessity, the potential for marketing through the internet is huge.
Everyone is on their phones today, constantly looking for the best places to eat or shop at. As a small business, there is one very important reason why you must focus on local marketing strategies – Google.
Google’s algorithm picks up a user’s location and presents information and directions to businesses that are physically closest to them.
This is why you need to make sure that your local SEO (search engine optimization) is on point.
Optimizing your website and promoting your business online should help you bring customers in through the doors again and again.
According to studies, people are highly likely to visit a store within 24 hours of finding the store’s contact details on Google.
Studies also show that a high percentage of people have made use of information they discovered through online ads that were shown to them on a Google search.
It is up to businesses to make full use of digital marketing tactics in order to attract new customers and expand their business.
Put yourself in your potential customers’ shoes and try to think of all the things they must be doing to find the products or services that you are selling. They may be looking for a business’s contact numbers, location, and reviews. Make sure that all that information is evident online.
It is very essential for any business, big or small, to have a strong online presence in the form of a website or a blog. Social media platforms are another indispensable tool to advertise your brand and what it stands for.
There are many different online channels that will help you reach your local community. If you are just beginning to venture into the world of online marketing, be sure to start with one channel and master it before you move onto the next.
There is no point in spreading yourself thin by trying out all the different digital marketing ideas and strategies out there and not utilizing their full potential.
Local online marketing is a vast topic, so let’s talk about each of these tactics one by one.
1.Your Business Website or Blog:
A website is an important part of your company’s brand name, so ensure that it is well designed, easy to skim through, contains all essential information (including Google map location of your store), and leaves a lasting impression on its visitors.
Customers are busy and are always looking for the quickest and easiest solutions to their problems.
Having a constantly updated website featuring all the products and services you offer is an easy way to entice customers to walk in to your store.
Update your blog every week with helpful information that can strategically convert browsers into readers and then turn those readers into customers.
Social media is where most people spend their free time.
There are many different social media platforms and as I said earlier, it is best to choose one and master it before you move onto the next.
Social media is free advertising (although you can pay for ads if you want to). If used effectively, it can turn out to be a great asset to your business.
Before you pick a social media platform to reach out to your target audience, you will need to understand where you potential customer typically hangs out.
There’s no point in being extremely active on a word-heavy platform such as Twitter when you own a fashion boutique and want to showcase your work. On the other hand, platforms like Facebook and Instagram would do you wonders, because that’s where your audience searches for fashion inspiration.
Study how your audience interacts with your posts by checking out the number of followers, reviews, shares, likes, and comments on a regular basis. This will also help you figure out how you can improve your business to cater to your audience better.
Engaging with your audience on social media helps boost trust and loyalty among your customers, because it shows them that you truly care about them.
Sure, you must have heard about search engine optimisation.
It simply means that you are optimising your online presence in such a way that search engines like Google can pull up your pages and show them to your target audience when they look for you.
Local SEO (search engine optimization) involves making sure that your business’ location is shown on the web so that Google can point local customers to you.
Adding just the right amount of appropriate keywords on your web pages will also help search engines pick you up. Remember that local customers are usually typing in your product/ service + location into Google to find you.
People are no longer confined to their desktops while searching for information online. They are mostly doing this on their phones on-the-go, while commuting to their workplaces or chilling on their couches.
It is super important for you to optimize your webpage for mobile devices so that you are easily accessible to potential customers.
5.Email List Building:
Not everyone who visits your website is willing to give away their email addresses for nothing. Be sure to offer exclusive discounts and other freebies to those who sign up to your company’s website. This will help you grow your email list so that you can start building a good customer relationship and start turning those browsers into buyers.
Never underestimate the power of good reviews and online testimonials.
Reach out to your local customers and ask them to leave you a review online. Good reviews of your business will help bring in more customers.
This is also why branding and customer relationships are very critical to your business.
Pro Tip: You can also share these reviews and testimonials on social media platforms to reach out to your audience.
The Importance Of Segmenting Your Target Market
It makes no sense to randomly target a general local audience. The trick is to narrow in on your target customer and cater to their needs.
Who is your ideal customer?
What is your business about?
Find the place where these two questions intersect to determine your marketing tactics.
Are you a local boutique that designs clothes exclusively for weddings? Then create an ambience that would attract brides-to-be. Advertise yourself as a wedding boutique that designs beautiful bridal gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses.
You will be able to greatly improve the quality of your customers if you know who you are serving.
Use Multiple Channels For Your Local Marketing Strategy
Offline and online marketing strategies are very different from each other. However, when implemented together, they can boost your business significantly.
Traditional forms of advertising such as newspapers and flyers are still effective. At the same time, building a strong online presence for your brand is crucial.
Test Out Different Local Marketing Tactics
Try out different marketing strategies, and keep a tab on how well each strategy is doing. This will allow you to invest more in the strategies that are working and bringing you more leads.
There is no point wasting time and effort in a popular local marketing strategy even though it is not bringing you your desired results.
Let’s recap the important aspects of local marketing you should incorporate in your business plan.
1.Choose Your Marketing Channels:
HOW do you want to reach out to your ideal customer?
What are the channels that you are going to use for your local marketing strategy?
Plan out your marketing strategy and test it to see what works and what doesn’t.
Invest more resources into the strategies that are working for your business and cut out all activities that are not bringing you returns.
2.Determine Your Ideal Customer:
WHO are you reaching out to?
What are their pain points?
What kind of products or services are they looking for?
Figure out what you can offer your customer so that they are kept satisfied.
This will greatly improve your word-of-mouth referrals and help increase your niche expertise.
3.Build Your Brand:
WHAT is the message that you want to communicate to your target audience?
You brand is the face of your company.
What can you do to make it better?
Remember that you are targeting a local audience, and make your brand as relevant and appealing to them as possible.
What is your favourite local marketing tactic?
Do you prefer offline marketing or digital marketing?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!