It’s a modern-day truth that getting to grips with local marketing is essential, particularly for new businesses.
While the internet has successfully made the world a lot smaller, it’s also brought along its own set of problems like language barriers and prohibitively expensive international shipping.
Building a name for your business locally, whether by word-of-mouth, paid advertisements or organic social media (more on those later!), is particularly beneficial when you have a physical presence like a bricks and mortar store. However, it can also be a big boon for online businesses as well.
Here are my top five local marketing methods for local marketing newbies as well as a few tips on how to get started with each one.
1. Local SEO
SEO is awesome for a number of reasons: the number one reason being that it enables even the smallest companies with small or non-existent budgets to generate business without spending a dime.
However, when it comes to local marketing, it also has a significant problem associated with it…
Ranking for a term like ’boutique flowers’ is nice but it’s not helpful if 90% of that search traffic happens to be coming from Germany and you’re based in Birmingham.
In this respect, it’s way too easy to get caught up in vanity metrics when measuring SEO results.
Terms like ‘Birmingham flower company’ or ‘flowers in Birmingham’ may not generate such an impressive number of monthly hits, but they’ll ultimately generate far more helpful traffic for your business.
You could also think about creating individual pages – perhaps case studies of events you’ve been a part of or using testimonials from happy customers to avoid looking too ‘copy paste-y’ – for towns, cities or villages that are close to where you operate from. Oh, and positive Google reviews certainly won’t hurt your rankings.
Bonus Tip: Be sure to find a way to differentiate between locations with the same name on your site. After all, ‘flowers in Birmingham, Alabama’ and ‘flowers in Birmingham, England’ are two very different search terms.
2. Social Media
I’m not going to be condescending enough to explain what a hashtag is, but I will point out that many areas have hashtags dedicated to local businesses just in case you didn’t know that already!
NW Design has a solid list of active hashtags, but you can always do some digging to find your own as well.
Look for hashtags like #NorthEastHour and #CheshireHour, both at their most active between 8-9PM on Monday nights, on Twitter. You’ll find both companies and potential customers chatting about services on offer in the area.
As with any promotion on social media, a light touch is required here to avoid coming across as too sales-y. Pursue interactions that have value for both you and your customers.
Think about things like:
- Offers and promotions
- A behind-the-scenes of your business
- Partnership opportunities
- Influencer outreach
If you go in with all guns blazing – ‘WE’RE FROM YORKSHIRE, NOW BUY OUR STUFF!’ – it’s very unlikely you’ll be met with a positive reaction.
3. Mobile apps
When you think of local marketing, you might not immediately think about creating an app. But as you’ll see in this post that I wrote, failing to capitalize on the advantages that a mobile app can offer could be a big fail for your marketing strategy.
From geo-targeted notifications to loyalty schemes and in-app payments (which are often much smoother and more cleanly integrated than those made on mobile sites thanks to services like 1-Click Ordering), there are a multitude of ways in which a mobile app can help boost your local business’ sales.
Image Source: Apptimize
Hiring a developer to create an app certainly can be costly, but that doesn’t mean it has to be. Our drag-and-drop app builder at the App Institute enables you to do all of the above without the need to write a single line of code.
4. Paid ads
Thanks to Facebook’s obsession with tracking every detail about its users (hooray for the erosion of privacy!), companies no longer have to rely on a scattergun approach when it comes to taking out advertising on social media.
Running Facebook Ads that are targeted to users in a particular area is incredibly simple. Facebook Business actually has a really solid guide on how to set everything up. It’s easy to measure, too.
Don’t forget to highlight the relevant geographical area in your ad so users know you’re in the neighbourhood!
Image Source: Facebook Business
You can also run ads and promotions via Google Adwords and TripAdvisor using your location. This means you only pay to put your brand in front of people who will really be able to pay you a visit.
Bonus Tip: This is particularly useful for boosting short-term promotions, such as a limited lunchtime deal, if you’re looking for a way to start the ball rolling.
5. Offline flyering
Just because certain methods of marketing aren’t new and shiny doesn’t mean that they can’t be valuable to your business. Exchanging flyers with local businesses, or paying someone to give them out door-to-door, can end up being a really smart business move.
There’s a reason why it’s the main form of marketing for so many pizza shops and Chinese restaurants. These days, more and more people are committed to buying local, so it can be a huge boost if you have a proven physical presence somewhere. Otherwise, you might have to rely on highlighting that you’re ‘proudly made in X’ on your website for it to have any impact.
While it’s true that traditional methods of advertising like word-of-mouth and local networking are hard to scale, simply asking customers where they heard about you – by perhaps adding an optional drop-down menu in your order process – is a great way to get some valuable insights into how your local marketing approach is doing.
Local marketing may not be as glamorous as international marketing campaigns, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not an important part of building a successful business.
I’ve written in previous blog posts about the mindset of ‘live global, buy local’, and it’s one that more and more people are subscribing to in 2017.
Targeting a local audience doesn’t mean that you can’t do all of that cool international stuff as well – but it’s important to establish yourself as part of a community. You could even sponsor a local sports team or set up at a community market.
The tips above should give you a good idea of where to start, but keep in mind that local marketing opportunities vary greatly from area to area. Successfully promoting yourself in a rural town will look very different to doing the same thing in a big city, for example.
Don’t be afraid to get out there, hit the streets and see what’s working!
Guest Author: Ian Naylor is the founder and CEO of AppInstitute, one of the world’s leading DIY App Builders (over 70,000 apps built). Naylor has founded, grown and sold 4 successful internet and technology companies during the past 18 years around the world. He gives seminars as an expert authority on startup mobile app trends, development, and online marketing and has spoken at numerous industry events including The Great British Business Show, Venturefest, the National Achievers Congress and numerous industry exhibitions around the UK.