Local Marketing Strategies for Success
Local marketing is an essential element of a larger marketing strategy for small businesses, as it can get your brand in front of a broader local audience that are likely to patronize your business in the near future. But what can you do as an entrepreneur to improve your small business’s reach with a local audience? This guide includes seven quick, free tips that can immediately improve your local marketing strategy.
Local marketing targets an audience based in the same town or region as your business. It is geared toward people who are within a certain radius of your physical location – generally based on a reasonable driving distance – who might realistically purchase your product or service at any time.
For example, if you run a restaurant in Red Bank, New Jersey, driving website traffic from Sacramento, California, is not going to do you much good. Instead, you need to employ local marketing tactics to ensure that the majority of your audience is indeed located near enough that they could conceivably drive to your restaurant or order delivery.
“The biggest approach people should be taking is really understanding who they’re trying to sell to … what benefit people can get from the product or service, and then relay that information upfront,” said Travis McKnight, senior content strategist at Portent Inc.
That’s true in all marketing, but especially when it comes to a local marketing strategy, he added. Part of the key information you should relay to your audience is where your business is located.
The goal behind a local marketing strategy is to spend your marketing and advertising budget more efficiently. Digital marketing is an effective tool for businesses of all sizes. However, if you are a local business and you fail to gain traction with a local audience, your marketing expense is all for naught. Not all traffic is created equal; a local marketing strategy ensures that you are targeting an audience that might patronize your business.
Key takeaway: Local marketing targets people within a certain radius of your business. It can improve conversion rates by narrowing the focus of your digital marketing efforts to potential nearby customers.
What is small business marketing?
No matter how big or small your business, the core principles of marketing are the same. Of course, a small business tends to have fewer resources and smaller budgets than a corporate behemoth.
- Brand strategy. This answers the questions: What is your company’s identity, who does it exist for, and what makes it different from competitors? This is the foundation of all marketing efforts, as it defines your company relative to the market.
- Content. This is what your company wants to say about itself, its products, and perhaps the world. Content can take many forms: from an Instagram post to a blog post to a billboard.
- Advertising. This is one of the ways you get your brand and your content out into the world. It could include bidding on strategic keywords in a search engine marketing strategy, promoting social media posts to reach new audiences, or paying for a pre-roll ad slot on a podcast.
- Social selling. Small business owners can build a network and a trusting relationship among an existing or prospective customer base by using social selling techniques. Rather than pushing products to customers, you focus on building a trusting relationship with your customers, which may eventually lead to sales. You do this primarily by facilitating discussions and interactions with you (and by extension, your brand) over social media or through casual social gatherings.
- Public relations campaigns. This is an effort to get your company or product mentioned in the media. You might send a press release to hopefully inspire a news outlet to cover your business and perhaps conduct an interview with you or members of your team. News interest in your brand can come from a variety of sources beyond a press release, however, such as a campaign going viral, for example.
- Customer acquisition. Customer acquisition is the bottom of the marketing funnel—you know who your customers are, they’re interested in you, and you just have to get them over the finish line to make a purchase. For an ecommerce business, you can optimize your product page for sales, making sure the important purchasing information is clearly visible with clear images and a prominent purchasing button. You could use A/B testing, where you give two sets of customers two different page designs or messages to see which performs better. You can make sure your checkout flow is easy, seamless, and safe—customers have multiple options for payment, including things like Shop Pay or Apple Pay, so customers don’t have to input their credit card information.
- Customer retention. Once you have your customer, retention is the act of keeping them as customers—by having them ideally buy your product or service again and again. Marketers use reengagement efforts, like an email newsletter or push notifications. These act as reminders to customers that your company exists and often include a call to action, such as acting on a current sale. You can also improve the interactions your customers have with your company by improving your customer service—reducing response times to queries or ensuring that customers get to speak with a human and not a robot. The ultimate goal of a small business’s marketing efforts is gaining new customers—ideally customers who will remain loyal for many years.
How to effectively market your small business
- Describe your goods and services in your own terms. Begin your marketing efforts by writing up descriptions of the products or services that you offer. Think about what value they bring to your target audience or what problems they solve . Brainstorm what makes your offerings so great, and write about them earnestly. This will provide a framework for how you will market your product to the public.
- Assess the competition. Unless you have invented a product from scratch, there’s a good chance you’ll have competitors. Take note of how they market their goods. Are they mostly using digital marketing tools? Have they dug into social media marketing? Do they engage in influencer marketing , where a famous online celebrity endorses their products? What language do they use to describe their products? Pay equal attention to what they’re selling and how they’re selling it.
- Determine your unique sales proposition. A unique sales proposition, or USP, is the trait that your business has that makes it stand out from the pack. Now that you know your competition, decide how you will differentiate yourself in the eyes of your target audience . Perhaps you will beat your competitors on price, or on product quality.
- Set your marketing budget. Lay out all of the expenses associated with your marketing plan, and consider how to best allocate your dollars across them. You’ll likely need people and tools, plus an advertising budget. You might also want to allocate free products for influencers, or budget to have a presence at a live event.
- Plan and begin your campaigns. Having established a budget and marketing plan, it’s time for you to plan and launch your campaigns. Depending on your budget, you can make these campaigns diverse, with a mix of paid digital advertising (web-based ads, paid social media posts , influencer marketing), traditional advertising (radio, TV, print ads, billboards), social selling (person-to-person engagement on social media platforms), and content marketing ( blog posts , podcasts, explainer videos).
- Track results and make adjustments. Not every marketing effort succeeds. Stand at the ready as you see which marketing messages land—and which don’t—and which channels work best. Marketing is not a “set it and forget it” proposition. It requires continual monitoring and adjustments as you learn more about your target audience , its media consumption, and its spending habits.
- Use content marketing to build organic web traffic. Content marketing requires a lot of work up front, but once you invest in creating a great piece of content, it can live on forever. You can build up a following on YouTube by creating genuinely useful videos about your product or industry that would interest your target audience. Blog posts that answer questions people are searching on Google can bring organic inbound traffic to your website.
- Word of mouth is your friend. When you’re starting out and don’t have a lot of customers, call on your loved ones to get the word out about what you do. Word of mouth marketing relies on organic conversations and engagement with or about your company, such as those that happen on social media (likely your main driver of word of mouth) or those that happen in real-life interactions. According to Nielson, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, so you can take advantage of this by building your social media presence, starting a hashtag campaign around your brand, or having friends act as ambassadors for your company.
- Create a unified image for your brand. Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a professional brand consultant, you can still use your internal resources to create a unified look for your company. This includes a logo, a color scheme, a font set, a slogan, and a fixed description for your offerings. In addition to creating an aura of professionalism, this process will help you with integrated marketing efforts, where the goal is to have a consistent look and message across all of your marketing channels.
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5 Questions Answered on Small Business Marketing Strategy
Figuring out a marketing strategy when you’re the owner of a small business can seen daunting. Once you have a foundation, we can start to dig a little deeper. Here are 5 important questions on marketing for small businesses, answered:
First, large companies believe that they can be known for something, but their egos get in the way when they only talk about themselves. Small companies are often better able to maintain the important focus on customers and become known as true thought leaders in their space. We help SMBs to craft customer-focused mission statements to guide their strategy.
Second, small companies have less technical infrastructure. We’ve seen them out maneuver their larger peers with better customer experiences on their website, more authentic and engaging content and more interaction on social media.
Third, smaller companies also tend to have more passionate employees who are willing to create engaging content, interact on social, and even drive referrals for customers and new recruits. SMBs should identify this strength early on and focus on employee and customer engagement as part of their marketing strategy.
Fourth, retention is the secret to a high ROI Marketing strategy. In larger companies, working closely with existing customers can become secondary to driving growth. SMBs face similar pressure for different reasons. But the math behind the growth engine is different for SMBs. They need growth with lower investment. Customer Retention programs are the best way to achieve high ROI with little investment.
Today’s customers and buyers are always searching online for information, education and solutions to their problems. The smart marketers are creating always-on programs to answer this need. That includes educational and non-promotional thought leadership, activating employees in content creation and social engagement, and then creating and testing the right paths to conversions.
Wildly successful marketing programs are always running. They are always testing the right content or message. They are always tweaking the audience filters and targeting parameters. They are always optimizing the visual elements of the program. And they are always testing conversion paths. Being always on is the key.
SMBs can sometimes be so desperate to deliver on the sales or lead goals, that we focus too much on the last stage of the buying process. Marketing programs should match the buying process as much as possible.
On average, for every 1 customer, there are 100 people in the early stages of the buying journey. These are people who know they have a problem but are not even sure what the solution is. Explain it to them and why it’s important (no product yet)!
We live in a digital world where it’s relatively easy to see what your customers need at each stage of their journey. We can simply use Google auto-fill or related searches to tell us what content to create. If I’m selling content marketing strategy services, I know that people want content marketing strategy tools, templates and examples because Google auto-fill or related searches told me that’s what most people are searching for.
Once you’ve created a list of topics, you can group them into categories and use Google Trends to tell you which categories of content and topics are more important for your customer journey relative to each other.
We can use other tools to tell us what questions we should be answering with our content at each stage of the buyer journey, and which channels are most important to our customers. For B2B businesses, LinkedIn might be the place to be. But if you’re in fashion, for example, you have to be on Instagram. Don’t leave these decisions up to your gut. We can quantify the impact of each of these approaches.
Finally, we need to measure our efforts. Are you showing up on the first page for the search terms your customers are using at each stage of the buyer journey? Identify the top 15-20 search terms your customers use across their journey and track your visibility or position relative to your competition. And remember that online, your competition might be an online publication or a mommy blogger.