Local Marketing – Improve ROI With These Local Marketing Strategies

Kristan Johnson
0

7Jan

2016

Today’s businesses often spend a large percentage of their marketing budget, if not all of it, online. The goal is to reach as many people as possible and that often takes a broad and generalised approach. If you want to attract everyone, you can’t be too specific with your marketing.

However, when this approach is taken, businesses usually miss the potential right in their own back yard. Sure, your business is online but your customers may be in or around your suburbs. And marketing to people in your area can be easier. Instead of trying to create tactics and strategies that appeal to the masses, you can create detailed and specific campaigns that hit home and attract attention.

In this report, we’ll take a look at the benefits of connecting with your local audience. We’ll also explore:

  • Why make a local connection? Reasons to market locally
  • Leveraging local marketing to build referral and word-of-mouth marketing
  • How and why to create a community connection
  • Leveraging social media for your local audience
  • Using reviews and local search to build your local community and customer base
  • How to use email to build your local customer base
  • Local mobile – what it is and why it can be effective

First, let’s take a look at some data that supports the potential of local marketing.

  • 2015 has seen a huge drive toward buying locally. We’re not just talking about food. Consumers became aware of their global footprint and the economic benefits of spending money in their own back yard.
  • “Buy Local” community groups popped up and local business felt a rebirth of sorts, as people turned back to their communities to buy. Five years later, people will still choose a local business when all other things like price and customer service are equal.
  • Local search functions on search engines and smartphone development mean that consumers are better able to identify local businesses. A study by Google showed that local search lead 50 percent of mobile users to visit local businesses and establishments.

Let’s look a bit more in depth at some reasons why it makes sense to market locally.

 

Why Make a Local Connection? Three Reasons to Market Locally

If you don’t have a local marketing strategy and you’re not taking steps to connect with your neighbors, you’re missing out. Online business can and does thrive when they market to their local customers. And it’s not just an increase in sales that matters. As we explore the benefits of local search, we’ll talk about word of mouth, media coverage and more.

Maybe you’re still thinking, “But I’m an online business, what on earth can local marketing offer me?” If so, here are three reasons to help you change your mind.

A Community Connection

We’ve already mentioned that many people prefer to spend their money locally. They know that it puts money back into the community, it creates jobs, and it reduces environmental by-products.

Additionally, people enjoy being proud of their community. When they buy from local business owners, they feel a sense of pride and connection. Marketing locally helps you not only tap into that sense of community, you can also help build it. You can get involved in your community in simple ways and really build your business.

We’re talking about things like sponsoring, participating in charity events, and other community support initiatives. When you create that connection, you also build your own business community. More people become aware of your business. They talk about you. They buy from you. Your business, and sales, grows.

A Relevant Audience

You know your audience, your global audience, well. You know who buys from you, why they buy from you, and the value that you have to offer. You know your customers well, too. Combine that information and you have the tools to create highly specific and effective marketing campaigns.

Many businesses fall into the trap of thinking that local marketing means local search terms and group coupons or mailers. Sure, you can use those tactics and you can use them effectively. But you can also use online tactics like email marketing, social media, content marketing and more.

When you create and implement local marketing efforts, you reach a more relevant audience.

Partnerships and Opportunities

When you market locally, you’re going to start making personal connections with people in your community. You’re going to meet other business owners. You’re going to meet local media representatives. You may also meet local government leaders.

These connections can be profitable. Here’s a simple example of what’s possible.

An online website developer meets the owner of a massage school. He (or she) learns that the students have a difficult time marketing themselves when they graduate. He thinks he can help with that by creating a custom website for them.

The massage school owner makes an introduction to the website developer at the end of the class. Students hire the website developer to get their massage business online and everyone wins. One simple conversation can lead to thousands of dollars in business. It can also lead to a new business model, partnerships and more.

Marketing to a local audience is smart business. It helps you accomplish much more than sales. You can reach new people, connect with them personally, and potentially expand your business into new areas.

How much time are you dedicating to your local audience? Online and offline businesses can benefit from local marketing.

Three More Reasons to Market Locally

We’ve talked about how local marketing helps you reach a relevant audience, that it builds a community and helps you make connections. We’ve also shown how local marketing can create opportunities through partnerships. Now let’s take a look at three more compelling reasons to add local to your marketing strategy.

New Marketing Tactics

Many businesses focus the majority of their efforts on social media, advertising, and email and content marketing. Those tactics are proven methods to market a business. With local marketing, you can embrace those tactics as well, and use them successfully. However, you’ll also likely find that local marketing can help you tap into new marketing tactics. These tactics include but certainly aren’t limited to:

  • Guest blogging with other local businesses
  • Reciprocal advertising
  • Local print ads. For example, your local schools always need sponsors for sports teams, drama programs, music and more. You can get ad space in their print materials and reach a new audience.

Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is alive and well and it thrives in local marketing. In addition to potentially getting referrals from the connections you make in your community, when you sell to a neighbor, they’re going to tell their neighbors.

They’ll likely share on social media as well. You can leverage word-of-mouth and referral marketing in a number of ways. Ask for the share or referral, create local pages on Google and social media, and start interacting with your community.

It’s Cost Effective

Advertising, creating content and marketing materials and even social media can cost money. They can quickly eat away at your marketing budget. In contrast, many forms of local marketing are free. It’s a cost-effective way to build your business.

If you’re looking for a way to build your business, consider stepping back from global or national marketing initiatives. Look closer to home. You’re going to find that marketing to your local customers and your community is budget friendly. It also creates opportunities and expands your audience while making sales.

Earlier we talked about the concept of local marketing and making connections in your community. We said that getting involved in the community can help you expand your business.

Next, let’s take a look at some ideas on how to get involved in your community and how to leverage that into business and sales.

 

Fostering a Community Connection

When you make connections within your community, it helps create opportunities for your business. You also establish some of the main triggers that motivate purchases. We’re talking about things like trust, likability, credibility and more. So how do you get out and make a connection in your community? Perhaps the following ideas will help you get started.

  • Local Schools – Your schools often ask parents and local businesses to sponsor their events. For example, the local Speech and Debate team may host a silent auction to raise money so they can go to their state competition.

You can get involved by donating something to their silent auction. Your business name will go on their Facebook page, you’ll reach and connect with parents of those students, and whoever wins your item at the auction will be able to enjoy your products or services.

  • Charities – Take a look at the charities in your community and look for ways to get involved. You can donate, host an event, sponsor an event, and more. You can then leverage your contribution by sharing information on your social media pages, blogging about the event and the charity, and by sharing pictures and images from the event.
  • Sports Teams – There’s a very good chance that your community has an abundance of youth sports teams. Soccer, t-ball, baseball, lacrosse, hockey… the list could go on and on. These teams need sponsors. It’s an opportunity to advertise, connect, and reach a bigger audience.
  • Fundraisers – There are people and groups in your community that need help. Help build awareness and attention to their need by promoting them within your community. For example, a family loses their house to a fire and cannot afford new belongings. Step in and rally the community to help them out. You make a strong impression on the community, market your business, and help people in need.

This short list is just the tip of the opportunity iceberg. Look for opportunities around you. Meet the people in your city and state and begin reaching out. When you create connections in your community and you foster those connections, you help build your brand. People think of you when they have a need, and they tell others about your business. It’s a win-win.

Speaking of your community connections telling others about your business, let’s explore that next. Let’s talk more about referral marketing and word-of-mouth marketing.

 

Leveraging Local Marketing to Build Referral and Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Imagine this. You’re out and about. You meet someone. You’re a marketing consultant with an online business that includes information marketing, consulting, and a few affiliate products. The person you meet is actively involved in the Chamber of Commerce. You talk. They think you might be a good person to come and speak at a Chamber meeting. Boom. You now have a captive audience and a room full of prospects.

One of those prospects goes into work the next day and mentions to their employees that they attended the event and heard you talk. One of the employees has a brother who owns a business and could use some marketing help.

The brother reaches out to you and you have a new customer. Now the brother raves about your service on social media. After his post, your website receives 100 new visitors, six inquiries, and three new customers.

You see how one local connection can spread and start a domino effect that builds your business?

That’s how word-of-mouth and referral marketing work, and at a local level it can be extraordinarily powerful. In fact, people are twice as likely to buy from a company that was referred to them from a peer. Many business owners also say that their best customers come from referrals and word of mouth.

You don’t have to wait for that happenstance meeting with an influential person in your community either. You can make it happen. The following are a few tips and ideas.

  • Join Networking Groups – You’re going to meet community leaders and influencers if you get out and shake hands with them on a regular basis. Everyone knows ten other people and your reach can expand quickly.
  • Ask for It – Ask your current local customers to help spread the word. Consider creating a local referral program. For example, “recommend me to a neighbor and get 10% off your next purchase.”
  • Become a Connector – Introduce people. Make connection for them. You meet someone who needs a graphic designer, introduce them to someone you know; a local designer would be great because then they can reciprocate.

Positon yourself as a listener and a problem solver. This helps you learn more about the needs of your audience. It also gives you an opportunity to make connections and help people solve their problems. They in turn will be more than happy to make connections for you and refer others to your products or services.

Finally, consider leveraging online review sites. Google Places, for example, can help you generate positive reviews. You can ask for the reviews and help build local word of mouth through an online tool. Speaking of leveraging online tactics, social media can play an important role in word-of-mouth and referral marketing. Let’s take a look at leveraging social media for your local audience.

Leveraging Social Media for Your Local Audience

Social media has a wide reach, right? Facebook says that they have almost 1.4 billion users. That’s a tremendous reach. Even if you only reached 1 percent of them, that’d be significant. The problem is that you won’t likely reach 1 percent of them. Why? Because only half of those users visit Facebook every day and when they do, they’re bombarded with hundreds of competing messages.

Does that mean you should stop marketing on social media? Absolutely not. It’s relatively inexpensive and it does produce results. However, what you may want to do is reconsider your approach. One great way to maximise social media is to build in very specific campaigns aimed at targeted markets – rather than marketing to the world, for example, you market to your community.

You can leverage the power of social media to reach a highly targeted and ready to buy local audience. Here are a few tips, ideas, and best practices.

  • Local Keywords – If you want local consumers to find you, it’s important to make it easy. Add keywords like your business name and location into your short and long page description.
  • Post about Local Events – Talk about your community on Facebook. Share events. Brag about your community, post options and editorial pieces, and attract other community members to your page.
  • Reward Local – Consider creating a campaign to drive locals to your social media pages. Give them an incentive. For example, you can create a local Facebook page. Enter all new “likes” into a drawing for free products or services.
  • Connect and Comment – Connect with other local business owners, customers, and community celebrities and leaders. Comment on their posts, share their news and get involved. They may reciprocate and begin commenting on and following your page too.
  • Embrace the #hashtag – When relevant, tag your posts and comments with local hashtags. It will help people find you and can create a sense of community.
  • Get Visual – People are more likely to share, like, and comment on social posts that are visual or contain visuals. Add photos to your posts. For example, are you sharing a post about the farmer’s market this weekend? Add a photo of the market as well.
  • Promote Your Posts – Facebook allows you to target your posts by choosing specific demographic data. There is a fee, so this is a tactic to use carefully and track your results. However, you can create specific posts and promotions and make sure that they get in front of the right people by choosing local demographic audience for your information.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and even Google Plus offer you valuable opportunities to connect with your local audience via social media. Leveraging this tool to reach a local market is relatively straightforward. Create a strategy and start connecting.

Another way to utilise online tools to build a local audience is through review sites like Yelp and Google Places. Let’s explore what that means and look at some best practices.

 

Using Reviews and Local Search to Build Your Local Community and Customer Base

Consumers tend to search online before they buy products or services. In many instances, review sites will show up at the top of the results. You don’t have to have a brick and mortar business to leverage local search and review sites. It’s another way to reach local customers and it requires just a little effort on your part.

How Do Local Search and Review Sites Work?

Here’s a simple example…imagine someone searches for a dentist from their couch at home. They will often see results for websites that offer dental care and services. They will also often see dentists that are available in their community. Under some of these local results you’ll see stars and reviews.

There is a very good chance they’re going to check out these local results and click on the link. When that local search result also comes with a handful of stars, even better. Those stars grab attention. But first you have to have an account that generates this type of search engine result.

Get Listed

There are only a few review sites that have impact right now. The first to consider is Google Places. You can head over to https://www.google.com/business/ and create your listing. It’s free.

Yelp is another big player. You may already be listed with them. Head over to https://biz.yelp.com/and check out if you’re listed. If not, add your business.

Make sure that your listing matches the exact same contact information that you have on your website. This is important because it improves your search results.

There may be other sites to consider depending on your industry. For example, Hi Pages is for contractors and home repair companies. It’s important to know that review sites do feed into one another. If you get a review on one site, it may show up on another. Simply make sure that you’re listed at least with Google.

Ask for Reviews

In order for this tactic to be effective, you want to start gathering positive reviews. Ask your customers to post reviews. Consider giving them an incentive. For example, you might send a new customer an email that gives them money off their next purchase and invites them to leave a review. You can even include a link to your Google Places page so all they have to do is click.

Share and Interact

Review sites can be interactive. You can thank people for their positive feedback and try to make amends with anyone who was unhappy. You can also share your reviews and feedback on social media. All of your activities should be directed toward building a positive image and a community of followers and supporters.

Most prospects check reviews (if they’re available) before they make a purchase. And people are more likely to buy if there are reviews. You can tap into this buying trigger and reach a local audience by capitalising on online business directories and reviews.

Reviews and local business directories are an easy marketing tactic to manage. Create your listing. Check in to the site at least once a week to see what others are saying about you. Interact, connect, and grow your business.

Email is one way that you can request that customers leave reviews, and it’s a great way to share positive feedback as well. In fact, email can be a fantastic tool for connecting with your local audience. We’ll look at that next.

Using Email to Connect with Your Local Prospects and Customers

Do you currently use email to market your business? Most online businesses rely heavily on the power of email marketing. It integrates nicely with social media, content marketing, and even referral marketing. It is, unfortunately, often overlooked when trying to connect with a local audience. But, email can actually be quite a powerful local connector.

Segmentation

Many top-tier autoresponders offer segmentation features. This means that you can segment or divide your email list up by demographic characteristics and behaviors. For example, you can send an email to everyone on your list that lives in Texas, or you can send a follow-up email to people who clicked on a link in your prior email. Segmentation means that you can send targeted emails to your local audience.

Multiple Lists

You can also create a specific email campaign to build a local list. For example, if your business is located in Kansas, you might offer a special offer to Kansas residents who sign up for your email list. You can tie it into a state celebration or a team win to attract attention to your offer. Now you have a designated list of locals who you can create targeted marketing campaigns for.

Use Social Media

Leverage social media to build your list. In fact, you can create a list-building campaign right on your Facebook page.

Send Them Emails They Care About

When emailing your local list, it’s important to make sure they feel special and valued. Consider creating promotions just for your local audience. Again, you can tie these promotions into events that are going on in your community. You can also email about news and information they care about. Share your insights about community events and news. Ask questions and get your email audience involve.

A Call to Action

Finally, make sure that your emails include a call to action. If you want to generate a conversation on Facebook, then send a link to your Facebook post and invite comments and thoughts. If you want to drive traffic to a sales page, then invite them to visit the page and include the link.

Email marketing has a long-standing reputation for being an effective marketing tactic. As technology continues to evolve, you can leverage new email marketing features and tactics to make it even more powerful. Segment, build new lists, and create an online community of local customers and prospects.

It’s important to keep in mind that small steps in local marketing can often reap large results. Connecting with the right people in your community can expand brand awareness nationwide.

For example, you might connect with a local customer and build a relationship. They may be the parents of an NRL football player. They talk to their son. Their son mentions your company on social media, and boom.

Now maybe an NRL football player isn’t the type of influence that you need. The point is that influential people are just people. They have connections. They know people and they talk.

Simple local marketing efforts build awareness and increase opportunities, and ultimately they can build a business. At the most basic and fundamental level, when you connect with local customers and prospects, you make sales and that means profits.

Let’s take a look at one more tactic that you can use to attract and leverage a local market.

Why Garnering Local Media Attention Pays Off

You have a local newspaper, right? You probably also have local magazine publications and radio stations. Do you know the people who work at these outlets? Have you ever interacted with them? Connecting with local media can, and often is, the first step to larger scale media coverage.

Build Relationships

If you want to get coverage on large state and national media outlets, consider starting in your own back yard. Connect with local media reps and begin building relationships with them. Connect with them on social media. Learn where they hang out and introduce yourself. Work to become a valuable asset to them. For example, a local radio talk show host may post questions for their audience on social media. Become active with their page. Offer insight and information.

Learn What They Want

As you build a relationship, learn what their audience needs, wants, and responds to. Explore your business and how you might offer value. Pitch ideas for stories to local media representatives.

Beyond Local Coverage

The media moves quickly. If you are covered by a local media outlet, leverage it for all its worth. Share the coverage on social media. Get your prospects and customers talking about it. And connect with larger media outlets to pitch similar ideas. Your recent coverage fresh in their minds, you may be able to turn a small story into national coverage.

Have a Plan

Connecting with local media can grow to something larger. It all begins by connecting with media representatives right in your own back yard. It’s important to be ready to take action. When a local rep runs a story on you, you want to be prepared for it to grow. Create a media plan and kit.

Your media kit might include:

  • Photos of company managers, leaders, and staff
  • Bios of company managers, leaders, and staff
  • Videos – these can include product demonstrations and informational videos
  • Social media URLs
  • Testimonials and reviews – in some instances brief case studies can be useful as well
  • Awards and acknowledgments
  • Notable clients and celebrity endorsements
  • History – who are you, what do you do, what is your vision and mission?
  • Product/service description
  • Contact information
  • Press releases

Having a kit of this information can help you be ready when the press comes calling. You won’t have to scramble to give them what they need. You’ll be prepared and in position to leverage media coverage for all it’s worth.

If you’re not spending time courting your local audience, you’re probably missing out on profits and opportunities. Everyone knows someone and you probably have influential people right in your community. Get out, meet people and make connections. Leverage the power of online and offline marketing tactics to build your local audience and build your business.

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