Running a local business is hard. Your potential market is smaller, your competition from large shopping centres & superstores is obvious and of course, online commerce is fierce. But all that said it doesn’t mean running a successful high street business is impossible, on the contrary, the combined annual turnover of SMEs was £1.8 trillion, 47% of all private sector turnover in the UK [citation].
What small businesses need to do first and foremost is to establish brand awareness and be known and then focus on building brand loyalty. Paying attention to the needs of the community, the local customer and other local businesses is what differentiates local businesses from the big faceless superstores and shopping centres.
People still like to shop local and support local, and as a small business owner you’re already living and breathing your business and you should have a clear vision of how you plan to find, engage, reward and retain your local customers but having a clear marketing strategy is a sticking point as only 56% of small businesses in US actually have one [citation].
So with that in mind, I’ve compiled 11 sound local business marketing tips and recommendations from some of the best and most authoritative websites on the net. At Leadify my aim is to help my readers and clients succeed in online marketing, if you want to have a chat (no sales, I promise) about your business and how my contest marketing as a service can help your business to grow feel free to jump on a call with me.
Now then, on to the ideas:
1. Seriously. Get listed on local online directories, as many as you can. Here’s 50 from Hubspot to get you going.
As a local business, attracting new customers can be a major challenge. Quickly disappearing are the days when people go to the Yellow Pages to find local businesses. Today, people are turning to the internet as a way to find trusted business recommendations.
One way local businesses can get found is through inclusion in online directories. Adding a listing to these online directories is easy, but if you only list in a few, you’re really missing a huge opportunity to get found by online searchers.
– via blog.hubspot.com
2. Think about cross-promotion partnerships with other local businesses. Who could you partner with that would help BOTH your businesses?
There are some compelling reasons why businesses should team up and work together; they can reduce costs by sharing resources, improve the service they offer to their customers, and boost their promotional power by entering into a joint marketing arrangement.
In the case of the latter, promoting other companies’ products and services can be a cost effective way for small businesses to grow, reducing the marketing budget involved, while increasing marketing exposure, and ultimately, sales. The key to a successful joint venture lies in choosing the right organisation to work with, and being clear about what is expected of both parties.
– via the Guardian
3. Run loyalty programs. Here’s 20 Loyalty Reward apps to have a look at.
Using an automated rewards app is one of the best ways for small businesses to easily set up a loyalty program to reward long-term customers. For example, you can offer discounts, coupons, cash back, gift cards, points or freebies personalized to a group of customers (people who have bought a specific product) or to an individual customer (birthday gift or reward for reaching a certain level). You can also offer rewards to new customers through listings and geo-targeting.
– via SEO Software | Inbound Marketing Software | UpCity
4. Do not overlook this one. Set up a website (Use WordPress NOT on Wix!)
Even if you are trying to market locally, most people look for local businesses online, using Google or other search engines. Have a website with details about your services, contact information and directions to your store.
– via wikiHow
5. Not as expensive as it might sound but sponsoring local community events is a great way to show your community spirit.
Local events and sponsorships allow companies to give back while building personal relationships with their communities and customers. Of the integrated marketing campaigns that Brandmuscle looked at, 46 percent included community sponsorship and 44 percent included a local event. According to the survey, these sponsorships and events were among the most frequently used marketing tactics, with three of four respondents using these methods for their businesses.
The survey suggested that companies invest more of their marketing dollars in sponsorships and events to build up their brand presence.
– via Business News Daily
6. Don’t hold back. Time to really engage with your customers on social media – just remember you’re creating a dialogue with them.
Most local businesses don’t realize how crucial social media is and the impact it has from a marketing standpoint. More than 700 million people visit Facebook every day and it’s becoming a powerhouse in the advertising space. If you aren’t incorporating social media into your local business’ marketing plan, you’re holding your business back and letting your competitors get ahead.
– via www.socialvantage.com
7. Run a competition – sweepstake giveaway, or a referral campaign where you award customers for sending their friends to you (very effective!).
Run a competition so you can gather contact details. You could do this on your own or team up with a local paper or trade magazine.
If you can’t afford a prize outright see how your suppliers, partners or a complementary business could help you share the prize value. Think about how to get value from the competition for your business, for example capturing email addresses you can use in email marketing.
– via Talented Ladies Club
8. Focus on getting online reviews. You might not even know this but you might be listed on Yelp, Scoot, Hotfrog, Foursquare and probably on Google+ (if not get listed!)
Don’t believe that online reviews are important to your business? Although it may be hard to believe, 88% of consumers trust online reviews at much as they do a personal recommendation. Want more? Check this out:
72% of consumers trust a local business more based on positive online reviews
88% of consumers read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business
Many small businesses ignore this aspect of marketing for fear of bad reviews. However, it’s critical to acknowledge the fact that potential clients will read online reviews, and those online reviews will impact their decision. Hopefully, we convinced you that acquiring online reviews is important.
– via Purely Branded – Cleveland Web Design and Development
9. It might sound complicated but local SEO is a key differentiator for your website to perform well in local search.
More and more searchers (especially on mobile devices) are looking for local businesses. Local SEO can help your business stand out in the SERPs. Learn how to use local ranking factors like name, address and phone number (NAP) and customer reviews to rise to the top of organic results and even get featured in the carousel. If you’re newer to local SEO, you might want to visit the Local Learning Center to learn what local search marketing is, if it’s a good fit for your business, and best practices. Below you’ll find the most recent posts from the Moz Blog. In addition, we’ve selected a few quality resources that deserve particular attention.
– via moz.com
10. Think locally & act locally. Be relevant to your community.
Local relevance – to the extent that they are able to, retailers need to get grounded in and familiar with the communities they operate within. This gives rise to marketing and outreach ideas that organically make sense for the people in those communities.
– via Retail Marketing Blog – Retail News, Trends, Store Tips, and More by Shopify
11. Create customer avatars (profiles) and build a promotion / marketing campaign around them.
Do you know what traits are shared by your three best customers? If not, it will be difficult to target the people most likely to be your most profitable customers. Find out everything you can about your very best customers to develop a customer profile; then, target your mailing lists to reach those who match those demographics. Once you have your best customers down, you can create multiple customer profiles for different types of customers for targeting purposes.
– via Vertical Response Blog
That’s the marketing ideas for local businesses round up, what do you think? Have I missed something? Feel free to let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook or Twitter channels.