Operators of small businesses may find it somewhat problematic to refine their advertising campaigns. Perhaps your business will succeed to the point where you have citywide or even nationwide acclaim, or perhaps your measure of success is to establish a small business that can turn a comfortable profit by just serving your local community. So how exactly do you market yourself to the local community? Does the local community even contain a large amount of your target demographic? Some of these thoughts follow logic- so if for example, if you were considering opening an erotic DVD store, you wouldn’t do it in a neighborhood with a high proportion of young families; nor would you open a children’s party store in your city’s red light district. But what are some effective traditional and non-traditional methods to endear yourself to your local community? And why is it important?
What Is Your Definition Of Local?
Multinational corporations are likely to have a far different definition of what constitutes “local marketing” than your small business does. The McDonalds version of local marketing means that their menu offers different items per country; so for example, in New Zealand you can get the Kiwi Burger (which features beets and a fried egg); and in many Asian countries you can get the McProsperity Burger (which features pork served with a spicy black pepper sauce). Your definition of local is hopefully more specialized, truly knowing the community within a close proximity to your actual location, and becoming the first choice for local consumers when it comes to your product or service.
Goodbye Phone Book!
Not so long ago, small business owners were somewhat dependent on the alphabet for their success. If a consumer wanted a product or service, they would immediately flip through the yellow pages, and of course you’d want your business to be one of the first listings, so there were an abundance of companies called “Aaa Caterers” or “Aardvark Plumbers.” Thankfully, the rise of the Internet as our primary search tool has made this rather bizarre practice obsolete. While your popularity in a Google search for a specific product or service in a specific location can sometime depend on your proximity to the consumer doing the searching, there are ways to increase your popularity and consistently find yourself at the top of the search list.
SEO And Being Social
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is Google’s big secret. The precise way that a company/service/website finds themselves at the top of the pile of results is a closely guarded secret. However, there are some SEO methods that can be used to improve your position, although this is where it gets a tad complicated, and you should consider engaging the services of specialist in SEO practices, with the specific goal of bringing your company towards the top of the list when local residents (and even those who may have to travel for a while) search for your particular product or service. Also, you should never overlook the importance of social media, although you don’t really need to engage an expert for this. Most businesses should have a Facebook account, and perhaps also a Twitter presence, although whether you take the pragmatic approach (basic information about your company, with updates about special offers as they happen), or the “fun” approach (jokes, funny videos, etc) is entirely at your discretion- it just depends what you feel fits your company best. Also, don’t forget that consumers feel that Facebook and Twitter are viable forms of communication- so it’s important to regularly check these accounts and reply as needed. In this day and age, failing to reply to a Facebook post is like failing to call someone back.
The Old Fashioned Approach
Sometimes the tried and true methods are the best, although they’re truly only the best when combined with other more slightly advanced means of promotion (such as SEO). But everyone loves a party! A small street party with a BBQ and children’s entertainment goes a long way towards raising your profile within the local community. Make it memorable, and consumers will be likely to remember you when it comes time for them to need your particular product or service. Of course, for them to remember you, you need to ensure your business name is everywhere- on staff shirts; on outdoor vinyl banners; essentially whatever it takes to ensure that your local community remembers you…
Kate Simmons is a freelance writer on topics related to marketing, business development and technology.