Running a local business is difficult. While you might have less competition than a national brand, you also have a smaller potential market and (generally) less funds to spend on marketing. Still, people run thriving local businesses every day. There’s no reason why you can’t do the same — especially if you implement the local marketing ideas we outline below!
Keep reading to learn 15 unique ways to effectively promote your local business, grow your customer base, and improve your revenue numbers.
1. List Your Business in Local Directories
Before the internet, most people discovered new businesses via the Yellow Pages. These days, people simply pull out their phones and search the web for local restaurants, shops, and service providers to patronize.
With this in mind, one of the best (and easiest!) ways to attract new customers is to get your local business included in local directories.
A local directory is a list of businesses, within a specific industry, category, or niche, that can be found and accessed online. Many consumers view local directories in order to find companies in their region that sell the products or services they’re looking for.
Check out this list of local directories from HubSpot to get started.
2. Focus on Getting Great Reviews
Reviews are incredibly important to the online buying experience. This is especially true for businesses trying to reach younger consumers between the ages of 18 and 34. 91% of this demographic trusts online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
You may be tempted to ignore this local marketing idea for fear of receiving negative reviews. But having no reviews is often more detrimental than getting the occasional poor one.
As long as your business provides a quality product and a great customer experience to your target market, you shouldn’t have to worry about receiving less than stellar reviews. And the positive reviews you do receive will greatly benefit your organization.
3. Pay Attention to Local SEO
Does SEO give you night sweats? We understand, the subject of search engine optimization (SEO) is complex. Many small business owners would rather pretend it doesn’t exist than try to understand it. But this is a mistake!
A local SEO strategy is essential to getting discovered online by consumers in your region. Fortunately, we’ve created a guide to help you get it right for your business. But if you’re short on time, here are a few things to keep in mind regarding your local SEO strategy:
- Use Google My Business (GMB)
- Nail Your Name, Address, Phone (NAP)
- Know Your Top Keywords
- Invest in Mobile
If you keep these four tips in mind — as well as implement a few of the local marketing ideas we mention in this post — you should be able to design a quality local SEO strategy.
4. Develop a Referral Program
Word of mouth is the oldest form of marketing. It’s also one of the most effective, even today. You can kick word of mouth marketing into high gear for your company by developing a referral program that rewards your customers for sharing the word about your business.
The rewards you give could include a discount on future services, free products, gift cards to other local establishments, or anything else your target market would appreciate.
Developing a referral program is an especially useful local marketing idea because it keeps current customers coming back for more, while helping promote your business to brand new people who could use the products and services you have to offer.
5. Implement Email Marketing
Email is one of the best ways to communicate with your target audience. In fact, recent studies show that email marketing has an average ROI of 4,200%. Which means that every dollar invested in email marketing should bring back $42 in return!
But how do you use email to connect with local patrons? That’s easy. You could write a monthly newsletter that includes relevant updates about both your business and the community, send your list discount offers, or promote the blogs and other content you create.
The key to great email marketing is value. Just make sure that whatever you send your list will be valuable to them and you almost can’t go wrong.
6. Build Relationships on Social Media
Just about every business owner knows that they can use social media to connect with their customers. But too many people use Facebook, Instagram, and the other social platforms to make announcements rather than generate conversations.
It’s not wrong to announce a new product or blog post on social. In fact, you should! But if that’s all you use these networks for, you’re missing out on their main benefits.
Ask your followers questions and respond to their comments. Take advantage of user generated content and repost pictures of your audience using your products. Do what you can to really engage your following on social media and build relationships with them.
7. Jump on the SMS Marketing Trend
Email and social media strategies are fantastic local marketing ideas. Both will allow you to better connect with your target market, build relationships, and sell more products and/or services. But there’s another great way to reach your customers: SMS.
SMS stands for short message service and refers to text messages. By texting your audience (with their permission, of course), you can achieve amazing results, such as:
While it’s not guaranteed that you’ll achieve the above stats, it does go to show you what’s possible with SMS marketing. If you can get anywhere near these metrics for your local business, you’ll be able to sell a lot more products and services!
8. Invest in Local Advertising Campaigns
There are a lot of ways to advertise your local business. You could, for example, run a radio ad or pay to have your company logo on a high-traffic billboard. You could also use digital strategies and invest in a Facebook or Google Adwords campaign.
Digital advertisements are great because they allow you to target extremely specific audiences — something you can’t really do with a radio commercial or billboard.
If you know that your ideal buyer is female, between the ages of 34 and 56, works as a stay at home mom, and has a household income of less than $100k a year, you can target that exact persona with a well crafted digital advertisement. This will lead to higher conversion rates!
Take a look at all of the local advertising campaigns available to you. Then evaluate your budget, decide which strategies you can afford to invest in, and create a winning campaign.
9. Host an Event in Your Area
Here’s another local marketing idea: host an event in your area. The kind of event you host will depend on the type of business you run and the unique customers you serve.
If you own a restaurant, you could host a pie eating contest and award the winner with free lunches for a month. Or you could host a business meetup and invite a bunch of local business owners to your establishment in order to network. Both ideas will get people in the door and allow you to showcase your restaurant to folks who haven’t dined on your food yet.
Alternatively, you could sponsor a local event instead of hosting your own. This will allow you to get your business in front of new potential customers without the stress of event planning.
10. Sponsor a Local Sports Team
Sponsoring a sports team in your area is a great local marketing idea. The kind of team you sponsor is totally up to you. For example, your business could sponsor your kid’s little league team or the local high school’s water polo team.
If you live in a big city and have the funds, you may even consider sponsoring a college or professional sports team. While costly, this strategy will get your business in front of the largest audience and could provide great ROI.
Maybe a sports sponsorship doesn’t fit your brand. Don’t give up on this idea! You could also sponsor a local theater troupe, charity event, or concert series.
11. Look For Public Speaking Opportunities
Most people detest public speaking. But if you don’t mind talking in front of a group of people for 30 minutes to an hour, this can be a great way to promote your local business.
Get in touch with regional event organizers, rotary clubs, and community organizers and ask them about speaking opportunities. If you can fill this role, you’ll have the chance to market your company to a group of attentive people who might just become customers in the future.
12. Promote a Fun Contest or Competition
You know what everybody loves? Free stuff! That’s why promoting a contest or competition or with a great grand prize is a fantastic local marketing idea.
Think of a fun challenge that relates to your business. If you own a local bike shop, you could host a race, for example. Then think of a grand prize that your target audience would love to have. Maybe you offer a brand new bicycle to the winner of your race. Next, collect the contact information of everyone who enters your competition.
Once the contest is over, you’ll have a pile of new people to contact in the future about sales, new products, fresh content, or anything else you think they might enjoy.
What if you don’t have the funds to offer an amazing grand prize? Try teaming up with other local businesses. That way you can pool your resources and make the competition even better. We’ll talk more about partnerships at the end of this article.
13. Take Advantage of Call-Only Ads
A call-only ad is an ad that encourages people to call a business. They only appear on devices that can make phone calls. When the ad is clicked, a call is automatically made.
If you and your team often sell or move prospects farther down the pipeline using the telephone, this is definitely one of the local marketing ideas you should consider. Call-only ads will help you get more prospects on the phone and avoid the cost of expensive landing pages.
Be careful, though. You might receive calls from a large number of unqualified prospects if your ad copy isn’t up to snuff when using this strategy.
14. Create a Direct Mail Campaign
Is direct mail still relevant? With email, social media, SMS advertising, digital advertisements… Does sending physical letters in the mail still work? The short answer: yes, absolutely. But you have to use this strategy properly or you’ll waste your money — quickly.
To run a successful direct mail campaign, keep these things in mind:
- Know your customer
- Have a great offer
- Include a compelling CTA
- Follow Up post mailing
- Optimize your approach
For more information on how to use direct mail effectively, check out this in-depth post by Nutshell. It will give you all the details you need to find success with this strategy.
15. Partner With Other Local Businesses
Finally, we encourage you to partner with other local businesses and co-promote your companies. Doing so will reduce marketing costs, while automatically introducing your brand to a wider audience.
The way you partner could be up to you. You could, for example, host an event together, or run a joint marketing campaign, or create special packages that allow customers to get both your products and your partner’s offerings at the same time for a reduced rate.
The key to succeeding with this local marketing idea is to choose the right partners. Don’t partner with every other local business you meet. Choose to work with brands who hold similar values and serve a similar audience to your company.
Improve Your Local Marketing Efforts
By implementing the local marketing ideas outlined above, you’ll be able to effectively promote your business to the customers in your region. We encourage you to read back through the list and choose the ideas that best suit your unique organization. Then use them!
What do you think? Did we miss any important local marketing ideas? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!