Local Marketing Strategy
The platform has shifted, but the strategy remains, marketing on a local level is the bread and butter for most businesses.
Local marketing is nothing new, in 1886, Reuben H. Donnelly created the first Yellow Pages directory featuring business names and phone numbers, categorized by the types of products and services provided (R.H. Donnelly prints the yellow page directories for Quest & Sprint). In 1909, St. Louis produced the first Yellow Page directory with coupons. These books were created for local businesses to reach customers in their local area. It’s been over 125 years since the first modern “local marketing” platform was created and while the platform has shifted more to online users, local marketing still remains as the #1 priority for local businesses!
Local marketing may seem complicated, but in reality it is a simple thing for all businesses. Below are some tips on how to put in place a local marketing strategy for your company.
1) Internet: Local Internet Marketing is an important key to your local marketing strategy. If you don’t already have a website, it is time to get one up ASAP. According to Google 97% of all customers searching on the internet are looking for a local company to do business with. If you’re not found, there is a great chance that a competitor in your local market who has a website will grab that business.
Completing a website simply isn’t enough in this competitive market place. You need to make sure your website is up to date, easy to navigate and just as important, easily found. If you are like a lot of locally owned businesses you may feel you do not have the budget or time to complete these tasks, truth is, if these tasks are created and done correctly with the local customer in mind you cannot afford not to.
Make sure your business is listed correctly across the internet. You know that advertising you have been doing in the yellow pages, tv, coupon books etc.? A lot of times those places will put a call tracking number in your ad. This is great for you to be able to track responses from the advertising, the bad news is they also list those call tracking numbers on the internet. This is not good when it comes to your local customers trying to find you and your information. It could also be detrimental to your listings on Google, Yahoo and Bing when it comes to your local business listings (aka; places listings, map listings etc.). You will want to make sure you have the correct information on the internet so when your customer is looking for a local business in the areas you serve, you have a chance to get the call. If you are doing this yourself start with the most used local directories, those will be the most important to begin with. Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, Citysearch to name a few. If you have hired an SEO company I am sure they are handling this for you.
2) Chamber of Commerce: Your local chamber is a great place to be a part of. New movers to your area will usually go to the chamber to get information about the schools, utilities and activities offered in that specific city. Become part of the chamber, take part in some of the events and activities they hold. Not only are you helping make your community a better place, you are keeping your name in front of several potential customers within your local community.
3) Business Groups: Join your local business group in your area. This is a good place to meet other local business owners and I have heard some good success stories from owners who have became an active part of their local business group. Not only will it give you an opportunity to meet other local business owners, but it will also give you a potential lead generating system. While the customer/business connection may not be as strong as it may have been in days past, there is still customer loyalty and trust within communities. When you build trust with the other owners in your group, that owner is sure to refer you when a customer needs your service or products.
4) Keep active marketing locally: While internet usage has become the biggest platform for your customers, it doesn’t mean that’s the only places customers look. Make sure your name is around your community. From car and truck wraps to direct mail you can stay on top of your potential customers mind. When they need your product or service they think of you as the expert. After all they have seen and heard about you everywhere 🙂
While maintaining or creating a local marketing strategy keep in mind everything that the “sales rep/account exec” is telling or showing you is not always the case. Companies can make surveys look like they are the one to use by the questions they ask. If a company shows you a survey they had done, ask them what were the questions they asked. Example: yellow page companies all say they are the most used book in your local market, but how can they all be the most used? It was the way they asked the question. As a business owner you may ask the question “Do you use XYZ yellow pages for buying decisions”, “how many times per year would you say you have made a purchase because of XYZ yellow pages”? As a yellow page company that needs to get the right results to share with their current and prospective clients those questions may be asked as “Do you have the XYZ yellow pages in your home”, “How many times have you checked the yellow pages for a phone number over the past year”. From those results they will than create a handout to show you that out of the 30,000 people in your local market XYZ is used by 80% of the homes, and out of the 85% said they have used the book to make buying decisions in the past year. While these numbers are true in a shady way, that is not the information you as a local business owner needs to know. You need to know what customers are looking for when they are buying.
Ask neighbors, friends, relatives and other business owners what shows they watch, what yellow pages they use, what radio station do they listen to and what days if any they read the hard copy of the newspaper. Make sure you ask different age groups. Make a note and from that you have done your own local marketing research.
Remember is it said only 25% of your marketing actually works. So it is definitely worth spending a little bit of time researching before you make any marketing decisions.
The above tips should help you in putting together a local marketing strategy that will help you maximize your potential in your local market.