Local communities are the first customers of almost every business, regardless of what industry they may be in. Small to medium-sized enterprises, in particular, work usually work by building a solid local customer base first, as this foundation enables them to grow steadily and to expand their customer reach later on.
Marketing products and services to your local community, however, can still be quite a challenging task. Unlike large-scale marketing, you can’t just use generic promotional strategies and expect your local customers to feel a connection to your company right away. You need to learn how to target your sales pitch directly at local audiences while keeping in mind their preferences and needs.
Why Target Local?
Local marketing refers to marketing efforts targeting your nearby community—both offline and online. However, the increasing adaptation of e-commerce and online shopping among consumers makes it clear that a business stands to gain quite a lot by investing in a local online marketing strategy.
Local online marketing is perfect for businesses that are small or medium-sized operations, both of which may not have large budgets to spend on wide-scale marketing efforts. But, they can still build their client base by strengthening their local marketing efforts instead.
Keep in mind that local marketing can be a double-edged sword. On the bright side, if you are aiming to gain the patronage of a local community, it means that your business is already situated there. You, perhaps already know, to some extent, what your local community needs and which motives may lead them to purchase your product.
For example, if you’re running a gardening shop and know that your community holds a flower festival every April, then your team can target ads and messages around that event to drive more sales in April. You can even use the festival to showcase how beautiful your flower selection is—encouraging sales even after the festival.
The challenging part, however, is that you’ll need to dedicate time and effort to coming up with a unique approach to each marketing strategy that you execute.
Going back to the previous example, saying that your flowers can brighten up any float in the flower festival is worth much more than simply saying that your flowers are beautiful. The former touches a local event that is unique to the community while the latter can come off as too vague. You need to continuously find ways to make your business relevant to your local community.
Turning an offline local marketing strategy into an online lead generation campaign is actually a task that your marketing or sales team can handle with relative ease. With so many online tools available, you don’t need to be an IT expert to start reaching your community online. All you need is knowledge of what your community needs or lacks, and how your product or service can fill that gap.
Target Your Local Audience the Smart Way
If you are a small business aiming to target a local market, it’s easy to fall into the trap of foregoing marketing altogether and just relying on referrals.
Word of mouth goes a long way, right? Adopting this lax attitude, however, may stunt business growth. Referrals are great, but you’d be wise not to build your entire business on them. Turn a much tidier profit by attracting new customers instead of boxing yourself in with only your current clients.
It’s time to target your local audience the smart way. You don’t even need a huge marketing budget to do so.
Here are some proven marketing strategies for you to adopt:
Capture Lead Information from Existing and Potential Customers
To better serve your local market, it’s best to get to know them first. Communicate clearly with customers, ask how satisfied they are with the service or product they’re receiving, and how they think it can be improved.
The information you gather will be a treasure trove of ideas for improving your business in a way that your local audience deems best. Setting up forms and surveys on your website is an effective way to obtain the information you need. You can even throw in incentives such as coupons or discounts to encourage potential customers to give your business a try.
Maximize Your Local SEO
Set up a website that not only showcases your products and services but also provides useful information to your audience. You can, then, optimize its content to target your local audience specifically. Find out which keywords your customers are using when searching your product or the questions they’re asking online. You can include those keywords on your website updates or post an article that answers their questions.
By optimizing your site to fit the needs of your local audience, it’s more likely that your page will rank well in local online searches.
Consider working with influential bloggers within your industry too. You can even offer to write a guest post occasionally to acquaint yourself with a blogger’s followers. Moreover, make sure that you have a positive social media presence and interact with your audience there as frequently as you can.
Target Your Messages
When you want to send out messages to friends and family, you don’t just write one letter and press the Send All option. You work on personalizing each one.
You should adopt this approach when marketing. Keep track of the visitors to your website, which links they’re clicking, and what forms they’ve filled out. Knowing your demographics and what they want will enable you to create more personalized marketing campaigns and sales pitches.
Build Relationships with Other Businesses
Partner up with businesses that offer products and services that complement yours. For example, a bakery can establish a partnership with a local cafe so they can cross-promote each other’s products.
Working together, both businesses can create a chart that suggests which types of pastry and coffee blends taste good together. This way, both businesses can offer more value to their customers.
Focus on Promoting Locally
Always keep in mind the needs of your local community. Strengthen your ties with local organizations, especially if they are directly related to your business.
A bookstore would do well to associate with the local book club for example. Remember that customers are always on the lookout for the best deals, and you already have a location working for you. By offering your local community products or services they really need, you’re more likely to grow your customer base faster.
Make Your Content Relevant to Your Community
When developing and publishing content on your website, make sure that it addresses the interests and concerns of your community. Whether the content relates to local news, events or trends, it will be much more effective at engaging your intended audience if it is localized.
Not only will this make your content more relevant to a local audience, but it will also increase the chances of users coming across your website when researching local topics. Good SEO means more target traffic.
Local Targeting Methodology
There are numerous ways to jumpstart your local marketing strategy. Here are some tactics you can use to get started:
Local Business Listings
When customers start searching online for a product you’re offering, you’ll definitely want your business to be in the top results. The higher your business ranks on search engines, the more likely it is that users will visit your brand’s website as opposed to your competitors’.
Establish your online presence by becoming part of various online business listings such as Google My Business and Yahoo Local. Both platforms allow you to fill out a company profile as well as upload photos and videos to showcase your business.
Just make sure that all your details, especially the business name, address, and phone number are consistent among all your listings. This way, the next time a potential customer is searching for a product you’re selling, the search engine can quickly pull the right information from the listing.
Localized Paid Advertising
Advertising has always been an effective way to get your business’ name out there. But targeting within a local community can significantly increase its effect. Research has already shown that geo-targeted ads perform better than those that are not targeted.
A simple way to locally advertise your business online is through Google AdWords. The platform gives you freedom to control your ad’s geo-target, budget, and keywords. You can also use Facebook Local Ads to market within a specific radius around your business. This feature lets you localize your ads, so your promotions are more visible to Facebook users who live in that particular area.
Localized Social Media
Social media is an excellent platform to engage existing and potential customers. Choose the social media platform that your local community is most active on. Facebook and Twitter are usually safe bets, whereas LinkedIn works better for B2B businesses and Instagram is effective for younger audiences.
Connect with customers by hosting local events then share photos and stories from the event on your page, post updates on your latest promos, or simply share relevant posts that your customers will benefit from.
Social media also gives you a chance to personalize and add more value to your ads. You’re not just advertising; you’re also connecting with customers by responding to their questions and posting great content.
Localized Landing Pages
An ideal landing page contains all the necessary information that a customer may need from your business. This includes a brief company profile, products and services, locations, testimonials, phone number, and a form for further inquiries.
If you’re a company with several local franchises, then creating separate landing pages for each franchise will seem more personalized for local customers as opposed to having a single website across the board.
Localized Email Marketing
Apart from having a website, email marketing is another effective online marketing approach you can employ for your business. There are various ways for your businesses to maximize email marketing.
You can keep local customers updated by sending out newsletters that contain not only your products and services but relevant news about your industry as well.
You can also send out catalogs, promotional materials, and survey forms through email. Use the platform to engage with and gain insight from your customers.
When businesses want customers to find their websites, SEO is almost always the solution they’re looking for. Proper SEO techniques can launch your site to the top of search results.
To optimize your website, you can research commonly used keywords that are associated with your brand and its offerings. Then, make sure those keywords appear on your site and ads. Adding location labels further improves your chances of reaching your local community online.
For example, “plumbing services” may be a good keyword, but if you do service calls within Santa Ana, California, then the keyword “santa ana plumbing services” is even better.
A regularly updated site is also SEO-friendly. Add a blog to your site and post insightful articles or tips for your customers. Not only will they find it informative, but you can also use it to generate more local leads by adding keywords for relevance and Calls-To-Action for sales conversions.
Local Referrals and Strategic Partnerships
Referrals are the lifeblood of any business. There’s no real shortcut to getting your customers to refer you to others. However, making sure that they are happy, and satisfied doing business with you gives you your best shot.
Strive to build strategic partnerships with businesses related to yours as well. This way, you can refer customers to one another.
Boost your referrals by setting up a referral strategy. Provide incentives to employees who are active in collecting recommendations. Make referral requests to customers after a recent purchase, especially if they’ve expressed satisfaction with your product or service. Stick to this method to steadily grow your referral base.
Local Offline Presence
While establishing an online marketing strategy is important, your offline presence shouldn’t lag behind. Host events that your local community will find relevant and informative.
Build networks among other local businesses and see what you can learn from the way they operate. Sponsor events that will put your business in a good light. Your online and offline presence can complement each other to produce even better results.
Grow Your Local Market
Take note that implementing all of these strategies for your business is not a means to a quick profit. Marketing still depends on the nature of your business, your budget, and what approach you believe your local community will be most receptive to. Be ready to adjust each tactic according to your local community’s needs and preferences.
Local lead generation is done by identifying your community’s needs and delivering it to them, how they like it and when they need it. Marketing and sales team should emphasize the convenience of obtaining products and services from the business, which is already situated locally. After all, local customers are usually open to supporting their community, even if they end up paying a bit more in doing so.
When you’ve finally established your business as an important part of your community, issues with lead generation and business growth will become a thing of the past.
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