Last week I presented to a franchised travel company about local area marketing for their franchisees.
Small and large businesses alike often need to adopt a different strategy when it comes to marketing in their local area versus larger national brand-building campaigns.
Local area marketing is very different to mass marketing and needs a different approach. However, doing it well will generate results, strong word of mouth and ongoing loyalty.
Awareness-building tactics that work well locally:
Ultimately it’s about pressing the flesh and getting to meet local influencers and potential clients in your area. Networking doesn’t always mean going to business events or organised networking groups. It can be as simple as letting people you already know become more aware of what you do and who you do it for.
Organised networking groups include ones like Business Network International, your local chamber of commerce or business women’s networking groups.
However, you shouldn’t overlook non-business networks such as sporting clubs, local training groups and your family and friends. Extending a special offer to these networks will also raise awareness of what you do and drive direct leads and sales.
Most communities will organise local community events. These include family fun days, food and wine festivals, and fundraising events. Your local council website will usually have an events listing and you can participate in a number of ways, including volunteering or paying to participate. Offer to supply goods or services in return for brand exposure. Or for a fundraiser, put together your own team and supply branded shirts, etc, for the event.
There’s a reason why you see bigger brands like Coles or Woolworths engaging in marketing programs that support local schools with sports and music equipment. It works.
Grassroots local area marketing involving the sponsorship or support of local groups builds trust and goodwill. Think about ways you can get involved at some level.
A travel company might work with a supplier to send the local rugby club on tour or a local garden centre might provide seedlings for a community garden. Any sponsorship opportunity should be leveraged by being able to promote an offer to the membership or community involved in the group and also communicated to the local paper.
Getting in the local press reminds everyone who knows you or who has seen your brand of who you are and what you do. Good angles for getting in the local press include:
- Winning awards – everyone loves a local success story
- Volunteering time or services for a cause or a local who needs help
- Promoting a passion beyond work
- Providing a column or editorial
SEO – Google My Business
More than one in five Google searches in Australia are now local, so having a strong local online presence is critical.
Make sure that your website contains keywords that match local search terms and a Google My Business listing linked to your website will also help you rank prominently when people search locally for your product or service.
Google AdWords or pay-per-click campaigns should also focus on using targeted local search terms.
Social media advertising is very measurable and highly targeted. Running Facebook promotions, sponsored posts and ads will all help grow your following and drive people to your business as well as raise awareness locally.
Brand everything as much as possible. I’ve seen the result of this in my own business when I chose a shopfront for my office. It’s led to a high awareness amongst the community of my brand and driven direct leads.
Maximising your efforts
Good relationships are built from consistent communication and showing people you care. In order to maximise your efforts to build awareness, there’s some essential activities you need to combine with your marketing efforts
It’s all about the (data)base
All of the awareness you generate should somehow drive people through to your database. Promote your website at each touch point and offer visitors a reason to join your database, whether it’s for special offers or promotions or quality content.
Your database combined with regular communications to the people who are in it will maximise any return on investment from the local area marketing you’ve undertaken.
Local area marketing for smaller business often fails because business owners try to do too many things at once. If you are ready to undertake a local area marketing campaign, it’s better to focus on one thing and do it well than attempt too many things at once and do them poorly or inconsistently.
In the world of people being able to buy goods and services easily from anywhere around the world, building trust and awareness at a local level is critical.
Ultimately communities need local businesses as well for a healthy and prosperous environment. So get out there and meet the locals for ongoing loyalty.
Since starting her outsourced national marketing consultancy Marketing Angels in 2000, Michelle Gamble has helped hundreds of SMEs get smarter marketing. Michelle helps businesses find more effective ways to grow their brands and businesses.