One roadside hotel installed a 6-meters high diplodocus (a dinosaur) to attract passing drivers. We admit that it's quite an unusual way to advertise, but not all types of local businesses need to apply such radical marketing to get customers.
If you are not into dinosaurs, then this essential guide to local business marketing will instruct you on 17 key channels to become the king of the mountain. Here is an infographic that will give you a general idea about the content of the article.
The content below applies to any kind of local business – find the perfect combination of both strategy and tactics to outperform your competitors and make your company a local star. Let's delve into it!
Channel #1 – Offline advertising
DO IT LIKE AN ARTIST, NOT A BUSINESS OWNER
Signboards, citylights, and billboards are the most obvious ways to promote your local business. Well, don't do them. We mean no half-hearted efforts like most businesses do! If you're going to do it, do it right!
Try to remember at least five offline ads you saw yesterday. That'll not be easy – we humans developed something called "ad blindness" quite a while ago. Most ads we see are quite banal, repetitive, and dumb, so our brain filters this visual noise. If you've decided to promote your local business with offline ads, it's better to brainstorm some creative ideas and hire a good specialist in this field.
The main goal of offline ads is to invoke interest and push a person to learn more and come to your location. So instead of direct selling, take an artistic approach – think about how to make your ad symbolic to awaken interest. Here are some ways to do it:
- Stand out from your surroundings. Take a look at the locations you expect to place your ads. What do ads of other businesses and competitors look like? What are their prevalent colors, messages, formats? Develop your ads in a way that catches attention and differs from surroundings.
- Use recognizable art objects. For example, you could adapt some famous quotes for your text. Or showcase well-known pictures and sculptures in a new way, as a vintage clothing brand did:
- Derive inspiration from the best ads in the world. You can explore Rich Media Gallery, IADDB, or this Pinterest to get bold ideas for your local business marketing.
- Make your location the ad itself. Create a branded photo area that people will use to take a photo and share it on social media. Here you can find some examples.
It's vital to choose the right placement in offline advertising. Ads will not bring you any clients if you put them in the wrong locations, so choose them carefully. No need to buy a lot of ad spots – work as a sniper and choose a few spots in the most important locations. Here are some options:
- Placements just near your business locations.
- In public transport stops near you.
- Where your target audience spends time. For example, if you target office workers, you could buy ad placements near office centers, business lunch spots, and near traffic lights on the way to work.
Combining the artistic and sniper approaches for ad creation and placements, you will have good chances to get more clients just with offline advertising. But don't limit yourself with analog channels — let's see how you could leverage digital.
Channel #2 – Website
AN "ONLINE OFFICE" THAT YOU CAN BUILD IN TWO DAYS
You have an offline location, but to leverage most of the modern marketing tools you also need to have an "online location" – your website. It will help you to achieve such goals:
- Increase audience awareness of your business by leveraging digital channels;
- Decrease the load of your call center – potential visitors could just obtain basic information online;
- Engage your potential customers enough so they leave their contact information;
- Convert online visitors to offline visitors, so you could sell them goods or services
If you think that website creation is a long and expensive process, then relax – it could be dirt cheap. Of course, a fancy website would cost you a small fortune, but for starters, some simple landing page constructed in two days on Unbounce or Wix will be enough. If you don't have experience in their creation, it's better to hire a freelancer from UpWork that could help you.
We have developed an effective structure for local business websites. Adhere to this screen sequence to create a converting website that will get you more visitors:
- Value proposition. A silver bullet for getting attention – the ultimate reason why customers should come to you and how you are different from competitors. It should be a catchy text combined with an engaging image. Two-three sentences are enough.
- Description. Explain what your business does, how you can help your customers, and what are the main benefits they receive should they come to you.
- Service area and your locations. The next thing a user wants to know about you is whether your location is convenient for him. Write your addresses and working hours, insert a Google Maps snippet to customer journeys to your location.
- Benefits. Describe the benefits of your services to customers. Don't talk a lot about yourself, instead concentrate on the customer, one's pains, needs, and desires. Think of it as an empathy exercise – the better you show website visitors you understand them, the more will come.
- Call to Action #1. Your first hook. Put a button that urges a visitor to leave a phone number, call you or get directions to your area.
- Testimonials. Social proof is a major league way to persuade potential customers to come to your location, so put them on your website. The best way to do it is to integrate them from review platforms, like Google Reviews for Business, Facebook, or Trustpilot. If you have too few reviews – Pluspoint will help you to boost their collection.
- Blog posts or integrated Instagram page. Scatter some delicious "content breadcrumbs" to lure visitors for further interaction with your website. Put links to the most engaging posts you published or integrate your Instagram/Facebook newsfeed. This way visitors will stay on the website longer and become more engaged with your brand.
- Contacts and Call To Action #2. Repeat your call to action, provide the needed info to contact your business. Studies show that if a call to action is repeated at least two times, the chance of conversion is higher.
This structure is not mandatory, experiment and apply your vision. Here are 15 local business websites that can give you some inspiration for creating your own.
Channel #3 – Reputation management and review platforms for local businesses marketing
SAY MY NAME
Let's imagine you are looking for a clinic and found several ones. What will you do next? We bet you will go read reviews about them. That's the right thing to do – nobody buys a pig in a poke, especially when it concerns health.
The same thing works for your local business – it's important to receive a lot of good reviews if you want to have a steady flow of clients. Reviews improve your local SEO, get more traffic to your locations, and help sales managers to persuade visitors. So it's especially important to have your Google My Business, Facebook Reviews, and Yelp profiles nice and shiny. How to get it done properly and leave your competitors in the dust?
The old way is to ask for reviews in person. That's ok – the personal approach always works. But people could easily forget about your request. Or your receptionist is too shy to ask. Or… there are a lot of barriers that decrease the potential number of reviews. But there is one bulletproof way to increase them – use reputation management software.
Let's take Pluspoint for example. With its help you can:
- Remind customers to leave a review after their visit. Via SMS, emails, or both. Using this way, you can receive up to 3x more reviews than usual.
- Get more reviews from customers on locations, with the help of QR codes. Just put them on your main public spots – and it will be easy to leave a review instantly on the location.
- Intercept negative reviews. Well, you don't want to spoil your rating, right? Pluspoint allows you to learn from negative reviews but to avoid them becoming public.
- Manage and analyze feedback from several locations and platforms. See a big picture of your local business reputation by analyzing review trends, lifecycle, and key insights.
Positive reviews usually are the main factor that influences a customer's buying decision at the consideration stage. Vice versa, negative reviews are a stumbling block for visiting your business. On average, our customers see 3x times increase in positive reviews. Try Pluspoint now – leave your competitors in the dust.
Channel #4 – Google, Youtube, and Facebook microtargeting for local businesses
LOW BUDGET AND SNIPER-LIKE APPROACH TO DIGITAL ADVERTISING
Google, Youtube, and Facebook advertising could drastically increase awareness about your local business. These channels could be quite expensive, but if you leverage their main advantage – the ability to target ads locally, you will achieve impressive results without spending bags of money.
Think of yourself as a sniper, who works precisely and doesn't make a lot of moves. First, you need people from a certain location, so use the location targeting option which will show ads to people only in a certain area or even by postcodes. Second – use demographic and interest filters to target people who could benefit from your business's services.
For example, you own a restaurant and want to increase the number of orders from IT developers – there are a lot of such offices in your area. You can create an ad that appeals just to this audience and target it to IT developers within a one-kilometer radius.
Creating such ad campaigns requires some skill, so maybe it's a good idea to find a freelancer who could get it done for you.
Channel #5 – Local SEO
CLIMB TO THE TOP OF THE LOCAL SEARCH RESULTS AND GOOGLE MAPS
What is the second-highest mountain in the world? It's hard to answer this question, right? Because we remember only the firsts. The same with search results – companies from the first results page receive 95% of the whole traffic and the first position has 33% of all clicks! To make your local business successful you have put your flag on that Everest. Here are some tips to get it done:
- Include local keywords into your website. Phrases like "home services London", "clinic nearby" increase your positions in a local search, so make sure you include them in the headings of your website. Also, make sure to include keywords in the blog articles you publish. Keyword Planner can help you to find relevant keywords.
- Increase the number of reviews on Google Maps, Facebook, and other platforms. Search engines take reviews into account and put local businesses with a big number of reviews first. Pluspoint can help you to get more reviews – use it to receive more free organic traffic.
- Make sure your website speed is optimized. Search engines don't like slow websites – use PageSpeed Insights to evaluate your load speed.
- Get external links to your website. If any media or blogs publish information about you – make sure they link to your website. Also, you can ask an SEO specialist to buy links for you.
Channel #6 – PR and media for a local business marketing
SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND
Any media platform is a good way to bring both short and long-term traffic to your location. You can have a boost in awareness after publication, and if people search for your business on the internet later, they trust you more if they find a story about you.
First of all, we talk about free publications. Media publications can be quite expensive, but there are ways to publish a story for free. Usually, journalists agree to publish such materials for free:
- Your business story. People are always interested in success stories, so if you share how exactly you hit a home run, there is a big possibility that the media will gladly publish it.
- How your business helps local causes. If you are engaged in some local activities that help your city – share your experience about it. Why did you start it? What was the reaction from your clients? What results did you achieve?
- Major news about your business. Industry media often write about big changes in companies. For example, if you received an award or opened a new location – most probably, the media will publish a piece about it.
- Your expert opinion or advice. Write an article about an interesting topic which you are an expert in. For example, an automotive business owner can provide a checklist on how to prolong the life of a vehicle, a restaurant owner can share some holiday recipes, etc.
Choose some local media, not national media – it will be easier to have a piece there. Also, try to move in the same circles with journalists and editors beforehand – at least connect with them in social media and start to engage with the content they publish.
Channel #7 – Content marketing for a local business promotion
BECOME A LOCAL MEDIA YOURSELF
This item is a logical continuation of the previous one – if your business can write for media, it can become one itself. Share your company's expertise in the blog, give your potential customers value before they come to you – and they will vote for you with their money later. Some of the content ideas we mentioned earlier, here are a few more:
- Reviews of tools, blogs, and media that could be of use to your customers. You worked a lot in your industry, know some ins and outs – share it, make customers' lives better even before they come to you.
- Customer cases. People love stories, that's why TV shows are so popular. Share your customer stories, how you helped them – that's a tried and tested way to attract new clients.
- Trends. Analyze current trends and major events in your industry. Make it regular – do it monthly, for example.
- Additional value of your product. For example, if you have a hotel, you could write a tourist guide for your city or list some services that your customers can attend nearby.
- Detailed answers to the most common questions your customers ask. For example, you have a hotel in a ski resort – write posts about types of skis, possible traumas, how to choose ski instructors, and so on.
- Entertaining content. Memes, fun, or impressive videos are always getting a lot of attention. Think of all funny situations that happen in your industry, create memes that describe them. Also, you can always "steal like an artist" from websites like 9Gag.
We listed some basic ideas for your blog which could be used for other content channels like Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Here are 95 more ideas for content marketing – you will have enough to keep you going.
Channel #8 – Social Media Marketing
BUILD YOUR VIRTUAL STADIUM
Social Media are a mandatory channel for local business promotion because if people want to find updates, this is where they go. Three major networks that local businesses can find useful are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Here are some tips on how to make your SMM effective:
- Don't start with a lot of channels, begin with one or two that are relevant to your industry and location. If you take too many from the start, there is a big chance you will not get sensible results.
- Invest money not only into content creation but also into its promotion, especially at the start. It's one of the most popular mistakes new brands make. If you invested a lot of effort into writing a post but have too few followers to see it – all your effort is wasted. In contrast, if you promote your content, you will see a far quicker growth. Especially if you leverage the microtargeting we discussed in paragraph four.
- Find local hashtags and use them – that's how you can get to the local top.
- Launch remarketing campaigns for all website visitors. If you show ads to those who have already visited the website and call them to follow your pages, your followers base will grow in leaps and bounds.
We listed some content ideas in the previous paragraph, but here is a good article with 189 more ideas for social media posts – you could get more inspiration there.
Channel #9 – YouTube for local business marketing
NOT AS EXPENSIVE AS YOU WOULD THINK
If you started writing articles, shooting videos would be a logical continuation. For example, you could write articles, collect stats about the most successful ones, and then create videos based on that topic. That will ensure you invest in videos that are interesting to your audience.
Starting a vlog doesn't require bags of money. You can start shooting videos with your smartphone and if you see traction – then invest more in equipment and hire a professional videographer.
What topics to cover on your Youtube channel? We listed them in the content marketing section, but here is another useful approach to use – "Hero, Hub, Hygiene" framework by Google. The main idea is to divide your content into three main categories:
- Hygiene. Everything that users google and ask about your business: working hours, reviews, how to use your products, FAQ, and so on.
- Hub. Periodical content that is easy to produce and has proven itself as a trusted source of traffic and views.
- Hero. An experimental content that requires a lot of resources and risks, but could bring you a lot of traffic and customers. For example, some collaborations with local celebrities or creating comics about your industry.
You can read more about this framework here.
Also, make sure to take into account these Youtube-specific common practices:
- Right titles are very important for the success of your videos on Youtube. Make them engaging enough to awaken your potential customer's interest. Also, they should be SEO optimized and have the right keywords, so you maximize the amount of organic traffic to your video.
- Each video has a keywords section, so make sure you insert the most relevant ones. Try to combine high and low-frequency keywords. Low-frequency keywords usually are easier to win (take the highest spot on search results). High-frequency keywords are harder to win but once you do it – you will get tons of traffic from organic searches.
- Youtube covers are another important factor that catches the audience's attention, so make sure to hire a major league designer for this kind of job.
- Always promote your videos via your other marketing channels just after the publication. If a video gets a lot of views just after publishing, the Youtube algorithm will deliver it to a broader audience via the "proposed videos" section.
Channel #10 – Event marketing for local business promotion
MAKE YOUR LOCATION A MEETING POINT
What resource does a local business always have? Right – location. You can use it as your "free" marketing asset – host events. There are two ways to use this channel:
- Host your events. This way you receive more public influence and form a community. But take into account that it also takes more resources to organize.
- Host events organized by someone else. It takes less effort, new people still see your location, but the marketing result is less than it'd be in the case of your event.
What types of events could you organize?
- Networking events or parties. Host events where people close to your industry can meet each other and find new connections. If you host such events regularly, it will get you more connections and clients.
- Educational events about your industry. For example, you have a legal business that specializes in commercial law. So, every two weeks you host a lecture about different aspects of it. Restaurants can host cooking lessons, financial services – financial literacy meetups, and so on.
Channel #11 – Local influencers for promotion of your business
There are always some influencers that specialize in a certain city or area. Those could be photographers, social activists, politicians, or other entrepreneurs. Leveraging their social capital to get more customers to your location is one of the best ways for your local business marketing – social proof is still one of the most reliable ways to advertise.
How to persuade an influencer to promote your local business? The simplest and most effective way is to pay him for posts on social media. If you don't have such resources, you can propose some quantity of your services for free or come up with a collaboration idea that will be profitable to both sides.
How to find a local influencer?
- We bet you know some of them just by living in your city. Don't be shy to write to them directly – they are also people. Being public is just a way for them to get income and influence.
- Also, you can google something like "influencers London", etc.
- Another way – check local hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, like #London, and so on.
- Also, you could check authors in local media – usually, they have quite a big followers base.
Channel #12 – Networking, personal brand, and community building for local business marketing
Instead of asking an influencer to post about your business, you can become one yourself. A personal brand is a major league marketing tool whose importance only grows in the modern world. How to nurture it and use it to promote your local business?
Networking. Attend events where your target audience can be found. Establish contacts, but don't start to sell immediately. It's better to meet people in person: think about how you can help your new acquaintances, how to develop deeper relations with them. The power of personal communications is strong – when your new contacts will need your services they will remember you. There is a good book about networking – "Never Eat Alone". Read it – there is a lot of great advice on leveraging this instrument.
Personal Social Media accounts. People like personalities – that's why celebrities, not companies, have the biggest amount of followers. Start to write or shoot videos about your life, hobbies, business. This way your account and brand can become the main source of clients. Richard Branson is a good example of personal branding, his books, and social media reinforce all his businesses. You could read some of them to get the idea and start blogging by yourself.
Community building. We live in the age of modern "tribes", and your local business could start its own. Your clients have something in common – use it to unite them. Start a closed chat around a specific topic or a hobby. As an example, one advertising agency started regular table tennis meetups, then created a chat around that, and as result started to receive a steady flow of clients from… playing table tennis. Think about what personal hobbies you could extend to your business and further.
Channel #13 – Strategic partnerships
THE WAY TO RECEIVE A STEADY FLOW OF CLIENTS
A logical continuation of networking and personal branding is to integrate your local business with others. Find companies that serve your target audience but are not your direct competitors. Synergy with them opens the way to more global PR campaigns and the exchange of customers.
Here are some examples of potential partnerships for different kinds of businesses:
- Hotels, restaurants, and beauty salons can cross-promo each other;
- Automotive dealerships can cooperate with insurance companies;
- Clinics can provide discounts for specific hotels' guests;
- Home services can distribute promo cards with discounts in local retail chains.
To find the right partner ask yourself these questions:
- Which businesses are close to my location?
- What local companies have the same audience as mine but are not my competitors?
- How can they be useful to me and how can I help them?
Setting a partnership right requires some time but it pays off with time.
Channel #14 – Personalized marketing with CRM, email, and SMS
BECOME A TRUSTED BARTENDER WHO KNOWS CUSTOMER HABITS AND NEEDS
We combined these three channels into one section because they have something in common – the appearance of personal communication. All of these channels are quite cheap if used correctly. Let's see how you could leverage each.
CRM. Customer relationship management software aggregates data about client purchases and interactions – think of it as your command center. With CRM you can coordinate text and email campaigns, reactivate old customers and see the big picture for the whole sales funnel. It allows personalizing communications by categorizing the clients and profiling personal details for each one. So, from a marketing perspective, you will be able to conduct campaigns with separate messages to different customer segments. From a sales perspective, you will be able to easily retrieve information about a customer during your calls and create personalized proposals.
CRM marketing is especially powerful if united with reputation management software. It dramatically increases the number of reviews you get on Google Reviews for Business and other platforms.
SMS. This channel is perfect for providing instant updates to customers. Often they are more convenient for customers than emails because of a simpler interface and shorter messages. It's considered one of the most efficient channels with a 99% open rate. The important thing to remember is not to overuse this channel – people don't like violations of personal space. You can use SMS marketing for such purposes:
- Order updates;
- Offers, discounts, and personalized promotions;
- Remarketing and reactivation;
- Customer surveys.
Email. Still one of the most effective marketing channels. One of the biggest challenges for it is to build a decent email list. You can use incentives for users to sign-up for your mailing list, like providing discounts or high-quality educational materials.
There are two types of emails: operational and marketing. Operational is used for notifications about changes of a user status or his actions: sign-ups, purchases, payments, and so on. Marketing emails help you to promote and sell your services. Some ideas for content topics we proposed in paragraph seven of this article. If you want to dive more, here are 50+ ideas for email marketing.
Channel #15 – Chatbots for a local business promotion
CREATE YOUR OWN WALL-E
One of the best ways to reduce the load on your call center and increase engagement on your website or social media is to create a chatbot. With modern solutions, it's quite an easy thing to do. Some things that chatbot can take care of:
- Answer frequently asked questions;
- Engage customers in conversations, entertaining them and providing educational content;
- Collect leads and send messages later. Note that you can integrate the chatbot with CRM and then conduct omnichannel marketing campaigns;
- Conduct customer surveys to receive more information about their experience.
If you want to learn more about chatbot marketing, we recommend reading this thorough guide.
Channel #16 – Online directories
A DIRT-CHEAP WAY TO GET EXPOSURE
Listings are a good way to collect additional leads almost for free. Most directories have quite cheap conditions for advertising, but they invest a lot into their SEO. You can choose different keywords for the titles of your ads, so search results will provide not only your website but also links from different listings. There are hundreds of directories for any kind of business, managing them can become cumbersome – you can use Pluspoint to do it in one place.
Some resources to start: Craigslist, Yelp, Locanto, Offerup. Also, look for specific listings for your industry and location, so you cover all possible channels.
Channel #17 – QR codes marketing
WHEN THE PHYSICAL WORLD MEETS THE DIGITAL WORLD
QR codes are a very powerful tool for reinforcing your business reputation and collecting customer feedback. Just put QR codes with invites to leave a review at reception, tables, public places, and doors – it'll increase the number of reviews dramatically. Pluspoint provides effective tools for QR codes and reviews management – try it now.
Marketing KPIs for local business
MEASURING THE IMPACT
It's said: "If you don't measure, you can't improve it". So it's very important to track all the key marketing stats to see how your actions influence your results. KPIs will vary depending on the channels you chose, but here are some key ones to start:
- Number of social media followers;
- Number of your website visitors;
- Number of offline traffic to your locations;
- Money spent on marketing;
- Return on advertising spend;
- The number of reviews received. Pluspoint is especially helpful here – it aggregates stats from all platforms;
- The total number of customers.
Measure KPIs on a weekly and monthly basis, analyze changes, both positive and negative. Such retrospective analysis, if based on numbers, can bring you a lot of insights and hypotheses for improvements.
Wrapping up. How to choose channels for local business promotion
We mentioned a lot of marketing channels to consider, but, of course, you don't need to use all of them. For each type of local business different channels are effective. In this infographic you will find which ones could work the best for you.
Of course, you don't have to start with all channels – it could even do you harm. The trick is to choose two-four channels and concentrate on them. We marked short, medium, and long-term channels. Short-term channels provide results quicker and are easy to set up, but usually are more expensive and have a limit for scaling. Long-term channels take a lot of time to set up but provide consistent results over long periods. Plan your marketing campaigns accordingly.
Plan, implement, measure, and improve your local business marketing based on this article, and someday, we believe, you will be the most thriving business in your area. Happy journey to the top!