As business owners and marketers, we often fall for the idea that bigger is better. We think, “If we just did more, bought more, or expanded our budget more, we would get better results.” But what if that’s not true? What if the exact opposite were true?
It’s 2022, and many savvy marketers and brands are waking up to the fact that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. They’re discovering that one of the best ways to build a successful brand is actually by aiming smaller. We’re talking about going local with your marketing strategy.
The Power of Local Marketing
Local marketing might seem like something that small, niche brands or startups do when they don’t have the budget to launch a full-fledged marketing strategy. But don’t be so quick to judge. There’s a reason some of the world’s most successful brands are refining their scope and placing a bigger emphasis on local marketing. Here are some of the direct benefits:
- Purchase behavior. Did you know that 93 percent of consumers typically travel 20 minutes or less to make their standard, everyday purchases? While Amazon.com and other ecommerce sites are as popular as ever, this means most people still make the bulk of their daily purchases from local businesses. Thus, it makes sense that you would have a local marketing presence.
- Local searches. Roughly 33 percent of online consumers use the internet to search for local businesses on a daily basis. Another 16 percent of people do so multiple times per week. That means nearly half of all online users are actively searching for businesses in their area.
- Trusted referrals. Here’s an interesting data point: 83 percent of consumers say word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals from friends or family members make them more likely to buy a product or service. Considering that most friends and family members are in the same local market as the consumer, this amplifies the importance of having a local marketing presence.
- Engagement. If you study Facebook pages, you’ll find that 72 percent of brand engagement is happening on local pages. This includes comments, direct messages, and shares (which are all high-value engagement activities). Broader, non-local pages typically receive low-value engagement, such as likes and views.
When you add up all of these benefits, you can clearly see the value of local marketing (particularly when you stack it up against your existing marketing strategy that attempts to reach a broader market).
5 Local Marketing Tips and Tactics
If you want to be successful with local marketing, there are several things you can do to maximize your results. Let’s explore a few of these tactics:
1. Choose a Defined Market
Successful local marketing starts with having a very defined target market. In other words, you need to know who your audience is.
It’s not enough to target a specific local market, like Nashville, TN. You must get clear on who your ideal target customer is within this market. As you build out your target customer profiles, think about factors like age range, interests, careers, political and religious affiliations, desires, frustrations, etc.
The more detailed your target audience is, the more effective your local marketing efforts will be. Take the time to really flesh out these details on the front end.
2. Invest in Local SEO
Once you have a defined market, it’s time to turn your attention to local search engine optimization (SEO). Considering that nearly half of all online users are using Google and other search engines to find local businesses, an investment in local SEO is a no-brainer. Here are the main ingredients:
- Technical SEO. While everyone wants to immediately jump into keywords and content, the reality is that your local SEO strategy won’t go anywhere fast without a sound technical SEO foundation. This means properly setting up your website so that things like tags, titles, page structure, URLs, site speed, security, and usability are all optimized.
- Local keywords.SEO is largely based on keywords. If you want your pages, ads, and content to be served to people who are in your target audience, you have to prioritize the right local keywords. There are plenty of tools you can use to perform keyword research, including these eight tools.
- Content. Keywords can be used in a variety of places, including PPC ads, but are most valuable when integrated into your website’s content strategy. In fact, content is the gas to this entire local SEO engine. Website pages and blog posts are what Google uses to drive traffic to your site.
- Backlinks. Google and other search engines view backlinks as trust signals. When they see dozens of backlinks pointing from authoritative websites back to pages on your website, it tells them that your content is worth serving to people. This makes link building one of the most important components of a proactive local SEO strategy.
When you invest in local SEO, you instantly make your brand more searchable online. In other words, people are more likely to find you when running keyword searches related to your products, services, or niche.
3. Use Location-Based Services
If you have a physical storefront or building, you can use location-based services to really increase your visibility and potentially drive foot traffic to your locations.
Popular location-based services include Foursquare, Google Places, and Facebook Places. These services are free to use, but they give you an opportunity to connect with people nearby.
4. Partner With Other Local Businesses
One of the fastest ways to build a presence in a local market is by leveraging the connections, resources, and relationships that other established businesses already have. You can do this by forming partnerships (whether official or unofficial).
Partnerships can take on any number of different formats. Ultimately, the goal is to help other businesses. If you help other businesses by adding value to them, they’ll be willing to do the same for you.
The power of business partnerships was perfectly exemplified during the pandemic shutdowns of 2020 and 2021. Businesses that had rich partnerships with other companies were able to combine and leverage resources to remain solvent. Those who were operating on their own little islands were much more likely to go under.
5. Attend Local Events
There’s no better way to connect with customers than getting in front of them and interacting in a face-to-face manner. And what better option for face-to-face engagement than local events?
Attending local events allows you to get in front of people and build relationships. This strategy works especially well if your team features people with outgoing personalities. Here are a few ideas for local event marketing:
- Sponsor local events. Are there local events already on the calendar that you can attach your brand to in the form of a sponsorship? Not only does this help you drive brand awareness in your local market, but it also serves as a goodwill builder between your business and the organization running the event. (Not to mention, it gives you an easy way to network with the other event sponsors.)
- Rent a booth at a local event. Sponsoring an event can be beneficial, but so can renting a booth at a local event (like a tradeshow, outdoor market, or festival). This gives you a chance to meet people, talk about your business, and potentially even make a few sales.
- Participate in non-profit events. Every local market has non-profit events and activities that are designed to benefit a particular cause, charity, or group of people. There may be opportunities for you to sponsor, volunteer, or provide some of your products or services.
These are just a few ideas. Bring your team together and brainstorm some additional ideas. Every market is different and there could be unique opportunities available in your city.
Grow Your Brand With Local Marketing
Local marketing isn’t a get-rich-quick marketing scheme that drives instant results. It takes some time, patience, and planning. However, if you give it a few months, you’ll eventually be rewarded with higher penetration, better visibility, and – ultimately – a greater ROI on your marketing dollars.
The only question is, are you willing to commit the resources?