10 Local Marketing Strategies That Work
used with permission from SBA.gov by Anita Campbell
If you operate a local business (one that gets most of its customers from within a 75-mile radius) you can try many general marketing strategies, but you have one special consideration. You have to attract prospects who are close enough to literally walk into your shop or close enough for you to visit to provide service. That calls for special techniques called “local marketing.”
Here are 10 local marketing strategies that can help you attract customers from within your local area:
1. Manage Your Listing in Search Engines
People today search online (or on their phones) first, often using Google or Bing, then visit the business.
You can manage much of the information that appears in Google business listings, including address, hours, phone number, pictures and more, through a free Google My Business account. If you haven’t claimed your listing, do it now. Bing has a similar listing place.
2. Target Nearby Social Media Users
Social media can be targeted to your local area — if you know how to use it that way.
Facebook, for instance, has an option specifically to allow you to market (“promote”) your business to other local Facebook users. I always suggest that small businesses start with a modest $100 budget and run a test campaign.
But you don’t need to advertise. Try to get existing local customers to follow you on your social channels. Provide interesting content and in turn your updates may get exposure to local friends and family who are followers of your followers.
3. Participate With Online Professional Groups
Social media sites like LinkedIn give you access to groups where you can share expertise and network. This is especially good for local B2B businesses.
For example, a Southern California based business that provides advertising materials like t-shirts and other printed goods could potentially benefit from joining groups with other local SoCal businesses.
4. Sponsor Local Events
Sponsoring charitable events in your local community provides a golden opportunity to raise brand awareness.
Make sure the event or cause is not only something you believe in, but also something that might appeal to your target customers. For example, a toy store might not do so well sponsoring an event at a local nightclub. Sponsoring a kids’ sports team would be more relevant.
5. Follow Up With Customers
Send a thank-you email following a sale to encourage testimonials. Never offer anything in exchange for a positive review. But a thank-you email stating that you welcome feedback and would appreciate a testimonial for your website if they care to give one, is being done more and more these days.
6. Register With Local Business Directories
Often times, local customers look to directories to find businesses or professionals from a particular niche in their area. Make sure your business is listed in any relevant directories, and correct any inaccurate information.
Don’t forget your local chamber of commerce, the Better Business Bureau, yellow pages, and niche directories. For example, home professionals can list their services on sites like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List.
7. Cross-Promote With Other Local Businesses
If you offer a special or promotion to your customers, then you’re only going to reach the people who already know about your business. But if you AND another business offer a promotion together, then customers from both businesses are likely to hear about it.
A local restaurant, for instance, could partner with a nearby movie theater for a “dinner and a movie” special.
8. Start a Referral Program
A referral program could be as simple as giving a satisfied customer a few extra business cards and asking them to refer their friends.
Or you could offer a bounty (discount or award) to the referrer and even to the customer being referred. Say you’re an interior designer. You could offer a $200 credit to past clients who refer their friends and an equal discount to the referred client.
9. Introduce Yourself to Local Media
Offer editors and journalists your expertise in topics related to your business. For example, an HVAC company might be able to provide some quotes for a local newspaper about how to lower heating costs in the winter.
You can also send out press releases to suggest article ideas, especially if tied to a current news event. Be persistent, but don’t annoy editors by being too pushy.
10. Host an “Experience” Event
Don’t just hold a sale – turn it into an “experience.” Host a Friday night sale where you offer beverages and live music. This makes it an enjoyable experience for shoppers. Invite your social media followers and reach out to local media to share information about the event.
Read more about April 2017's newsletter.
Five Ways to Give Your Business A Strategic Refresh
used with permission from SBA.gov by Tim Berry
Do any one of these five simple refresh ideas and you’ll help yourself manage your business goals, growth, and execution. Do all five and you have a perfect lean business plan.
Strategy is focus. It’s what you do and what you don’t do. It’s who is in your market and who isn’t. It’s how you’re different, and you hope better, than your competition. Take a step back from the day-to-day details and look at the long-term course of your business. Don’t do a big text, but do write down your key strategy points in bullets, do use as reminders.
Here is a simple strategy framework for any business.
- First, think about your identity as a business. That’s what makes it unique. It’s strengths and weaknesses, core competence, history, and long-term branding.
- Second, your target market. Think about an ideal customer. Remind yourself who isn’t a customer, and why. Don’t try to please everybody. Try to please your specific target buyers.
- Third, think about your business offering. That’s what you do, as a business; what you sell. Relate that to your identity. Relate that to your target market.
Ideally, the three strategy poles work together. The mesh. Write some points down to remind yourself later.
The benefit of doing a simple strategy refresh is staying focused and on course. As business owners, we want to do everything for everybody; but that doesn’t work. Trying to please everybody is a ticket to failure. Your business offering should match your identity and your target market. But we get involved in the day to day, and we forget.
Tactics are how you execute strategy in everyday business. They are decisions you make and follow about business basics including pricing, delivery, channels, promotion, personnel, policies, and so forth. Set down your most important tactical decisions in bullet points and consider whether they match strategy.
The benefit of comparing tactics to strategy is strategic alignment. What you do with tactics match what your strategy is. So, for example, you make sure your pricing matches your tag lines and key marketing messages, and suits your identity, target market, and business offering.
Refresh the Key Metrics
Metrics are those numbers you can use as indicators of business growth and general health. The obvious ones are sales, costs, and expenses; plus profits and cash flow. But aside from those, every business has metrics it runs on, and you want to define those for your business to help you manage better.
Look for numbers that anybody on your team can see and understand, and refer back to, and work towards as goals. Aside from accounting there might be unit sales, customers, repeat customers, percent of sales from new customers vs. existing customers, calls, leads, closes, closing percentage, traffic, views, unique visits, conversion rates, subscribers, minutes per call, attendees per seminar, blog posts published, tweets, twitter followers, re-tweets, likes, and so forth.
The benefit is that managing by key metrics gives you, and your team if you manage a team, something to shoot for that is objective and measurable. You can track progress over time. And you make good and bad results visible, and actionable.
Milestones are events, achievements, and accomplishments that a business can work towards. It could be the big promotion, the new product line, the website refresh, or metrics-base milestones such as 100 or 1,000 subscribers, a $100,000 sales month, the new menu, adding an additional service, or whatever works. We set milestones because people work better towards reachable, manageable goals, than just vaguely towards a better future.
A few good milestones for the near and medium-term future are good for focusing a business on the right kind of progress.
Refresh Your Forecasts
For most people, it’s automatic. When you do a sales forecast, or spending budget, you think of the big picture while you do. You have strategy and tactics in mind.
Most businesses run with projected profits and cash flow. Forecasting profits means forecasting sales, direct costs, and operating expenses. We have posts on this blog to help you, including this one and this one on sales forecasting, and this one on cash flow.
Business forecasting is not just for MBAs and CPAs. All business owners benefit from a simple forecast. Don’t think it’s supposed to be very accurate; it’s about getting your assumptions into an organized form, understanding the drivers, and setting up something you can track monthly with plan vs. actual analysis that leads to revising and refreshing often.
Read more about April 2017's newsletter.