Local businesses have gained lots of new marketing opportunities thanks to the Internet. In fact, local marketing remains one of the few marketing areas that still gives competitive advantage to small businesses who are able to compete with big corporations for area-specific search exposure.
It’s a shame that many local businesses are still unaware of all those opportunities, so here are a few opportunities:
1. Utilize Social Media
Social media has become a tool that is one of the very first I always turn to in my arsenal. Because of that fact, keeping up with the latest trends (and learning to either follow and ignore based on their quality) is a normal part of my job. I am always excited when I see a new pattern emerging that looks like it will be here to stay.
Use your social page (usually Facebook) as a primary business link. You will then customize it to be as lead generation/conversion friendly as possible and encourage your audience to follow links to your actual website.
A note about using this method before we break down the best practices: it can be tricky. Social media is without a doubt a valuable tool, but it can be a wild stallion in a barn of tame horses. Anyone can wander over to your page and cause trouble. Someone could post on accident thinking it is their personal account. A disaster could occur and no one could know about it for hours, or even days.
In other words, if you are going to be hinging so much of your strategy on a social media page, you had better be ready to really nurture and cultivate it. After all, it will be working as a dual purpose tool, addressing the customer relations side as well as the conversion side of your brand’s efforts.
Speaking of social media, it is a simple way to get links out there. Not only on your own site, but also on other people’s profiles. A local coffee and boba shop was trying to bring some attention their way shortly after launch. They started offering a 20% discount on customer’s next drinks for anyone who posted a photo of their order with a link back to their company page. It led to not only a lot of web traffic, but a lot of foot traffic in their store.
Use a powerful social media marketing dashboard to organize and direct your efforts where they need to be directed. Cyfe offers a powerful social media dashboard for you to put many aspects of marketing under one roof:
2. Get Involved With Local Communities
There is a local atheist organization that holds a ton of events for both members and wider community outreach. But they have trouble finding venues that will sponsor their events because the area is largely dominated by a specific religion.
Local companies have offered up space, food and merchandise for this group, and as a result end up with regular links on websites, social media, meetup groups and even in newsletters.
Getting involved with local communities is the only way to come across opportunities like this. As they say,
3. Utilize Local Directories
Lots of people check their preferred local directories to discover local businesses to buy from, because people love supporting their local community. Being listed is usually the key to getting discovered and finding your loyal customers. Here are a couple of powerful platforms to use:
- DirJournal: One of the highest-quality local directories out there, this one reviews every site carefully and only allows the best of the best to get listed.
- CitySearch – Add in local cities, choose your category and go searching through whatever is nearby. CitySearch is a popular and well organized tool that lets users sift through businesses wherever they are and give them a try based off of descriptions on the site. They also have a section for popular local businesses, which makes an awesome feature.
4. Start An Affiliate Program
Do you sell items from your blog? Do you run some kind of service? Are you making a fair amount via ad revenue? For those more established brands it may be wise to start an affiliate marketing program for these influencers.
Yes, it is a big undertaking and requires a new business model for some. But remember that you are building something long lasting for the future, not something for where you are now. Many blogs have managed to create entire business brands based off of a single product and an affiliate marketing program that puts selling that product in the hands of influencers.
Setting up an affiliate program is easier than you think! Simply choose an affiliate marketing plugin that works for you and off you go!
5. Really Utilize YouTube
YouTube is one of the most useful marketing tools that has ever been created. Videos have such an extreme reach that a single viral video can launch a brand forever into the limelight. Local businesses should be using it as much as possible to get the many benefits the platform can provide.
A great example of YouTube being used by a local business comes from a pizza restaurant not far from my home. They wanted to increase their visibility with the local community while gaining steady traffic to their social media site and official website.
They told local high school students that they could get a free large pizza with their choice of toppings if they shot and submitted a YouTube video that mentions their restaurant. What transpired was a collection of often funny, sometimes cheesy, always creative videos from hundreds of teenagers that all linked back to their sites.
While there was a cost (that is a lot of free pizza) it really paid off. Their improved them visibility in the local community, ended up in the local papers (both print and online) and got a whole new set of customers.
Do you have any more powerful local business marketing tips? Please share them in the comments!