Local Marketing Tips for SMEs
There is a lot you can do online to promote your business to a local audience. Reaching potential customers in your area could be the difference between success and failure. They are likely to be your cheerleaders and regulars. During the strange period of lockdown a number of small businesses have done well with their local community. Nearly a quarter of Brits have used corner shops more frequently since the start of the coronavirus lockdown – the biggest increase for any type of store – according to a survey from pollsters YouGov.
If you are not located on someone’s corner how will your potential clients find you? A European survey found that 42% of SMEs changed their business model during the lockdown period. “Where before the crisis only half of the entrepreneurs made their products or services known online in one way or another,” the SNI said. “Today, eight out of ten entrepreneurs are now online in one way or another.”
There are several quick wins that anyone can do to help reach your local market through whilst they are browsing online.
Local Online Marketing Tips
There is a lot you can do online to promote your business to a local audience. Search engines, such as Google, tailor their results to reflect the area you are in. For example, if you want to find a painter and decorator nearby, a search will deliver those results. Making sure your digital marketing reflects your location is key if you want to take advantage of this.
The good news is that local SEO is simple to implement and can make sure you stand out from the crowd when it comes to these kinds of searches.
- Create a Google My Business Account: When you do a local search for a service or business, you get search results but also a Google map of choices close by. Follow the link to learn how to claim your business on Google
- Build Your Local Social Media Following: Being more focused on your social media engagement can also make a big difference. Encourage local people to follow you by including links on your promotional literature and in your shop or store. You should also join social media groups and engage with users. Not everyone will follow you but the more you can attract local fans and followers, the greater your reach will be
- Create Content for a Local Audience: It depends on what your business is, but the more you can produce content that is specifically aimed at your local audience the better. This can be done, for instance, by producing a regular blog, something that can also improve your standing on search engine rankings
- Keywords: If you have a website. First and foremost, creating a strong local online presence is including local areas in your website content. That can include your main site but also means developing specific landing pages for particular locations in and around your catchment area
Local Offline Marketing Ideas
While digital marketing certainly gets you noticed, so can those traditional offline methods of reaching an audience. This is particularly pertinent for those looking to create an impact locally and there are number of different approaches that have been shown to work.
- Word of Mouth: It’s one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. If you do a good job, then people are going to recommend you. For example, if you’re a builder and have fixed someone’s roof, make sure you leave a couple of business cards or a flyer when you finally finish. People should be pleased to pass your details on if you have done a good job
- Advertorials: You can do them online as well but they can also have an impact when used in hardcopy. Most local areas have their own newspaper and they’re read by a lot more people that you think. They’re also a lot cheaper nowadays to do – if you have a great news story you can often get it included for free
- Sponsoring Local Events: A little time and effort can make a big difference and sponsoring is one such endeavour you should seriously consider. If you have a local football or cricket team, there’s a festival being planned or some other event, investing in sponsorship can get your company name in front of lots of local people
- Print Media: We often forget about print media but it’s quite cheap to get nowadays particularly with many companies offering low-cost Print on Demand services. While you have to wait for people to come to your site online, you can improve visibility by printing out promotional literature and posting it through their letter boxes. This is no longer a prime marketing asset for other businesses and has been shown to produce a good response, especially if you target the right people
- Networking: Another way that you can improve the visibility and reputation of your business is by networking with other business owners in your area. Most local communities have these kinds of events – they’re great for spreading the word but also learning new tricks and getting the support you need
Mix and Match Your Offline and Online
One thing that many businesses fail to do is make sure that they have an integrated marketing strategy. If you are producing hardcopy promotional literature, then including a link to your website and social media accounts is important. The more you can get these two sides of the marketing coin working together the better you’ll be able to attract a local audience.
We often spend too much time nowadays trying to get our online marketing on track without understanding that offline has its merits as well. Particularly in a local situation, it is just as powerful and can help you reach those people who might not own a computer or smartphone but who would still like to use your service or buy your product.