(Paying homage to the Cheers theme song – great show!).
Anyway, I digress...
Marketing plans are often heavily focused on driving traffic to a website or social media profiles to generate leads or sales online. Whilst this is an integral part of a successful strategy, many businesses overlook a key market – their local area.
Local area marketing can provide a cost effective way to promote your products or services and drive customer loyalty and sales. If you are a physical bricks and mortar retailer or service provider, you would already know that most
of your business comes from people who live or work around you. Are you making the most of these connections?
Below are some local area marketing strategies to consider as part of your overall marketing plan:
Advertise in the local community newspaper – Create a branded advertisement with a special offer or alternatively try a classified feature. Do these as frequently as you can so that people become familiar with your brand and offering. Remember to make it measurable so that you can track its success. Redemption codes or coupons work well. Remember to track where your enquiries are coming from (How did you hear about us?) so that you can accurately assess your marketing efforts.
Distribute flyers through other businesses where your target market is likely to see you. My daughter’s childcare centre has a community noticeboard which has made me aware of local businesses I probably wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.
Mailbox drops are an effective and inexpensive way to reach your local market. Just make sure your collateral is eye-catching, consistent with your branding and includes a call to action. You don’t have to limit this to one suburb either - analyse where exactly your customers are coming from and target these areas also.
Sponsor a sporting team, community club, school fete or public event – if you support the community they will support you.
Organise a free information evening or celebration and introduce people to your service.
Network! Is there a local business network you can join and meet other business owners in the area? This may
lead to cross-promotional opportunities.
Local search marketing: Target local SEO words in your Google Adwords strategy. You may be focusing on 'Kinesiologist in Melbourne' for example which would be highly competitive search term so try including your exact location – 'Kinesiologist in Fitzroy Melbourne'.
Add your business listing to online directories, many of which are free such as Hotfrog and True Local. You should also consider listing offers and events on websites that list local businesses such as That’s Melbourne.
Start a loyalty program and reward people who frequently return to your business.
Support your locals – my yoga school for example has been generous enough to offer to include my services in their newsletter.
Are you using your store front effectively? Put up some posters or window decals so that people can easily see the promotions you have on offer.
Get some brochures or flyers designed and ensure these are in a prominent position for your customers to take. If you can, invest in an external brochure holder that will allow people to pick up your offer as they walk past.
Outdoor signage – can you put up a sign on the sidewalk to direct people into your business or promote a special offer? You may need to get approval from your local Council for this.
Location based SMS marketing – start a campaign that will enable your business to tailor SMS promotions to your SMS subscribers in real time if they are nearby. I have used Mobipost before for a successful restaurant SMS marketing campaign.
Add your business details and offers to Foursquare or Yelp and encourage reviews of your services.
Set up a referral program - word of mouth is one of the most powerful promotional tools. People that are loyal to
you will sing your praises regardless but it may be worth implementing a referral program to incentivise them. An example may be: Refer a friend and enjoy 20% off the next time you visit.
Don’t forget about local public relations. Most people target national media with their publicity efforts but it’s worth sending a press release through to your local news editor if you’ve got a story to pitch.
Get to know your customers and personalize their experience with you. Who doesn’t love it when a local cafe remembers your regular order? This also includes building relationships with other business owners around you. Engage and exchange. The locals will love you for it.
Local area marketing is a great way to reach the community, strengthen relationships and integrate your business into the lives of locals. Consistent local promotion is a foundation for your success.
Have you implemented any local area marketing strategies into your business plan? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below.