The bad news may be that you don’t have the extensive marketing dollars that big-box competitors do, but the good news is that a successful marketing campaign can cost you less than you think because consumers are already primed to choose a local business first. Vast, impersonal conglomerates turn off local consumers so take advantage by properly promoting your superior customer service and quality.
Believe it or not, 61% of consumers would happily pay higher prices to small businesses for the same goods and services. What’s more important to them is high quality, personal customer service and supporting the community. Knowing this, you don’t have to worry as much about cutting prices to remain competitive with big brands. Instead, your marketing campaign should focus on creating a relationship with your community using a few simple strategies.
1. Local Advertising
As a local business, targeting your audience is the key. Know your customer, and know where they spend their time in the local community. Figure out where the locals get their news, and specifically what sources your customers use. Some ideas to get you started are:
- Local papers and trade magazines– advertising space in local papers is a great way to support your communicate and promote your business. You may also try to convince local publications to write a story about you.
- Radio– Remember to target your audience by advertising on stations they listen to.
- Billboards– Busy commuter highways and popular commercial districts are perfect for billboard advertising.
- Local Listings– Make sure you’re in all your city’s major listings for similar businesses. You don’t want to be left out when someone is comparing companies.
2. Social Media
No matter what kind of business you have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram should be part of your marketing strategy.
Not only are these free, open platforms to advertise on, they provide your company a unique opportunity to communicate and relate with your customers. Once you have a well designed set of social media accounts, remember to advertise it somewhere, like on receipts. Many businesses add incentives to support them on social media, like a coupon.
Once you have social media followers, you can use your posts to promote, announce events, and engage in open dialogue with your customers about what they love, and what they’d like to see change.
3. Email Marketing
As a local business you can collect contact information from your customers in a number of ways, but how can you best use it to your advantage? Once you have someone’s email and their permission to be part of your subscription, the opportunity for email marketing begins.
Email marketing campaigns are based on the promotional and informational emails you send to customers, as well as fun emails like Thank-Yous and Birthday Wishes. Like social media, email marketing attempts to engage the customer with quality content to build a relationship of trust and loyalty.
According to a study in 2014, email marketing provides an average return per $1 of $44.25. Additionally, customers who have received email marketing spend 138% more than other customers. With numbers like those, you can’t afford NOT to invest in email marketing.
To automate the process of sending thousands of emails a month, businesses use email marketing software which allows you to easily create beautifully designed emails you can integrate with social media, Paypal, your own landing page and more. They provide you with form-builders so you can continue collecting subscribers and information about your customers, keeping you one step ahead.
4. Online Accessibility
Being on social media and having an email marketing campaign are great when you already have a customer base, but in order to build one you have to be immediately accessible on multiple online platforms. What does that mean?
- Join Google+ Local, Yelp, LocalTabs and BookMyCity. Do research to determine industry-specific searches that exist for your business, and sign up! These are just like paper-directories.
- Consider CPC ads, or Cost Per Click. You pay every time someone clicks your link, so you only pay for what you get in return!
- Make sure your website is Search Engine Optimized.
Remember, people want to support your local business because it reflects the community and provides personal service. Make your marketing fun and creative, using the local flair your customers want.