Many small businesses rely on local consumers or other local businesses for their revenues. In our experience, marketing your local business is best done by a combination of online and offline marketing actions. Here are a few tips for marketing your local business:
Claim, update, and monitor your local online directory listings. When was the last time you conducted a local online search for your business? Chances are your business information is floating out there, however it may be incomplete or incorrect. Claiming your business with online directory services allows you to take control of your reputation and provides visibility and credibility to online customers doing local searches. There are more online directory listings than we have room to list here, but here are a few we advise starting with: Google Places, Yelp, Yahoo Maps, Bing Maps, CitySearch and SuperPages.
Use location based services. You are probably already familiar with location based services such as Foursquare and Facebook Places. If you are a consumer focused small business with a retail location, you cannot ignore this marketing opportunity! Foursquare, for example, allows people to ‘check in’ at a specific location (your small business), therefore driving awareness about your small business to their friends and connections. Location based services also allow you, the small business owner, to connect with a local audience within 10, 20, or 50 miles of your business. You can even promote special offers to those people searching for products or services within your local area. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Client referral programs. Tapping into your existing client base is 6 times less expensive than generating a lead from an unknown source. A great offline way to market your local small business is to offer special incentives to clients and customers who refer their friends. Statistics show that people are most likely to buy products and services based on a referral from a trusted source. Word of mouth is the #1 way that people are searching for small business products and services, so take full advantage of the opportunity to ask your current clients and customers to recommend your small business, and incentivize them to do so!
Cross promotion. Another great offline way to market your local small business is to partner with other local businesses in your area who offer complementary products/services to your small business. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, consider approaching the local jewelry stores, wedding dress shops, and wedding coordinators to develop a mutually beneficial way to advertise each other’s services. Co-marketing with local businesses that share your same prospect audience is an excellent way to leverage the return on your marketing investment.
We have just touched briefly on a few of the many different ways to market your local small business. Let us know if you would like more information about any of these marketing tips. We would love to share how you can optimize your local market opportunity!