For many small businesses, targeting potential customers in your immediate geographic area is crucial. While certain types of businesses can work virtually with customers almost anywhere, it’s unlikely that someone hundreds of km away is going to make a special trip to your children’s clothes shop or hire you to clean their gutters.
If your business relies on attracting a steady stream of local customers, then consider these marketing resources that can help you reach people nearby.
Chamber of Commerce
Many businesses join their local Chamber of Commerce so they can rub elbows with other businesses in the area. Keep in mind that Chamber meetings are likely to attract other business owners, so unless you’re in the business-to-business space, these are likely not your end customers.
Still, getting involved in your Chamber can be helpful for building strategic partnerships and relationships. If you’re a party planner, you might partner with a cupcake baker and a photographer to provide each other with referrals. Or if you run an interior decorating company, you might find it useful to connect with an estate agent or the owner of a furniture store.
Another reason to get involved with your Chamber of Commerce is that members get access to additional business services. Whether you want to learn more about the business landscape or receive special discounts from insurance partners, it can be found through their website.
Local Search NetWork
Let’s start with the ‘why’— specifically, why is local search important?
- 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase (TMP / comScore)
- 74% of internet users perform local searches (Kelsey Group)
- 61% of local searches result in purchases (TMP / comScore)
Think about that for a moment — three out of four people searching for a business are looking for something in their local area, and almost two out of three local searches result in a purchase. Local search is all about intent to buy. So if you want to catch those potential customers in their moments of need, your business needs to rank in the top of relevant search results.
Most people think search is just about the big name search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.) but that’s simply not the case. Discovery of local business through queries happens all over the internet.
Information about your business lives all over the web. Important details like your business name, address, phone number, category, services, hours of operation, and all the other information that matters to someone searching for a business can be found on hundreds of websites.
On average, people are almost three times more likely to discover information about a business on third-party intelligent services like Local Directories, Facebook, Google, Yelp and Citysearch than on the business’s own website. For restaurants, that number jumps up to almost 10 times!
Events can be an effective way to bring exposure and foot traffic to your business. There are two ways you can go about them:
- Create and host your own event, specifically around your business.
- Participate in an established event to leverage a built-in audience
Hosting a grand opening in the first few weeks or months of business operation is a perfect way to introduce your company to the community and increase your visibility in the area. Down the line, you can also host other events on important occasions such as your company anniversary or around themes like customer appreciation. Don’t forget to advertise your events for the greatest attendance. You can alert your local newspaper or ask that your event be promoted in the upcoming events section of your town website.
Many cities and towns also host other annual events that might make sense for your business. Find out from the town hall or Chamber of Commerce about holiday events or craft fairs, for instance. You may be able to serve as a sponsor or register for a stand to showcase your products or services. In addition to the onsite exposure, many of these local events also include vendors in their advertising or on their dedicated website. Having your business name, address and phone number listed on a high-quality, locally relevant site will increase trust by association. Similarly, if local trade shows make sense for your audience, look into the registration fees to see if you can showcase your business with a dedicated stand.
You can also increase traffic and goodwill through fundraising. Find a cause that you are personally passionate about or that aligns well with your business values, and partner with a charitable organisation. You can donate a portion of sales on the day of the fundraiser, or you can participate in existing fundraising efforts such as a gala, charitable walk or 5K race by sponsoring the event or donating a raffle item.
With more than one billion users and the ability to leverage group pages that directly reach your target audience, Facebook is one social media platform you should definitely include in your business’ marketing efforts. Here are some ways you can leverage Facebook:
- Start by following other businesses to understand their customer bases and posting strategy.
- Be sure to join any town-specific Facebook groups and ask for permission from the site administrator to post and then introduce yourself and your business.
- Facebook ads can be a powerful way to build a business page’s Facebook following so that you’ll have a place to promote events, special promotions or new products.