When it comes to local marketing there are no set rules. Each community is different and each individual business has to adjust to its target customer base within that community. Still, there are some basics to marketing successfully to a local audience that cannot be overlooked. If you feel like the return on your local promotional initiatives is hit or miss, you may be neglecting some basics that can bolster your business and reputation in your community.
Here is a look at three common mistakes businesses make when it comes to reaching local customers:
No Web Presence. Even owners of longtime mom and pop establishments can benefit from a simple website or inclusion in an online directory. It is not often that a local business owner says he or she has "too many" customers. In addition to regulars, a web presence brings in new clientele that happen upon sites when looking for a product or service. Many websites cost very little to create and maintain, and results-driven online directories are affordable too. If you are truly at a loss on where to begin in building an online following, hire someone to help you. The money you invest will pay off over time and many companies offer a flat fee to maintain the site for you.
Remember that it is not enough to rely on word-of-mouth or traditional marketing techniques to bring in new local customers. Hanging your digital shingle in cyberspace is also vital and easier than ever to accomplish. Give potential customers the answers to their questions in an immediate way in order to win their business and not lose them to more visible competitors.
Difficulty to Find. This point is similar to having a lack of web presence but applies beyond the digital realm. If people do not know where you are located, they cannot give you their business. This means promoting your web location in addition to your physical address. Unfortunately, people are so programmed to find the answers to all questions immediately that they will not take the time to track you down if a competitor offers ease of information. Do whatever it takes to let people know where you exist, from web presence optimization to the signage outside your location to inclusion in web listings for your industry.
There is really no financial advantage to being an industry "best kept secret." Ask customers how they found you and how you can improve your physical visibility. Those that are most loyal to your business will want to help and will be honest with you. Do not lose customers to frustration or impatience at having to track you down, instead make it easy to find you and even easier to buy your products or enlist your services.
Lack of Community Outreach. There is a reason that people say "the more you give, the more you get." Find simple ways to give back to the community of your loyal clients and build your reputation for future local clients. Simple ways to get involved include sponsoring a local event, donating a product or service to a fundraising auction or volunteering at a local non-profit organization. Align your name with a cause that you believe benefits your client base and one that represents your business ideals.
Not only does outreach earn you the respect of the community, but it also creates a culture of social consciousness in your business, encouraging employees to reach out when they are off the clock too. You can feel satisfied knowing that you went beyond the call of duty to help the community and build a strong image of beneficence in the process.
Focus on local marketing does not have to be overwhelming. Find simple ways to reach out to your local audience through an online presence, easy-to-find location and outreach programs. By participating in just a few initiatives, you're taking down some of the barriers that may be holding your business back. This then allows you to increase your business and root yourself in your community.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com, one of the largestbusiness directories on the web.