Local businesses have a specific goal: attract nearby customers. As a local business, your target customers are the people living, working, and traveling near your location. You need local marketing ideas to reach them.
Whether you operate a regional franchise or a small independent business, local marketing ideas that include word-of-mouth marketing, targeted digital marketing, and local SEO are essential for connecting with your local community and nearby customers.
Let’s consider some of the best local marketing ideas you can use to promote your business to the people who live, work, and travel around your area.
Even if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar location, having a presence in your local area can be a game changer for your business. These local marketing ideas will also work for you even if you work online or don’t have a physical storefront. Don’t overlook these opportunities.
Top 10 local marketing ideas
To connect with a local audience, here are ten local marketing ideas to try.
- Develop a referral network in your local community.
- Create a customer referral program.
- Host and lead local events.
- Attend networking events.
- Focus on local SEO.
- Maintain updated digital business listings.
- Incentivize customers to engage on social media.
- Target local customers with paid ads.
- Become a resource for local content.
- Sponsor local causes.
Keep reading to explore these ideas in greater detail and discover ways to grow your brand.
1. Develop a business referral network in your local community
One of the benefits of running a local business is the community you can create. As you build relationships with other businesses in your area, you can support one another by developing a referral network.
A referral network — where you send customers to businesses and they send them to you — is mutually beneficial. For example, real estate agents often rely on referrals from people within the community, while they refer other businesses for lawn care, home insurance and remodeling. The industries often overlap and both parties benefit from the referral.
Whenever you’re out networking in the community, ignite your local marketing ideas by collecting business cards from people and saving them for potential recommendations. When these businesses see that you’re sending them customers, they will keep your brand in mind for future promotions as well.
2. Create a customer referral program
Referrals don’t only happen between businesses. Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful driver of new customers to local businesses. Encourage customers to refer their friends by offering discounts and other rewards for referrals. This practice turns your top fans into brand ambassadors, lead generators and referral sources.
Make sure you track word-of-mouth efforts and where the referrals come from, so you can see the customers who have the biggest impact on your brand.
3. Host and lead local events
If you want to become a well-known resource in your community, identify what value you can provide to local business owners or residents and host a free local event sharing your information.
A few examples of local events include:
- A marketing agency hosting a half-day social media conference for local businesses.
- A pool installation/maintenance contractor hosting an event on pool safety for new parents at the local community pool.
- A mechanic teaching a class in their shop on the basics of car care and identifying problems to make their customers more informed.
Each event builds trust between your company and your local audience, while promoting your brand. This increases the chances the participants will call your brand when they need your services.
4. Attend networking events
Networking events are one of the best local marketing ideas for business owners who want to connect with other companies in the area and form strong partnerships. If you can’t find a networking group that you like in your area, create one of your own.
Some networking events are informal mixers where attendees mingle at a local restaurant or bar, while others are more structured with local presenters and business lessons. Find what works for your goals and brand needs.
5. Focus on local SEO
If you run a brick-and-mortar business, you don’t necessarily need customers across the country to find you. You don’t need someone in New York City to search and find your dentist’s office located in Miami. Instead, you want local audiences near your business to find you when searching, which is why local SEO is one of the best local marketing ideas.
Local SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing your online presence so your brand shows up when nearby customers search for keywords related to your business.
Related: Top local search ranking factors you need to consider
6. Maintain updated digital business listings
Another way to get local audiences to find your business through search is by setting up digital business listings.
A digital business listing is a profile for your business on an online directory. Directories may be general business listing sites like Yelp, Google My Business, and Apple Maps. Directories may also be specific to businesses based on their niche or location. For example, Angi is a directory that lists home-service businesses, and TripAdvisor is a directory for travel-based businesses.
Digital business listings help customers get information about your business. They are a powerful source for local reviews. And most importantly, they help customers find your business.
Customers searching on directory sites can discover your business, and each listing boosts your local SEO. Sites like Google My Business may even display your business more prominently in search.
A Google My Business listing is the most important digital business listing as it can produce rich search results when customers search for your business name or terms related to your industry and offerings. For more tips on setting up your Google My Business profile, check out Google Business Profile: The tool your small business needs.
As a business owner, maintain updated digital business listings to help potential customers find and choose you.
- Ensure that your business name, address, and phone number are consistent across all profiles.
- Update your hours, menu and contact information regularly.
- Link to your website from all business listings.
- Share professional photos of your location.
- Responding to both positive and negative reviews to show that you are listening.
As you can see, this isn’t a process that occurs once. Your team needs to monitor these local business listings constantly and answer questions and address any problems.
7. Incentivize customers to engage on social media
Referrals increasingly happen in the digital world. An easy way to tap into word-of-mouth marketing is to engage with fans on social media.
Encourage customers to share their experiences with your brand online. Ask people to check in, leave reviews or post photos. You can even turn your request into a contest and award prizes through drawings each month.
Use your physical business as an opportunity to invite customers to share their experiences online. Hang signage, set up table tents, or offer flyers that welcome customers to leave a review or check in to receive a reward or benefit from your business.
8. Target local customers with paid ads
While organic search and social media can drive customers to your business, you can attract even more attention by using paid ads to reach nearby audiences.
Paid social media and search ads offer location-based hyper-targeting options that allow you to reach customers based on where they are. Choose the location radius or ZIP code where you know your customers are, and run ads that reach audiences in those areas.
Targeted local ads are a great way to make sure you’re only spending advertising dollars on reaching local audiences who are most likely to visit your business.
Related: Facebook/Instagram Ads versus Google Ads — Which is right for your business?
9. Become a resource for local content
You can rely on paid media and public relations to promote your business, or you can build up a reputation where the media calls you. One of the often ignored local marketing ideas is becoming a go-to resource for media outlets.
Position your business as an authority in your industry who can share valuable insights and information. For example, a pediatrics office could be known as a leader for providing information on how kids can stay healthy while going back to school, or a wellness center could be the authority on tips for staying mentally healthy during stressful times.
To become a resource for local content, share helpful, valuable content through social media, blog posts and newsletters. Reach out to local news outlets and journalists, share your resources and offer to be an expert when they have stories related to your niche and expertise.
10. Sponsor local causes
If you want to connect with customers in your community, then you need to be a part of your local community. Local sponsorships and branded volunteer days are a great way to get your brand new in front of local audiences while also supporting initiatives, causes and organizations in your area.
Support local causes, events, and sports teams, and genuinely get involved with your business because you care. People can tell when a company is fake and doesn’t care about the community. If you walk the walk and help others around you, then your customers will be more likely to walk through your doors.
Use local marketing ideas to grow your business
Local marketing isn’t about connecting with the largest audience. It’s about connecting with the right audience.
Use these local marketing ideas to connect with the people living, working and traveling near your business. Promote your business to the customers who are most likely to visit, and you will drive more foot traffic, sales, and customer loyalty.
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