There are many things that you can do to increase the number of customers that walk through your door. Some of these tactics include advertising, social media marketing, and more traditional methods such as word-of-mouth or referral marketing.
With all the different ideas for local marketing strategies, it can be hard to know where to start. This article will give you dozens of ideas to try. It will help you figure out how you want to approach marketing your local business and find the most effective tactic for your industry and area.
The best thing about local marketing is that there are so many strategies to choose from. And some of them work really well together. The secret is to test a lot and figure out what works in your market effectively.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to increase customer count is spending a lot of money on advertising without first researching what has worked for others in similar industries. One way you can quickly find out what works and doesn’t work with local advertising is by talking to people who have already used these tactics, like other small businesses in your area or even local competitors (yes, I’ve even called them up to ask on occasion).
In addition, if you are looking for tips on how to increase the number of customers that come into your store, fill out your lead form, or ring your phone, then keep reading!
What Is Local Marketing?
Local marketing targets an audience based in the same town, region, or even distance from your business. Every local marketing strategy is geared towards reaching people within a certain distance of your physical business location or how far you’ll travel to them.
For example, if you run a restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, driving website traffic from Los Angeles, California, is not going to do you much good. A subset of local marketing includes local search marketing or even local digital marketing and strategies specifically designed to ensure potential customers find their way to your business through online searches for products and services that are also location-based.
Local SEO focuses on optimizing content, so it shows up where potential customers will look for which is likely search engines, specifically Google. That means ranking in organic searches as well as business searches and Google Maps searches.
This is an example of an extremely valuable local search and one that any business can achieve for free.
This is an example on a computer, but mobile searches are very similar. The green areas are completely organic and don’t cost anything to remain there though they are sometimes difficult rankings to achieve.
Localized search results pages near the user’s current location as well as maps listings when users enter keywords related to what they’re looking for into Google Maps or other map-based tools like Yelp or Bing.
Local marketing spans a lot more than online, though. Many of these examples span all types of marketing you can do to reach local customers.
That’s what local marketing comes down to in the end. It’s any type of marketing strategy that focuses on local customers.
Aren’t All Searches On Google The Same?
Thinking that a search is a search is a search on Google is a common misconception. Many people think that Google is psychic and knows exactly what you’re talking about when you search.
You know, they might think hey, I’m an auto body repair shop that works on Mercedes, so I need to rank for Mercedes. Google is pretty smart, but it’s not that smart.
No, Google is really smart and knows when a search is local and when it’s not. But it’s not so smart that it’s going to connect Mercedes with an auto body repair shop for Mercedes.
Google also knows to show the best result based on many factors beside location. But, trying to rank for just a city name or just a service name is difficult and can be confusing to search engines.
We get clients that when asking us to set up a list of keywords to track they’ll include the cities they serve. Nobody is looking for a plumber by searching for a city name.
Nope, they’re searching for “plumber” or even more likely something specific like “plumber in encinitas, ca.”
So, for local marketing to work at least in the online world, you have to be specific. You can’t just bid on general terms and expect to rank highly. You’re competing with too many other companies that way.
What businesses benefit from local marketing?
Pretty much any business that has a physical location, serves local customers, or is a service area business and drives to their customer’s location will benefit from a good local marketing strategy.
No matter how much your business depends on the internet, local marketing is still valuable. Local SEO and search engine advertising can drive customers to a business that may not have otherwise found it online.
But local marketing goes well beyond the internet, which means any type of local business can benefit from at least some local marketing strategies.
Even if you’re a one-person show or have plenty of business you can also benefit. Relying on how things have always been is a good trap that will someday get you. When things change suddenly, and you haven’t invested in local marketing, then you might be in trouble.
So, no matter if you’re super busy, the phone is ringing off the hook, or whatever, local marketing is essential. If you’re a local business and serve local customers, then your business will benefit from reaching your local market with local marketing strategies.
These local marketing ideas will help you find the best strategy and reach more customers whether online or offline. Just not the phone book. Unless your audience is seniors, then the phone book is dead, even then it’s likely still dead.
37 Ideas For Your Local Marketing Strategy
These ideas will help you reach and engage with local customers. As with all local marketing, the ultimate goal is to get in front of more local customers and rank higher in relevant local searches.
Local marketing can take place out in the world or online. These ideas focus on both but some of the easiest and cheapest to attain are online. That’s where we’ll start with these ideas to up your local marketing strategy.
Be Everywhere Online
While search engines like Bing, Yahoo and others may seem to be competitors to Google, the fact is that most people start their online searches on Google. So make certain your business is listed correctly with Google first.
Once you’re in there, make sure to fill out all the details about your business, so you show up in the right searches on Google. While Google is smart, it’s not a mind-reader, so be specific and don’t leave anything up to chance.
Beyond just getting found by a customer searching on Google or other search engines, it’s important that customers can find you elsewhere also. Not only that, but Google looks at other websites in order to determine their rankings.
That means it’s also important for your business to be listed with accurate and consistent information elsewhere too. Google even looks to your own website for authority, so it’s essential too!
You can see how well your business is listed online with a free business scan. When you’re ready to fix things, then we recommend you use a tool to manage all your business listings and more.
Build Trust Online
A BrightLocal study found that 49% of people trust consumer reviews online as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. If you want to build trust online then you need to get as many reviews as you can.
In fact, reviews are extremely important for your Google business listing, Yelp, and Nextdoor too. They are what drives business to certain companies and also what contributes to ranking higher and getting more customers.
If you want more people to leave reviews about your business online (and why wouldn’t you?), there are some steps that you can take. We put together some tips to help you get more reviews on Yelp without breaking their rules and also more recommendations on Nextdoor.
So, be sure your business is listed everywhere important online and getting constant reviews to build trust online. Fresh reviews mean more trust online.
Improve Your Website
Your website is an essential part of your business online. There are several things you can do to improve your website in order to reach more local customers and convert them into sales opportunities.
Improving your website is one of the most important parts of every local marketing strategy. That’s why it’s included in our 3-step local marketing strategy for small businesses that also includes directory and review management.
Optimize & Localize Your Website (Yes, They Are Different)
An optimized website is key to driving traffic, but did you know that having a local-friendly website can also impact your search rankings? Having both an optimized and localized site can be the difference between showing up in Google searches or not.
Google wants a fast website that also has all the technical necessities for ranking (on-page SEO). That’s why when we build a website our focus is not only on speed but also make your website optimized for your location.
You should ensure that your website is following all the standard SEO best practices such as on-page optimization and good keyword research to inform your content from a perspective that will get your website in front of local customer searches.
Local SEO Is Different From SEO
Local search engine optimization is not just about optimizing your website to appear prominently in search results. Local SEO involves creating a website that will perform well in local searches.
While it may be tempting to optimize your new site for keywords like “plumber” or “restaurant,” those terms are too broad and competitive to help you at all. You won’t rank for them, and you’ll be wasting your time.
Instead, focus on specific keywords often known as long-tail keywords that are also local-specific. Long-tail keywords are at least three words long and local keywords have specifics to your area in it such as city, neighborhood, or even street.
You can use a tool such as Google Ads Keyword Planner to find local keywords that could be used by customers. For example, if you own a plumbing business in Los Angeles, enter “Los Angeles plumber” into the discovery section to see additional keywords related to “los angeles plumber.”
You’ll get all sorts of ideas for keyword variations and keywords you can target with your website content and content too.
See the additional keywords you can discover?
They may not all be relevant, and you’ll see their prices for ads but ignore that, you’re just using the tool for ideas.
Set Up A Landing Page For Each Location
If you operate a business with multiple locations, it’s important to ensure that each one of those places is listed on your website. You may want to refer to our article about how to best handle a multiple-location business website.
This can be helpful for businesses with multiple locations since customers may want to look up the hours, contact information, or services offered at different locations.
If a customer can’t find the information they’re looking for, then they’ll likely move on. You can even link to each location page in individual Google Business Profiles which helps ranking even more.
Start Blogging, Locally
You may have heard that content is king. It’s true to a certain extent, and you can do local targeted blogging which helps you not only reach local customers, it can help you build a local audience.
Blogs are a great way to create fresh and relevant content for your website, which search engines love. Plus, they’re an easy way to add keywords to your site, so people will find you when they search for those topics on search engines like Google.
Think about how you can tie in articles about your product/service and also specifics around your geographic area. That could be location, weather, events, etc.
Track Website Visitors
When you create a website, it’s easy to get caught up in how your site looks and feels instead of what your visitors think. But if you want to get customers from your website, it’s not about looks or feels, it’s about conversion.
Your website can’t convert well unless you know what people are doing on it, which is why tracking visitors is essential. You need to see where they land, how long they stay, and where they’re dropping off. It could be that certain pages are poorly optimized or that people aren’t finding what they need and therefore don’t convert.
If your contact form or phone number is hard to find, you want to know. The only way you can know is by reviewing visitor information and then theorizing about what’s happening.
Google Analytics is completely free and setup on every Loclweb website. That makes it really easy to track website visitors and see how to improve your website. You’ll even see your stats in your included weekly report.
Research Local Keyword Opportunities
To get started, think of some questions users might ask while searching for information on your business. For example, if you’re writing a post about how to maintain beautiful skin, potential user questions might be: “How can I make my skin look younger?” or “What causes wrinkles?”
Brainstorm answers and write them down in the form of sentences or phrases that people would type into search engines when looking for this kind of info. This will give you great ideas to write content about and also to use in Google Ads Keyword Planner.
These research sessions will turn up lots of great ideas, and they’ll even build upon each other. You may find that you’ll end up with a dozen ideas after one short session. That’ll keep you creating new content for quite some time!
Optimize Your Website For Mobile
If you serve consumers, then your website traffic is likely mostly from a smartphone (more than 50%). If you serve businesses, then your traffic is probably 50%+ desktop.
Neither of those numbers really matters, though, because Google simply hates websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. It’s a ranking factor and your website won’t show up in a lot of searches unless it’s mobile-friendly.
Not sure if your website is mobile-friendly? Check out this article we wrote about how you can tell if your website is mobile-friendly and what to do if it’s not.
Engage with the Community
Community engagement is a cornerstone of local marketing for small businesses. Think about it: when people feel part of something bigger than themselves, they’re more likely to support that cause or institution, and in turn, your business.
So what does community engagement entail? It can be anything from sponsoring a classroom at an elementary school to donating food or helping out during the holidays. It could even mean holding events such as festivals and contests throughout the year.
In short, it means engaging in ongoing activities that build relevance and goodwill within the community. The more you get out there and engage with the community, the more well-known you and by extension your business will be.
Establish Local Business Friends
If you’re starting a local business, consider networking with other small businesses in your community. It’s always good to spark up complementary relationships.
Think about it, a photographer making friends with a local marketing agency. They could refer business to each other and be great partners/friends.
You may be able to start an informal referral network and share customers. Go to as many networking events and business events as you can. You never know when you might meet someone who could change the course of your business!
Improve Your Chance Of Getting Referrals
What better way to generate new business than from the people who already enjoy your product or service? Word-of-mouth marketing is free and carries no advertising costs. All you need to do is devise a plan that encourages referrals.
Here are a few ideas:
- Provide incentives for existing customers to refer their friends, family members, neighbors, acquaintances or anyone they think might be interested in what you offer.
- Offer them something attractive but not so valuable that it’s worth paying for (such as discounts, free products or services).
Make Staff Your Ambassador
If your employees are proud of their work at your company, or you’re best friends, they’ll want to talk about it. Getting them involved in content marketing efforts like creating a video or being interviewed for an article is a great way to get staff talking about themselves and the company as one unit.
A behind-the-scenes video can be fun and interesting, showing what life is like at your organization on a typical workday. Or you could create an advertisement with customers and staff members portraying different roles; this would not only show how much people love working there but also spread awareness of what’s offered by the business (and recruit new customers).
Be Public About Your Marketing Collateral
I’ve never met a real estate agent who hasn’t “accidentally” left their business card in any public place they can that wouldn’t be considered littering. Coffee? Leave a business card on the table. Business card raffle? Shove one in there!
Local restaurants, cafés and supermarkets are great places to leave your marketing collateral. Restaurants and cafés often have bulletin boards where you can pin flyers, or they may let you put a stack of business cards on their entrance table.
This works best if your business complements the other company’s. For example, if you own a graphic design or photography studio, perhaps a local art gallery or non-profit arts organization would let you leave marketing material in their establishment.
However, be sure not to take up too much space. Other businesses need room for their message too! Think about how long each place will keep your materials as well: grocery stores tend to throw away flyers within days while some businesses post them longer term.
Tell Your Story And Tie It In Locally
Stories are a powerful way to engage people in your business. They help you to connect with prospects and customers on an emotional level, which can lead to increased sales.
Sharing your story gives prospects the opportunity to see themselves using your product or service and makes them more likely to buy from you. Tying local events or how you’re connected to the community into your story also allows you to show that you are committed and connected while making yourself memorable at the same time.
Host A Local Event
In order to get the word out about your event and attract people, you’ll want to reach out to locals who could help promote it. That could be bloggers, journalists, influencers, or whoever may be interested in covering it.
You will likely get event coverage and possibly even a link to your website. Be sure to include as many details as necessary when contacting someone, so they know what they are writing about.
You will also want to contact local newspapers and magazines and see if they’d be willing to write an article or feature your business in some way on one of their pages or blogs.
Don’t Waste Emails, Market To Them
Start by collecting emails at the point-of-sale (POS) in your store. People are often happy to give their contact info for special offers, but be sure you don’t violate any laws about how you collect that data.
With previous customer’s emails, you can send future promotions, events, and more to instantly market to customers who are definitely interested in your business.
Offer a Free Consultation or Advice Session
A free consultation or advice session helps customers while also providing something of substance to potential customers at no cost. This strategy is particularly effective for businesses such as accounting, law, and financial services that have specific knowledge to share. If you own an accounting service, for example, offer to spend one evening offering a free tax workshop at the local library in exchange for some publicity about your business.
You can also offer simple consultations on blogs and social media sites where you can help others. For instance, if you’re a veterinarian with expertise in canine behavior problems, give tips on social media once a day.
You can also offer things like offering to bring a potential client to coffee for a chance to pitch them on your services. If you’re an excellent salesperson then this could be an effective way to bring in leads and convert them into customers more effectively.
Another way to get exposure through this platform is by creating YouTube videos. You can reach a huge audience with YouTube that’s not necessarily local but can get you exposure. It could get your website more links which is always valuable even if they aren’t local.
Get In Local News
Local journalists may welcome the opportunity to interview a local expert such as you. To get your foot in the door, send an email pitch or call offering yourself as a source on a topic related to what you do. Include information about yourself and links to relevant articles that highlight your work.
If there’s been recent news relating to your industry, let them know. This will give them another reason why they should talk with you and feature your expertise in their story. Treat it like any other business communication: keep it short and sweet and proofread carefully before sending.
Once you’ve gotten some press coverage for yourself, remember to use it! Share it on social media and possibly even include it on your website.
Collaborate With or Contribute To Local Bloggers and Journalists
First, find local bloggers and journalists in your area. There are many ways to do this – a simple Google search for “blogger [city, state]” or “journalist [city, state]” yields a number of results; the same goes for sites like Twitter (using either “local” or the name of your city as keywords).
Once you’ve identified some folks who might be able to use your business’s services and products, contact them directly. Be sure to identify yourself clearly when reaching out. Don’t just pop up on someone’s radar asking if they’d like free stuff! Instead, mention something that has already been published about you online, so potential collaborators know why you’re contacting them specifically and have reason to trust that it isn’t some kind of spam message.
Get You Or Your Business On Local TV
First, identify your target audience, whether it is people who are looking for a new restaurant in town or prospective clients of your accounting firm. Next, find one or two segments that would be relevant to them (for example: a cooking segment if you own a restaurant). Then pitch the idea of having you appear to the producer of those segments as something worthwhile for their viewers.
Be sure to explain why whatever segment you’re pitching would benefit their viewers.
Partner with Another Business
Partnering with another business requires deeper involvement with other local businesses. But, it can definitely lead to more referrals. For example, if you’re in the plumbing and electrical business, consider partnering with a carpenter or someone who installs wood flooring.
Or make an agreement to refer customers when they need each other’s services, such as plumbers referring carpet cleaners and contractors recommending painters.
Sponsor Something Local
Sponsoring a local charity or kids event is a great way to get more local visibility. Most places who are sponsored will put that business on marketing collateral. This could include anything from t-shirts, posters, or banners.
Some sponsorship opportunities will even score you a link which will increase your search ranking over time. It’s also a great opportunity to help out organizations in your area and build positive relationships with those groups.
Join The Local Chamber of Commerce
Joining the Chamber of Commerce in your local area can be a great way to network with fellow business owners and make new friends. There are always events going on that help you connect and learn new skills.
Most chambers of commerce also have a business directory that provides your business with a local link. That will help your website rank too.
Run A Contest
Running a contest on Facebook for a local audience is a great way to get people excited about your business, and increase fans. But there are several things you should keep in mind before doing so.
First, the most important thing is that your potential clients must be aware of what they are going to win, otherwise, it will end up being a waste for both parties. The second consideration has got to do with timing: make sure you don’t run an ongoing contest as it could alienate some people due to its repetitiveness.
Your contest needs to be relevant to your local audience, and you also need to make sure it’s clearly for locals and not a nationwide contest.
Encourage Customer Loyalty With A Program
The goal of your loyalty program should be to reward customers for their business, and then encourage them to come back again. Consumers love free stuff and are far more likely to shop at stores with customer loyalty programs. They also tend to spend more when there’s incentive to do so.
Additionally, you can attract new customers by offering a sign-up bonus or promotion while they’re signing up for a loyalty card. The key is making sure it’s something easy enough for the customer to earn quickly, so they can start enjoying rewards right away!
There are many ways your company might set up its own loyalty program, such as a punch card. This is one of the easiest options available because it requires very little work on behalf of the retailer and provides instant gratification.
However, this format doesn’t work well if you want to gather information about individual customers who participate in your program.
Post Interesting Things On Social Media
You can post many things on social media, including behind the scene information, new promotions, etc. You can even show how your product is made or perhaps something new that just came in.
Also, you can post tips or things that your customers can do with your product/service. An HVAC contractor could create a short post that helps potential customers do something simple that’s not worth much to the contractor anyway.
Use Local Hashtags
Hashtags are a very simple way that you can engage with your local community and find new customers. Hashtags, when used correctly, make it easy for people to discover your business or brand on social media by finding other users talking about similar things nearby.
You’ll be able to use hashtags to not only attract the attention of those in your area but also search for posts that are trending in your area, and you can piggyback off of.
Tap Into A Local Influencer’s Audience
One way to get the most out of social media marketing is by working with local influencers in your area who have established followings on relevant channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and many others. By paying them to promote your business on their distribution channels, they will be able to reach new people within their target audience that would otherwise not hear about you.
Create An Affiliate Program
Referral programs are a great way to give incentives to customers for referring your business to others. When done right, it’s free marketing, but it can be a lot of work too. It’s a good way to get your customers in on your business and benefit from your success also.
Try Direct Mail
Direct mail is often used by businesses to target specific demographic groups. You can work with the post office to create a direct mail ad and target the area you’d like. It’s a great way to get directly into your audience’s mailbox and can be extremely affordable also.
Localized Paid Ads
Invest in localized advertising campaigns that target specific areas. This could be a newspaper, magazine, locally targeted online ads, or any other form of local advertising. You can advertise on nearly every social media network in a specific area.
Even Yelp and Nextdoor allow you to advertise in local areas. We put together an entire article about how you can use Nextdoor ads to reach local customers.
Fine Tune Local Ads Even More
If you are not yet using call-only ads, then we recommend that you give them a try. Call-only ads are a good way to filter out robots or spam by having customers call you directly instead of disappearing onto your website and not doing anything.
You can even limit advertising to a specific timeframe such as during your open hours. If you’re a restaurant, then maybe you want to advertise to people in your area during the hours before lunch for a specific lunch promotion.
You can make your ads very local and very specific as if you’re speaking directly to your customer.
Try Out Photo and Video Content
It seems like everyone is going more visual. We’re all posting photos and videos on social media, and people are spending hours watching YouTube.
You don’t need expensive equipment or a huge budget to create compelling content; you just have to be creative! Show how to do something by taking photos as you go through the steps. Creating such content can help create curiosity with customers because it shows that companies care. It also allows consumers who are interested in your products an opportunity for involvement before purchasing anything from you.
Ask Happy Customers to Share Their Experience
Word of mouth is still one of the strongest ways to build brand loyalty and a solid reputation. In today’s digital world, social media can influence people more than any other form of advertising, whether users are on their computers or mobile devices. And happy customers may be more likely to share positive experiences with your business when they believe it will make an impact.
Even if someone doesn’t tag you in a post or mention you by name, if they’re talking about how great your company is on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, potential prospects might see it as an endorsement from someone they trust, and that could lead them over the threshold into becoming actual customers themselves.
Attend Local Farmer’s Market Or Trade Show
Attending local events and meetings can help your business gain more customers in the area. By making a personal appearance at these opportunities, you also have an opportunity to meet people face-to-face, which is always more effective than trying to advertise through marketing methods.
In addition, meeting potential clients will give you the chance to show them what makes your products or services special, something that may not come across in a brochure or print ad.
Create Local Guides
There’s no shortage of activities to do in your city, whether your customers live there or are just visiting. But when it comes time to plan an adventure, we often look online.
Local guides can help travelers discover new things to see and do around your area. Or for those who already know about the best spots, local guides will ensure that their favorite places stay relevant by highlighting newly opened restaurants, businesses and events that enhance a community’s sense of place—and keep people coming back for more.
Use that to your benefit and for website visitors and links!
Local marketing is essential for every small business. Otherwise, you’ll just be sitting around waiting for your next customer, wondering why they’re not calling.
Even if you have plenty of customers right now, that might not always be the case. It’s better to have to turn down customers than it is to be without entirely.
Use these ideas for new ways to reach a new audience and become more relevant in your local community. The more relevant your local business is, the more likely you are to get links, customers, and more.
It may take time and testing to find the right strategy for you, but these ideas will help you get started. A good website and local marketing automation are the first places you should start, though.