10 Smart Best Practices for Local Sales and Marketing Initiatives
The importance of local marketing for small business owners cannot be overstated. Although the Internet enables you to spread your message to the entire world, if your primary focus lies with creating a loyal group of customers in your immediate area, you’ve got to put in some extra effort. Not only is a local focus smart for business, but it also enables you to gain access to an entire community’s worth of resources, some of which may become lucrative business partners.
To ramp up your local presence, here are 10 of the best tactics to enhance your local sales and marketing efforts.
1) Local SEO
SEO is a vital element of local marketing because it’s virtually guaranteed to work. People who need a product or service in their local area will definitely use search engines to find solutions, so it’s in your best interest to make sure those potential customers find you. Incorporate long-tailed SEO terms (i.e., “coffee shop Long Island,” or “coffee shop near me,” instead of just “coffee shop”) so that your business is linked with your geographical location.
Localizing your SEO can also help if you’re using paid search. Since just local folks will search for you using geographically relevant long-tailed keywords, you’ll only pay for the customers that are the most likely to do business. Using local SEO is a great, cost-effective way to make sure people can find you when they need you most.
2) Facebook Advertising
Virtually every business is on Facebook these days, but not every business knows how to use Facebook advertising effectively. Facebook advertising is a low-cost way to expand your reach big-time. Instead of hoping people will search for your keyword, your ads will show up in the feeds of users who are considered most likely to be interested in your company, based on their location and demographics. Like localized SEO, Facebook advertising allows you to hit the important people without wasting time and money on marginal leads.
3) Third-Party Reviews
More than 80 percent of customers conduct online research before making purchases. And when they do this research, they don’t necessarily trust what you have to say. They’d rather hear unbiased and honest feedback from actual customers on sites such as Yelp. Having a listing on Yelp (and niche sites like OpenTable and TripAdvisor, if your industry calls for it) gives people the platform to objectively say how your business is doing, and it also allows you the chance to hear real opinions about your company.
4) Local Business Partnerships
One of the best parts about local business is that you can form mutually beneficial alliances with other businesses. Seek out companies that have the same target audience as your company, and see if there’s anything you can do for them. As a simple example, if you own a pizzeria, you can reach out to local birthday party venues and offer them a deal to become their official source for birthday party pizza. The sky’s the limit for the usefulness of these partnerships, so get creative and see how your fellow local businesses can help each other become even better. You may be surprised at the ways in which a company will help out your organization. But remember: it’s called a community for a reason. And the more valuable you are to other local businesses, the more important you’ll be to your community as a whole.
5) Appear at Local Events
The Internet is an ideal tool for local marketing, but it shouldn’t be your only tool. Why sit behind a computer when you can go out and meet your customers directly? Maintaining a presence at local trade shows and events is an easy way to be seen and to make connections with both customers and business partners. You’ll have the opportunity to get direct feedback about your company, and you’ll have the ability to demonstrate your industry knowledge in front of the people who will benefit most from your expertise. Speaking at local events can also help to spread your brand message and cement your status as a local authority in your industry.
6) Mobile Optimization
We all know everyone uses their phones more than ever. But did you know that mobile Internet usage now outnumbers Internet use on laptops and desktops? The mobile revolution is in full swing, and your site should reflect that. What’s even more important than the reasons to make your site mobile-friendly are the consequences for failing to do so. More than 60 percent of mobile users will leave your website if it’s not optimized for mobile devices, and they’ll look for a competitor with a more mobile-friendly site design. Furthermore, Google’s latest search algorithm heavily punishes sites without a mobile version, destroying your chances of success with local SEO.
7) Share Promotions in Local Magazines
Local magazines are full of relevant information from consumers. Coupons, sales and new product offerings are all put on full display so that residents of your local area can make educated choices about how to spend their money. Even if your business is conducted primarily online, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t appeal to offline customers through these local publications. It’s another easy way to reach out into the community and appear alongside the other businesses in the area, and it’ll help you gauge the effectiveness of offline marketing as it relates to your brand.
8) Charity Involvement
Embracing charitable endeavors won’t directly draw a dime to your business, but it’s a tremendous way to bring awareness to your company. It fills a large need in the community, and it also gives you the chance to tell the company’s story in greater detail. Show consumers why you care about a given cause, and it’ll portray your company in a more sympathetic light. It’s also a good idea to donate both time and money. Instead of just slapping your logo on the T-shirt for your local charity 5K run, set up a booth at the race and show people how much you care.
9) Customer Testimonials
A customer testimonial is different from a third-party review. In a testimonial, your website features the story of a customer and how your company helped to solve their problem. No matter what industry you’re in, a testimonial can really show off your humanity and your willingness to go the extra mile for your customers. The individual featured will feel a stronger affinity to your company, and he or she will show their testimonial to others, who may be more inclined to consider your solutions as well. It also sends a strong message that you care about your community and that you’re willing to feature real people on your website.
10) Keep Your Site Up to Date
Having an obsolete website is almost as bad as having no website at all. Your site shouldn’t simply exist; it should actively attract and engage potential customers. The site should be fast-loading and mobile-friendly, and it should be updated with relevant information that can help people right now. At the same time, it should always adhere to your overarching SEO principles so that the search engines will look favorably upon your site. In short, your site should be as ready as you are to wow your current customers and to earn the loyalty of new ones.
Put in a Little More Effort to Reach the Right People in Your Community
Local marketing is a cornerstone for most businesses, and your company should take it seriously. It’s very rewarding to see how your business can impact a community, but if you want to see real results, you’ll have to make your local sales and marketing a top priority. Make sure your website is always up to date and optimized for both SEO and mobile viewing. Take advantage of opportunities in the community, including partnering with local businesses. Remember the core principles of your company, and don’t be shy about supporting causes that matter to you. By excelling in all of these areas, you’ll provide a great service to your community; in addition, you’ll open up your company to a slew of growth opportunities at the same time.