Small businesses have to adopt different marketing and advertising tactics than their nationally active competitors, since they don’t have as much immediate brand recognition, nor do they have as many resources. Instead, they can tap into the power of locally-specific marketing—the art of improving their brand awareness and reputation within a specific city or area.
This is often more effective than other marketing tactics because it allows for a much smaller budget, caters to residents’ preferences for local businesses, and in many cases, is easier to execute. But if you’re new to the world of local marketing, you might be confused on how to start.
Easy Ways to Locally Market Your Business
Try these strategies to improve your business’s visibility and image in your local environment:
- Get involved in local events and festivals. First, consider taking part in local tradeshows, events, and festivals—especially if your business can be appreciated by the general public. You can usually sign up to be a vendor at these events inexpensively, and the cost of a portable garage or shelter (along with some other marketing materials) is negligible compared to the exposure you’ll get. People will associate you with the local event, and will be interested in engaging with you, whether it’s learning more about your organization or just having a conversation with you and the people who work for you.
- Sponsor a local sports team or rec organization. You can also get more visibility by sponsoring a local sports team, hobby group, or other recreational organization. The common target here is school-based groups, but you can also expand your horizons by sponsoring other interest groups—especially if they’re related to your business in some way. For example, if you own a shoe store, it makes sense that you might sponsor or support the local cross country team.
- Make friends with local journalists. Reach out to some local journalists and become acquainted with them. Let them know about your business, including any major events or changes you’re planning in the future, and make it clear that you’re available for interviews in the future. You never know when they might ask you for a contribution to a new piece, or give you exposure out of appreciation for your help. If you want to try this on a larger scale, you could also use HARO (Help a Reporter Out).
- Become a guest speaker. There’s no faster way to build both visibility and credibility for your personal brand than by becoming a guest speaker at local events. Most local organizations that try to host entrepreneurial or motivational events end up with a dearth of speakers, and would be happy to give you a platform, provided you have something worth talking about. If you perform well, you can work your way to bigger and higher-profile events, eventually headlining and gaining much more visibility for your business.
- Host your own events. Of course, you don’t have to rely on the events of others. You can also host your own events, especially if you already have the space for it. Consider putting together your own speaking event, with entrepreneurs you’ve met in the past, or host a coffee-based networking event to encourage more people to come out. It’s a chance to make new connections, and an excuse to show off your space at the same time.
- Network with other entrepreneurs. Speaking of making new connections, try to reach out to other local entrepreneurs as often as possible, at networking events and in their own businesses. Talk to them about owning a business in the area, and get on good terms with them. They may be able to help you find new opportunities to market your business, or they may be willing to exchange services in a kind of barter or trade. They may even want to pass new leads your way—assuming they aren’t direct competitors.
- Volunteer. Finally, volunteer for local causes whenever you have the extra time. It’s a good way to give back to the community and you’ll build good press for your business. Plus, it’s a perfect way to meet other like-minded people in your community.
The Personality Factor
In a local business, the entrepreneur and main staff are just as important, if not more so, than the core brand. It’s much easier for people to remember a face than it is for them to remember a logo, and they’ll be more willing to buy from someone they trust than some random corporate brand they’ve seen advertised a million times. Make sure you’re using your personal brands to build relationships with local residents, and show off the true character of your business in all these strategies.
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