6 Local marketing tips for small businesses

October 29, 2019

As most small business owners know, it can be a challenge to grow a local business, especially if there are big competitors in the same market. So how does the local shop that specializes in sports equipment compete with the big box athletics store? And how does the neighborhood hardware store survive against the giant home improvement centers? Successful small businesses know that grassroots marketing is the key.

1. Up your small businesses game online

Large or small, every business needs an online presence to compete locally. Kick up your marketing by emphasizing local products and highlighting local reviews on your website.

Why is this so important? A survey by the Pew Research Center found that about 80% of Americans shop online. That’s up from 22% in 2000. The increase in online shopping doesn’t have to mean a decline for local business – in fact, it can be just the opposite.

Here are a few ideas to jump-start your local online marketing efforts.

The digital marketing agency Tinuiti recommends using hyper-local keywords, even down to neighborhoods and street names. Consider writing blog posts that are targeted to customers in specific areas. Do you own a retail shop, for instance, that’s within walking distance of several neighborhoods? Point out some of the attractions your customers will see along the way.

Make social media work for you. Hootsuite offers a host of suggestions for connecting with local customers. Think about using photos of your customers to show how they use your product or service.

Monitor local social media accounts. Many of these won’t allow advertising on their pages, but you can respond to people looking for recommendations.

2. Don’t leave your reviews to chance

The Pew Research Center survey found that more than 80% of Americans turn to online ratings and reviews when they are buying a product for the first time.

In addition, 46% of online shoppers say customer reviews make them more confident about their purchase decision, while 45% say reviews make companies more responsive to their customers.

Since reviews are so important to your business, it’s critical that they are favorable. Here are some tips to help you generate positive customer reviews.

  1. List your business on several platforms, such as Yelp and Facebook, for customers to leave reviews.
  2. Give your customers an easy-to-follow link – don’t make them work to provide their feedback.
  3. Respond to negative reviews – just as you should to the good ones. This creates goodwill with customers and shows your concern for solving any problems.
  4. Share positive reviews – they’re great for your bottom line.
  5. Give favorable reviews to businesses you work with – they might just return the favor.

3. Become a household name in your local community

To round out your strategy for growing your business through local marketing, it’s important to become a trusted community partner. Building lasting bonds with local residents is fundamental to bringing in new and repeat customers. Here are some ideas to consider.

4. Go for name recognition

Is there a local Little League team in search of a sponsor? Or a high school theater production that could use a donation? These were standard options before social media, but they’re still worthwhile today to build community goodwill.

5. Team up with local businesses

Look for ways your business would fit naturally with other local companies. Do you have a Pilates studio? Think about partnering with a local nutritionist for an evening of exercise and healthy eating information.

6. Promote local products

Another strategy that works is to boost and sell local products. One Dallas-based gift business told Forbes that although they source items from throughout the United States, they always stock gifts from Texas companies.

Want more business tips from other business owners? Check out the Hiscox Side Hustle to Small Business Podcast. We’ll see you there!