With the Internet expanding our marketing reach, it’s easy to forget that the importance of local renown. Even the biggest international brands started somewhere local. Whether you aim to dominate your local market or take over the world, these tips will help you build a solid foundation for growth.
Rack Up Those Reviews
Word of Mouth may sound like your grandmother’s business plan, but having customers say nice things about you remains as crucial as ever. Research has shown that the opinion of others is one of the main influences on what we decide to buy. Whatever industry you’re in, encouraging your customers to review your product or service is a great way to create an atmosphere of trust and satisfaction. The golden rule is never pay for reviews, but do make an effort to actively seek them out. A loud and proud review section on your website could be the way to go, or you could request reviews via email. When it comes to reviews, quality trumps quantity. A few bad ones will quickly spoil your reputation. But if you do get a bad review, treat it as an opportunity to build a relationship with a customer. Reaching out, hearing what they have to say and bending over backwards to please them might be the best bit of marketing you’ll ever do.
Get to Know Your Local Business Reporter
Most local print and online media outlets are crying out for local interest pieces. By crafting a good press release or even calling up your local reporter and telling them about the latest achievement or hire at your business, you’re handing them news on a plate! Remember, as a local business owner, you are an important pillar of the community. Media outlets know that it’s people like you who shape the story of your town or city. Take the trouble to strike up a personal connection with the editor of the business section. You will be surprised how valuable you can be to them as a source of business knowledge, an interpreter of trends and market projections, and a ready source of those all-important quotes. In return, they can help put your business on the local map and make you a well-regarded personality around town.
Show Up for Your Community
One of the best ways to create a positive reputation for your business locally is to demonstrate that you care about your community. As a business owner, you’re well positioned to step up and become a community leader. Reach out to local charities to find out what your community needs that your business can help with. When you’ve identified a need, think out of the box about how you can help. Donations are just one way to show you care. You could also roll up your sleeves and get involved, or stage community events. And if you are out there doing your bit, let your customers know. Telling your customers that you’re here for your community demonstrates that you don’t just exist to make a profit—you’re here to contribute. You’ll find customers are more likely to support you in turn. A staggering 99% of customers will pick a charity-supporting brand over a brand that pockets all of their profits.
Nail the Local Citation
If your bread-and-butter is local business, coming up in local online searches is an absolute must. Make sure your business is on all the available Local Business Listings your community uses. There are many local citation sites out there, and different sites will work best for your business. As well as listing on Google (duh) try sites like LinkedIn, Yelp, Bing and Foursquare. A search of your competitors will reveal where they are listed, so make sure you’re covering all those bases.
Network, Network, and Network
The importance of Networking for business is not a new insight, but attending an impersonal event after a hard day’s work can be a real drain on your energy without a guaranteed pay-off. As a business owner you’re all too aware that your time is your most precious commodity. The solution is to make your Networking count by selecting the right events. Before you grace an event with your presence, make sure it’s going to offer the opportunity to connect with your target audience. And less is more here—dropping in on every event can mean you’re not fully present at any of them. Rather choose one or two a month and make them count. Stay a while. Get to know people. Make an effort to connect.
Blog Like Crazy
Blogging is the magic word when it comes to increasing visibility online. Let’s say your business is the solution to your customer’s problem. How are they going to find you? They probably aren’t going to Google the name of your business or the specific words that sum it up. They’ll describe their problem and wait for Google to give them the solution. If your blog content is discursive and informative, chances are it will contain words and phrases that your customer is searching for. For example, if you run a designer clothing label, articles about fashion trends or the latest crop of Oscars dresses are more likely to contain search terms typed by your target audience than your ‘about us’ page. Blogging also signals to Google that you are regularly updating your website, which in turn pushes you up the search rankings. And if that’s not enough to get you blogging, go back to basics and think about traffic. If you’re a local business, you want as much foot traffic past your door as possible to increase the likelihood of drop-ins, and at the very least, make sure that people passing by on their way somewhere else will know where to find you. Similarly, increasing casual web traffic to your website translates to sales both now and down the line.
Whether you offer a service or trade, or sell your product online, your local customer base matters. Try these tips to help your business become a household name.