The Art of Local Marketing

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If you know nothing else about global and national ad campaigns, you can at least recognize that they reach large audiences. There are many benefits to the massive exposure of these campaigns but having this sort of reach doesn’t necessarily mean that the message did what was intended. Sometimes a global or national reach can make it difficult for the message to engage with one or more key audiences. So we must ask ourselves, is this a mistake or an opportunity? Brand managers have paid more attention in recent years to the idea of making a connection with key target audiences within the local community. This strategy is called local marketing and although it’s been around for a long time, it’s no longer just an opportunity for a brand’s success–it’s imperative.

Whether you are a local, regional or a national firm, one of the greatest advantages of local marketing is the connection to the community. People tend to trust local firms because they typically have a closer relationship and familiarity with the target audience. Being part of a community includes demonstrating an understanding of what life is like for people in that area. Consumers are more likely to listen and trust what local companies have to say because the context of the message is recognizable to them.

Good marketing is all about how well you expose your target customers to your products and services. Doing this with a local focus is more involved than placing a billboard in a high-traffic area or running an ad in the local newspaper. Depending on the marketing offer, it may be more beneficial for larger companies to market locally through targeted advertising. Different areas have distinct differences, and some of them can be advantageous to the promotion of your products and services. Let’s say you sell software that allows parents to filter what kind of content their kids see on the Internet. Local markets where parents actively engage in school and community events would be good focus areas for your software business. Aligning product and service offerings to local and regional demands allows marketers to learn a great deal about the customer and promptly make any necessary changes.

Jeremy Ellis, marketing director at TUI UK (Thomson) stands behind this approach. He says:

“It’s easy to write off regional titles and just go for national publications because you know you’re going to reach a broad audience, but you could get a better return on your money by targeting more specific audiences in local media, potentially at a cheaper rate.”

Of course, the right path for your business depends on your audience, but with the correct insights, this strategy could be an integral part of your customer acquisition process.

As for competition, technology has leveled the playing field by giving smaller businesses the ability to compete alongside more established brands. It’s now relatively easy to access a desired audience and interact with them through the use of social media channels, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, and website advertising. The Internet allows us to instantaneously do business with people and companies from all over. Ironically, the world has in many ways become “smaller.” This is a result of consumers’ increased interest in using the web to find information about firms in nearby areas. Let’s explore several ways businesses can get the most from their local marketing online and offline.

Claim and Optimize Listings

Most web searchers will typically resort to Google, Yahoo, or Bing, so it’s a good idea to secure your listings on all three of these search giants. You can optimize your listings based on location, business names and categories, custom fields, and business descriptions as well as by publishing a photo of your location. As for ranking in local search results, one of the easiest ways to do this is to set up a location-specific page on Google My Business. This helps promote your business in the local area and also directs local search engine queries directly towards your business’ website.

Take Advantage of Social Media

Advertising on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is one of the best ways to identify and target a specific audience. Facebook advertising can be tailored for hyper-targeted, local ads to reach niche groups. What doesn’t work as a national strategy may work really well locally, and tools such as social media advertising, Google PPC, and Keyword Planner make it easier to find that balance within your marketing plan.

Interactive Marketing

This method is pretty neat because it gives local marketing the upper hand. Interactive marketing responds to customers’ behaviors and preferences to produce more relevant marketing messages. With interactive marketing, customers have already shown an interest in the product or service by researching it, talking about it in online forums, social networking sites, emails, and videos. This online activity allows organizations to target their product or service offering to these customers. Whenever a customer is invited to give feedback, express their individual preferences, or provide demographic information, they are providing insights that marketers can use to refine their advertising efforts.

Interactive marketing can take various forms, but one of the most common is search engine marketing. The first step of search engine marketing is to determine the local keywords for your business. This should include your city, county, and regional area. Local businesses who have optimized their websites will typically appear on the first page when people do an online query for a product or service in the area. Using keywords is a necessary step to optimize your website for search engines which helps to ensure that your site ranks on the first page of results. You can survey your customers to determine which search terms they would use to find your type of business. These local keywords are a great way to differentiate your site from competitors outside the local market area.

Event Marketing

Okay, enough of the techy stuff. There are many ways to build the reputation of your business, and a great place to start is in the community. First, never underestimate the power of volunteering and participating in local events. Putting the name of your business on youth sports uniforms or ball fields, sponsoring or contributing to a school event or fundraiser, or having a booth at a local festival is a great way to stand out and promote your efforts in the community. Most towns have festivals or parades throughout the year, so set up a table and enjoy yourself. If it looks like you love what you do, people will want to know more about what you’re offering.

Another option is to donate to a local charity or organization, and there are various ways to do this. If you have a large, accessible space, you might consider donating its use to local groups. This shows the community that your business is a supporter of other organizations in the area. Nonprofit organizations will often offer companies advertising space in brochures and handouts for donating to their cause. Regardless of how your event marketing is best utilized, you should always try to stay informed on local news and capitalize on human-interest stories by either volunteering or donating to a local cause.

Humanize Your Brand

As marketers, our goal is to grow traffic, generate qualified leads, nurture those leads into customers, convert those customers into raving fans, and increase revenue. Ask yourself how you feel when you thumb through your company’s website, social media channels, or email marketing campaigns. Are these messages mostly promotional or are they engaging with visitors? Could your brand could be more successful if instead of pitching sales-heavy content, your website focused on buyer needs and solutions? Brands are created by humans for humans, so why shouldn’t they feel that way?

Let Your Hair Down

Whether you are part of a B2B or B2C company, you’re in the business of selling a product or service to people, but don’t just sell them your product or service. “Sell” by providing information, education, and inspiration. Relate to people on a level they can understand. It’s perfectly okay to share some of the setbacks, challenges, and life lessons learned along the way. Your audience will appreciate stories of overcoming failure or how your business helped a customer overcome failure.

Also, don’t forget to instill a sense of humor in your content. Straightforward and concise copy will get your point across, but content infused with humor and emotion has the power to delight your audience. Encourage your employees to share their highs and lows through social media platforms. Maybe an employee likes to express their holiday spirit through a series of Christmas sweater monstrosities, or your CEO decides to rescue a furry friend and recruit the little gal as the company’s new mascot. By adding a personal touch to your content, you have an opportunity to increase your engagement immensely.

Show Off Your Staff

Appoint some office personalities to be used in your marketing efforts. Customers like to see the real people behind the work. You can do this by using real photos of your actual employees. Employees can be featured on various parts of the company’s website like the “About Us” and “Career” pages. Make it known who writes each piece of content, and attach an image of the author. Share photos from outings or events on the company Facebook page, and post day-to-day office moments and new employee greetings on Instagram. Any photo of your team being themselves is sure to relate to your audience.

Encourage Staff to be Social

Chances are your employees have active social media accounts, and this means they have connections. When employees post social media updates about or on behalf of the company, it gives the content much more reach. Employees are great brand promoters. They can leverage their social networks to spread brand awareness while serving as proud representatives of the company, and yes, content should also be shared during work hours! In today’s technological welfare, a human connection has the ability to reach across cyberspace and draw in your audience. Every brand is different, and great content allows you to portray your company’s personality.

ABOUT CATMEDIA:

CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

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