While the Internet could give you global customers and open your business virtually anywhere in the world, a lot of business owners have opted to go the other way and focus on their local area instead. This is because local online marketing strategies are relatively easier to implement, and the return on investment is high. In fact, ask any business and they would tell you that a bulk of their repeat customers is people who live nearby.
But more than implementing the online marketing strategies, here are eight things that could help you succeed as a local business. Mix it with the right local marketing ingredients and this could be your formula for local success!
1. Create a marketing plan
Your marketing plan should serve both as a road map and an anchor. You should know your goals, how to achieve them, and how to measure and know if you are attaining them.
Because local marketing has a lot of new ideas and new technologies coming in every so often, it is easy to lose focus of your local marketing efforts without a marketing plan.
Using your marketing plan, you could evaluate each new idea, technology or platform to see if it would bring you closer to your goals or not, and if it is worth pursuing.
2. You do not have to be in it alone
The sad thing with many local business owners is that they take time to identify and study their competitors but they virtually ignore businesses that could be their allies.
Local businesses often rely on other local businesses for word-of-mouth marketing, to get new customers, or to supply them with inventory or raw materials. And then there are other business owners that share the same goals as you do.
Take time to identify these businesses and see how you could come up with a joint effort to promote each other or at least share in the costs of marketing your individual products.
3. Success sometimes does not come in a day
Much of the things you do for your local marketing would take time before you get to see some benefits coming from them. Whether it’s setting up your local listing, getting reviews on review sites, setting up your venue on foursquare, or getting a Facebook fan page off the ground, all of these take time.
Be consistent and persevere
4. Be genuine
Local search and overall local online marketing can be frustrating in that there are other companies that do not play fair. Do not fight fire with fire. If your competitor results to review spamming to get a higher ranking on Google Places, report to the appropriate authorities instead of setting up fake reviews for yourself.
In the long run, black hat techniques won’t work and it would be more detrimental to your company and your reputation to resort to them.
Your online local marketing initiatives would be all for naught if you do not listen to your customers. The most basic example would be leaving an e-mail address on your website for people to be able to get in touch with you, but not responding to a question or a complaint when one is thrown your way.
Local marketing is all about engagement. Remember that there are other local businesses such as yours where your ignored customers could take their business to.
6. Be creative with the best practices
Whether it’s Google Places, local search, Yelp reviews or foursquare, you should be familiar with the best practices being done on each. Then instead of just copying these strategies, create your own version to make it more fitting for your business.
More importantly, do not stop learning. There is always something new, like a new technology or a new website, that changes the local online marketing landscape. Be sure that you are on top of these to be able to take advantage of them.
7. You do not have to spend too much on local marketing
There are a lot of free tools and sites that you could use to help you get your local marketing going.
8. Measure and adjust
If you have a website, set up an analytics package that would help you gain more insights into your customer’s behavior. It could tell you which blog posts or topics are most popular with your audience, where they came from to find your site, as well as other information such as new and returning visitors.
You could use these to fine-tune your local marketing, as well as give you something to work with when trying to figure out what your customers want and how to give it to them.