We’ve reached out to some of the best and brightest businesses who cater to local audiences for their top local marketing ideas. Be sure to bookmark this page, because you’ll definitely be referring back.
A big thank you to everyone who contributed!
The first step to ranking in local search results is citation building: making sure your business is accurately listed in as many online directories as possible. More listings ensure your business comes up in more local searches, which translates directly into more customers finding your business. If you don’t have one, click here to get a free listing at YP.com and boost your business’s visibility in local search.
2) Carly Fauth, Head of Marketing, Money Crashers
Reach out to journalists or radio/TV personalities located near your business that cover areas related to your niche and start building relationships. Eventually you might be able to appear on a local radio show for an interview or answer questions from listeners. Or you could make a TV appearance regarding an upcoming event related to your business. You might get a mention in a local newspaper article as well.
3) Peter Dean, President, RenderTribe
Marketers are marketers, so be careful to not be fooled by what you are getting when working with a local marketing opportunity. We often see a localized site pitching local business listings and ads on sites with lofty traffic numbers, but in reality their actual category or pages that they are listed on have little to no traffic and often are not aligned with the customer demographics a company is looking to attract. Traffic does not equal sales, it just equals traffic and could be irrelevant. When someone is pitching you and talking about how much traffic they have on their site, be careful not to get sucked into the hype.
4) Gabriel A. Mays, Founder & CEO, Just Add Content
Every piece of content you put out should mention the area(s) you serve. If you’re targeting a local market you need to be specific about it.
For example if you serve San Diego county don’t just say San Diego county, mention the specific areas like Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Carlsbad and even neighborhoods. This is particularly important for hyperlocal businesses like restaurants, plumbers, etc. because that’s how people search.
If you serve many areas you don’t have to list all of them in every post, you can mention the general area than just include a couple examples, alternating them between posts.
You should always include the general area and all areas you serve somewhere static like the footer of your website that will be included on every page. For example: “Joe’s Plumbing serving San Diego county including….”
It’s also helpful to search engines to include local schema markup and KML data with your contact and directions information. Some modern website builders will do this for you. For example, we do it automatically for all customers.
Lastly, ensure your local business profiles for Google (called Google My Business now) and other search engines and listings are current.
5) Kayley Reed, Co-Founder, Wear Your Label
My biggest local marketing tip that I’ve learned from mentors: 1 hour in the community engaging with customers, networking, talking about your brand, etc.) is more valuable than 10 hours of working in your business. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth and face to face interaction!
6) Jon Schepke, the CEO of SIM Partners
With growing importance being placed on satisfying local consumers immediately as they are searching in real-time, the value of local search marketing can not be overstated for marketers today.
Developing a strong brand that is recognizable and able to engage with customers is crucial, and can be easy to do if you follow this key tip: develop your company’s local presence online so that it can be easily found. This involves multiple smaller steps — including distributing accurate and consistent name, address, phone, and hours of operation information across the web — to be easily discovered via local search, where and when people are looking for you or your services, which includes traditional desktop searches as well as mobile search, maps and more.
7) Taylor Johnson, Business Plan Expert, Business Plan Today
Even in the digital age, local marketing remains an essential aspect of the marketing strategy for small businesses. One of the most effective local marketing campaigns your business can do is to participate in community events. For example, I advised a lawn care company to get involved in their town’s annual lawn and garden festival. The company purchased a booth that provided tips on new gardening techniques and pamphlets about their services. More importantly, it allowed the business owners to connect with the community on a personal level and put a face to the name. The event was a great success and brought in a ton of new customers.
When it comes to local marketing my advice is to aim for at least four events a year. There are a wide variety of events that you can participate in like local concerts, BBQ competitions, art festivals, outdoor movies, etc. The key is to participate in those events where your target market is most likely to be.
8) Christopher Rither, OneMeanDream.com
When it comes to local marketing you must first have well defined goal within a specific time frame. For example, what are you marketing? Do you want to be the expert in your field, the problem solver, cheapest provider, highest quality, the quickest, easiest…? Only then can you set a plan to find these people and how to get the word.
For example I owned a home inspection company. One problem with the real estate industry is it’s very litigious. Since no one wants to be liable, realtors and other agents will refer 3 different companies.
To build my company I had to be one of these. So I decided I had to market myself as “the expert” and “go-to guy” for real estate agents. I did this by writing down every problem or question a buyer and agent might ask a home inspector. Then I designed free training seminars around these issues, and brought them right inside real estate office. Being the main speaker at these events made me the expert in their eyes. It also allowed me to individually meet and build relationships with agents all over the state. My referrals shot through the roof, because people like to know they can trust the companies they recommend.
9) Sean Dudayev, Director of Marketing, InsureChance Inc.
I would remind local businesses that web marketing isn’t just for big companies. With an increase in mobile use and wearable technology it’s extremely important to market yourself online. If you ignore local SEO you will be missing out on a huge part of your clientele. Just think of the amount of times you searched your phone for “insert interest here” and your
Zipcode to find something near by. Mobile search has been increasing by huge margins every year and with the trend of smart watches that is sure to grow with Apple’s new release, it will be the businesses that can be found on the go that will win locally.
Referral marketing is the most important mode of local marketing.
According to TAB’s recent B2B sales survey, nearly half of business owners turn to other business owners for input before making a purchasing decision.
Referral marketing is not only effective (in that the buyer approaches you with a certain level of trust from the get-go), but it’s also cost-effective (because this shortens your sales cycle dramatically). It’s also likely that someone who is approaching your business with a concrete recommendation will be less price sensitive.
11) Traci Ruble, Founder, Psyched In San Francisco
1) Build Relationships Online
Twitter / Facebook / Google / LinkedIn: We actually send a personal note to ALL responders to our social media campaigns. Every contact we think of as a relationship, not a sale.
2) Build Relationships Offline
We also relationship builds by sending handwritten thank you notes to doctors, colleagues and others who refer to us.
It sounds old school but taking the time to be a person will really differentiate you from your competition and you would be surprised how much marketing money it saves you. Small businesses don’t need to capture the attention of the world. They need to establish a few reliable business relationships with other vendors who will drive customers to you.
One tip to get your started: I just purchased Nimble, a unique online contact management system three weeks ago that lets you create personal relationships with those you are connected to through social media as well as upload your contact records and schedule follow ups and get notified when someone in your network has interacted with you via social media. I am not affiliated with them in any way but since using their software and focusing on the relationships we are building we have grown our social media following by 10%.
12) Brett Farmiloe, Founder, Markitors
A website that is optimized for mobile is the number one necessity for company with a local reach. With just about 80% of local searches conducted on mobile devices converting into an inquiry, companies need to have information readily available for customers on the go.
Quick story: I once worked with a company that was spending $10M a year annually on local radio advertising. After conducting an audit of their marketing outreach, I found that their website wasn’t optimized for mobile and as a result, mobile customers were spending about 75% less time on their visitors on their desktop. That was a big eye opener for their marketing department.
13) Lori Kaye, Director, Lion LinQ
Work with a local business in town by offering them FREE marketing.
Here’s how it works: let’s say you’re running an event and want to spread the word quickly. Get double sided marketing pieces made up with your special event on the front and their special offer on the back. They will hand out those flyers like crazy and constantly refer their patrons to YOU. The cost of the marketing pales in comparison to the foot traffic and word of mouth you’ll receive.
14) Lisa Hennessy, Owner/ Creator, Your Pet Chef
My tip is to find the local influencers in your area and work out some sort of barter arrangement for services or products. I’ve been very successful with this strategy and it just takes some time invested in networking and then being creative with business ideas. I’ve been able to get listed on a meet up group with 4,000 active members simply for the price of feeding the meet up group administrator’s dog. Totally worth it!
15) Sherry Holub, Creative Director, JV Media Design
It’s difficult to narrow down a single number one tip but I’d have to go with making sure you know your market. This is important advice no matter what marketing you’re doing, but local markets are much smaller than expanded or national markets. Going through the steps to determine who your ideal customer is will allow you to focus your local marketing more effectively.
16) Wesley Young, Search Engine Land
One good piece of advice for local marketing is to reuse content across channels and platforms. Did a blog post work really well for you on Facebook? Then, you can repurpose it a little bit so it’s not the exact same thing and put it up on Twitter. “SMBs may be better off, ” says Young, “creating one high-quality piece of content they can share across all media channels, rather than customizing content for each channel that suffers from inattention.” Repurposing and reusing content actually allows you to send a targeted message to your customers.
17) Julie Austin, CEO, Speaker Sponsor
My top tip for local small business marketing is one that most small businesses don’t even consider, and that’s sponsorship. Unlike TV or radio broadcasting, sponsorship is marketed to a very target audience, so you’re not wasting any money. For example, if you run a mom and pop kids shop and you sponsor a local PTA meeting (yes, it’s possible!), you only reach local parents. It’s very inexpensive and every person in your audience is a good, potential customer who is meeting your brand on an intimate level.
Loyalty to the local is most powerful when the marketer has worked to convince the shopper there’s no reason to question item quality.
Shoppers associate certain countries of origin with desirable product characteristics. Cheeses and perfumes from France have a special cachet, as do cutlery and timepieces from Switzerland. Customers entering a store predict Scotch whiskey will be better than whiskey from India. Quality is less likely to be questioned when the item has the recognized national pedigree.
But this is not true when the pedigree is local. The consumer considering a locally-sourced item will place an especially high importance on accurately assessing the quality of the item.
Many Community Supported Agriculture marketers have recognized this when using a message like, “Buy local to ensure higher quality in products and higher quality of life for your neighbors.”
19) Robert Barrows, R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations
The number one piece of advice about marketing locally would be to call a local ad agency.
Marketing recommendations will be different for each and every business and each and every budget. To discuss the best opportunities for your company and your budget level, call about three ad agencies and ask them to come in and meet with you to discuss the costs and opportunities.
20) Chris Campbell, CEO, ReviewTrackers
Actively manage your online reviews, and reply/respond as frequently as possible (even to the positive ones!) to help your customers feel heard and appreciated, and to help prevent negative online feedback from preventing new customers from checking out what you have to offer. Don’t let negative reviews especially go unaddressed or unresolved, or assume that an angry customer can’t be made happy. Being involved in the process goes a long way.
21) Evan Leepson, Marketing Consultant, Leepson Consulting
As a marketing consultant to local service businesses, I tell all of my clients that their main marketing goal is to establish and maintain strategic relationships with potential customers and referrers. After I work with my client to drill down and identify specific individuals and groups that are in the position to purchase their product or service, then we talk about tactics: website, blog, person-to-person meetings, etc.
People first, tactics second.
22) Catherine Schutten, Sr. Manager of Content and Brand Strategy, LocalVox Media Inc.
One of my top tips would be to pay attention to online directories (IYP). Google’s Pigeon update has made these sites more important for referrals and will help a local business increase its organic search rankings. When a small business is fixing their directories, it is important that they provide consistent and correct information across every site in order to get the most bang for their buck.
Businesses should include a local phone number (no 800 numbers), a local address and website on these directories so that they appear in local searches. Google gives preference to businesses with a local information when a person is searching on a mobile device (the rationale is that they are in the area and looking for a store to visit).
23) Jordan Milewski, Director of Communications, Social Firestarter
The one piece of advice I’d share about marketing locally, as it pertains to internet marketing, is stay consistent and pick an area to target. We have many clients in California that want to market for the entire state, but we get the best results when picking a specific city or county to target because, locally speaking, someone in San Francisco will not be searching for a business in San Diego. Once we pick a specific location, we gear every aspect of their internet marketing campaign to that location.
24) Jenn Ciccarelli, Marketing Director, Goodway Group
At Goodway Group, we identify and empathize with the challenges of marketing in a small business. Where will we get the best bang for our buck? Are we really connecting with our local audience? Where IS our local audience? For us, discovering the answers to those questions has been key to developing our marketing strategy. Our one tip for local business marketers? FIND YOUR HUMANS.
For us, the not-so-secret formula has been to engage business owners/decision makers in a place where we can share our expertise in a non-sales environment – speaking engagements and panels, roundtables, local ad club chapter (or whatever is comparable for your industry). Our marketing team spends a lot of time researching and pursuing these opportunities. In these situations, you are able to develop a “lead and educate,” consultative relationship with an audience that already wants to hear what you have to say. They’re entering the room engaged. How often does that happen in a conference room?
When you’re there, teach them something they didn’t know when they walked through the door. For us, we try to draw from our own areas of expertise and expound upon them in a way that is non-Goodway specific. You don’t have to wow them with impressive stats (though those do help) and you don’t have to present a 40-slide deck to communicate something important. Just get on their dance card and you’ll be surprised at the leads that follow.
25) Jason Parks, Owner, The Media Captain
Submitting your website to a local listing directory like Yahoo! Local Works or Yext. This will provide your company with greater visibility on Google’s organic results in your local market. The cost is relatively inexpensive and can be a big driver for more local business for your company.
26) Brett Truka, Founder, Devetry
One of the best ways to market yourself locally is to engage in local networking as often as possible. Sure, advertising locally can help, but there is no substitute to rolling up your sleeves and talking to like-minded people about what you do. Small business meetups, volunteering, even free consultations (depending on your business model), to name just a few. People want to help others, so engaging with your community to help each other succeed is key.
27) Walter Wise, BPI Strategy Group
As a marketing coach/consultant working with small businesses across the US, the number thing I see is that small business owners are really good at what they do, but really bad at marketing their products and services. In many cases, they focus on the tactical side – sending email, developing a flyer or brochure or website but totally forget about the most important side – the strategic side.This is the message they send out. In 99% of the cases, it is totally wrong and all about the write, not the prospect.
So the tip I can give is hire a professional who can help you develop the right strategic message to your target audience and then help you set up the systems to send it out to the places where your prospects get their buying information.
28) Lisa W Boyle, SEO & Internet Marketing Strategist, Paradigm Shift SEO
The more positive reviews your business has will push your listing to the top of the directory for your local area. So don’t be shy and ask for reviews openly if you want your business to become well-known on a local level.
It important to make the review process for your customers as easy as possible because if it is too difficult or time-consuming they will never do it.
Simplify the process by:
- Providing the direct link for your listing
- Inform them that they will have to create a user account if they do not already have one
- Provide step by step instructions on how to create an account
29) Shaun Walker, Creative Director/Co-Founder, HERO|farm
As the creative director of a marketing agency that works with many small businesses, we often are constrained by shoestring budgets, if that. Essentially, you have get creative and make news out of nothing.
The quickest way for a business to be noticed or standout to the public is simply to take a stand… which is often profitable. By “take a stand”, I’m saying find a meaningful connection between a timely event and you/your business, service or product—Then pounce on it.
Constantly scan the news and see if there is any way you can hook yourself onto a developing story and how doing so will benefit the public. This way, you take interest in something that has already garnered headlines. If you take a stand with the story or issue you can become a first mover, and then you easily become a shaker.
30) Tim Welsh, Digital Marketing Strategist
I would say that the most important tip that I can give to a small business is to own your area. Small business tend to focus too much on ranking for national keywords and forgetting that their market is smaller. Create targeted content, utilize Instagram for a local feel and optimize your Facebook page for local search.
31) Danay Escanaverino, CEO, LunaSolMedia
1) Be Specific
Be as specific as you can about the location and keyword you are using in your local marketing campaigns. For example, if you are a dentist in Miami. Do not just promote Miami Dentist, but promote your services as well, such as “Miami Teeth Whitening” or “Discount Cavity Filling in Miami, FL”. The more specific you are, the better chances you will show up for that exact search when prospective customers search.
2) Get Listed
Add your business and services to as many directories as you can find. For example, if you are a dentist in Miami, you should search Google for “Miami Dentist” and record the first 3-5 pages of results. Submit your corporate information to any of those results which are directories. Be sure to submit the exact same corporate name, address and phone number to each one, as these are considered citations and are very important for your search results.
32) John Zupancic, Founder, Wriber Inc.
My top tip for marketing locally is to look for warm introductions wherever you can. You and/or your workforce likely knows a handful of people / businesses in the local community. Go to them directly and ask for feedback about your product/service. And once you get it, ask them if they know anyone else that may be interested. I have used this method to get my first customers.
33) Ana Caracaleanu, CEO, Luevo
My #1 advice on marketing locally is: GEO-TAGGING.
Social media marketing is a major strategy for any business (online or brick and mortar) and studies have shown that by geo locating your posts you get a higher engagement. For example we wrote an article on Instagram best practices, and it was shown that geo-located Instagram posts see 50% more engagements.
People like to connect with brands locally, so if you are at a fair or at an event, let them know via geo-tagging your content and images.
34) Jayme Pretzloff, Director of Marketing, Wixon Jewelers
Although a non-traditional answer, I think one of the greatest marketing strategies of today is a strong online review presence. The internet has changed the landscape of word-of-mouth referrals as consumers have turned to the web to get recommendations from their friends, community and even strangers. An online review is now deemed by over 85% of the population to be just as good as a referral from a friend. Reputation management, online and offline, is now more important than ever.
Prior to services like Yelp, Google+ and Facebook, the average business was only concerned with word-of-mouth backlashes from unhappy customers to their neighbors and coworkers. Social sharing platforms now give the unhappy customer a vast array of publishing and sharing power where they can rant and rave, from the biggest soap box imaginable, for the entire world to hear. This digital soap box can affect your business in multiple ways even beyond the obvious drop in sales. However, when a proper strategy is in place, you can leverage online reviews to promote a positive company image and acquire new clients.
35) Julie K, Director of Sales & Marketing, TorontoVaporizer
1) Provide Local Coupon Codes
One of our core values is providing the best value to our customers, and we do this by offering discounts and coupon codes specifically for local customers. We ‘hide’ ‘pick-up promo codes’ on Google, which are essentially coupons that provide a dollar amount off certain a vaporizer purchase. So, local customers who find these ‘pick up promo codes’ can phone in their order, ask the sales rep to apply the code and arrange their pick up, same day, to receive the best value on their order – a great perk just for our local community and a way to drive traffic to our showroom and pick-up office location.
2) Loyalty Discounts
When customers purchase from us, they are eligible for the repeat customer discount of 10% off their next purchase. Customers sometimes pass this code on to friends and family members who may want to purchase a vaporizer from us in the future or they can choose to use the code themselves for future orders. Our loyalty discount code is another excellent way to encourage our customers to spread the word about our business, pass the savings on to those in their immediate circle of connoisseurs, and drive traffic to our store from repeat customers and new ‘word of mouth’ customers.
3) Complementary Goods Marketing
As part of our value to ensure our customers are provided with the best value, we include a free, $50 gift with every vaporizer purchase. Inside the grinder’s bottom compartment, we hide a tiny circular promotional insert about another product customers may be interested in purchasing to add to their vaporizer collection, a ZEUS Thunder Vape Pen. The Thunder works with botanical dust which collects in the bottom of the grinder and therefore entices customers to check out and buy a product that ensures they have an even more complete and efficient vaporization experience.
36) Al Ruggie, Public Relations Director, 911 Restoration
When we first started ten years ago, almost all of our leads were from yellow pages, word of mouth and management company accounts. A few years ago we restructured the whole SEO department, did lots of tests and experiments, hired GREAT people, and we incorporated a much more aggressive SEO campaign which resulted in the cost of paid PPC ads going down by 50% while the leads generated from the same price point went up by 30%-40% per service area.
This all resulted in an enhanced organic exposure which has helped us to develop some great partnerships with many local search directories. Our sales of franchise branches and service areas increased in lockstep with our restructuring and new SEO and PPC campaigns to a tune of 37% over the previous year. All told, our branches can expect a 30% growth yearly when participating in our marketing campaigns.
37) Herby Fabius, Owner, Billion Success
My number tip for local small business owners is to create a Google plus profile and use it often. I know how small businesses don’t believe in social media and what it can do for them, but in this case it matters. Having a Google profile is not just for social media, it is to help your customers find you when they search in Google. Having a G+ will help you gain more exposure. Google would rather to pull your G+ profile than any other.
Click Here to get our FREE Google advertising guide and discover the 6 steps you can use to show up #1 in Google search
38) Corey Barnett, Cleverly Engaged
My number one recommendation is getting reviews. So many local businesses don’t put a proper review system in place. As a result, they easily acquire negative reviews and don’t earn enough positive reviews. You have to tell your happy and loyal customers where and how to review your business online or it likely won’t happen.
The first step is to ask customers for reviews and understand where customers should leave a review (Yelp and Google are typically the biggest priorities).
Not any customer, but satisfied customers. Do this through email, postcards mailed to the customer address and in person. Multiple touches helps make the process clear. Add a section to your website once you receive enough reviews, showing testimonials and including the steps to leave a review online.
I have written a blog post on this topic and other local marketing articles:
39) Jessica Stradley, Marketing, Front Desk
Many businesses are aware of SEO but it’s still a daunting task that most small business owners are hesitant to dig into. Either because they lack the time and resources or they don’t understand the importance. Local SEO is vital for small business owners marketing to their community. For example, say you’re in San Diego and craving a sandwich but don’t know where to go. You type “Sandwich san diego” into Google. By optimizing your sandwich shop’s SEO for the local key words, you’ll be able to rank at the top of the search engine results and therefore get more traffic to your business.
40) Shaun Caldwell, Charlotte Print
With the advent of the Internet, consumers have immediate access to global markets and infinite choices which makes it increasingly difficult for local businesses; in particular local small businesses to get noticed.
A referral/mastermind group allows businesses to differentiate and sustain existing customer relationships.
Members in our group represents different professions (offers different products / services) but frequently sell to the same market. As a result of this common market focus and community referral commitment and effort, our members help drive business to one another.
Through meetings that combine social interaction and referral networking, online tools and ongoing group activities, members in our community actively look to refer business to one another.
According to Napoleon Hill the mastermind principle is important due to the following:
- An individual can “borrow and use the education and experience, influence and perhaps the capital of other people in carrying out your own plans in life.”
- “You can carry out in one year more than you could accomplish in a lifetime if you only depended entirely on your own efforts for success.”
- “[It] gives you absolute protection against failure.”
41) Peter Geisheker, CEO, The Geisheker Group Marketing Firm
My top tip for local marketing is a combination of local Google PPC, local Google Display advertising (banner advertising), and Google Remarketing. This is a very powerful and affordable marketing system for generating local leads, new customers, and brand recognition.
42) Karen Evans, Start Blogging Online
You can earn through blog advertisements, building your subscribers and offering your own products or services, and affiliate marketing. This will give you a better idea if a niche would be profitable, check other blogs under the same category and see if they are making money. Learning from the mistakes that newbie bloggers committed is also an effective way to become more prepared.
43) Emily Culclasure, Digital Media Analyst, seoWorks
For any business – local or global – it’s essential to have an online presence in the world that we live in today. Word-of-mouth recommendations will always play a huge role in marketing, but local businesses should also be paying attention to SEO and how they’re performing in Google results. As Google continues to update its page ranking process, it’s becoming obvious that local SEO will be a huge factor in how pages show up in results. Local businesses can thrive by ensuring that their business is on the virtual map. This means double checking that they’re listed correctly in online directories, and also ensuring that their Google My Business page is accurately listed, verified and actively used for reviews and updates.
More and more potential customers are making purchasing decisions online, so local companies will have a lot to gain by being the first business in their area to show up in results.
Local businesses often have a tight marketing budget that they have to work with, so there’s really no reason to be spending it on expensive print advertising when much of it can be done online with a little SEO know-how.
44) Chris Denny, Executive Marketing Manager & President, Lead Optimize, LLC
Depending on the type of business we’re talking about, my top tip is usually to join the chamber of commerce that serves the area where you business is located.
You should certainly attend the networking meetings and events but also know the other resources available to you through the chamber. Many chambers of commerce provide the print and email lists of all the chamber members top use for marketing, offer info and metrics about the area’s people and businesses, and have great contacts in local media and publications where you might want to get a mention about your business from time to time.
Additionally, posting the chamber logo on your website shows businesses and people in the community that you are established and invested in the area.
45) Ken Wisnefski, CEO, WebiMax
The sudden rise in use of mobile technology and the innovation in that technology is opening up new opportunities for small businesses to increase their foot traffic and sales. Next time you’re in a public space look around and you will see a lot of people on their mobile devices, and chances are those folks are either checking their social media profiles, i.e., Facebook, or conducting a local search.
Luckily, Facebook has provided a way to for your company to reach out to those people that are near your business while at the same time targeting folks that are interested in the types of products that your business carries. This is something Facebook calls Local Awareness ads, and you can easily get started using them for as little as $5 a day.
By using Local Awareness ads, you can set the radius around your business that you want Facebook to push the ad out to. Facebook also has a lot of options to target the right people based on their interests, purchasing behavior, even job title. Facebook also just purchased the ecommerce search engine “The Find” last weekend, which should make Facebook’s already stellar targeting even more so.
46) Mike Kawula, CEO, www.SelfEmployedKing.com
The best marketing advice I could offer any small local business owner for growing their business exponentially is providing the best customer service/experience possible.
Even as an online digital marketing strategist I still believe the best way to grow a business is through your existing customers. Set up a referral system to encourage clients to refer you, but ultimately if you’re providing an amazing customer experience they’ll send you more business than you can handle.
This means continually going above what the customer expects (ie: Under-promise and over-deliver). Do something special when the client least expects it. This is by far the fastest way to grow a business.
Focus on local SEO.
This mean, claim your Google My Business page (if you’re a storefront business) and ensure that all relevant information is stated on the page. Also, ensure that you’re adding your geo-location on your content within your website.
As a business owner and advertiser, we need to let Google know that we are a business and where we are located. This allows you to tell the potential customer what to expect of your business in terms of what your business may serve or sell. Not only will this allow you to be shown to potential clients more often but this also will show up for relevant searches by clients who have intent.
As my business was started locally and then organically grew, my top tip is this:
Become engaged in your local chamber of Commerce, get to know the president and all the marketing personnel. Just by knowing and building relationships with these people you’ll [find] connections at your fingertips to all the top players.
My #2 tip would be to share informative articles to all your “local” mini newspapers. Provide information and resources. It equates to being the “local” expert on a topic and free advertising through article writing.
49) Aaron Black, Co-founder of DiamondHead Strategies
Hunt down local bloggers with a good following. Nationally recognized bloggers with hundreds of thousands of followers can be tough but every city has local bloggers with a few thousand local followers. Without a huge national audience these local bloggers don’t expect quite as much and even better they’ll speak directly to your local audience. Also, bloggers love finding that hidden gem of a local business. Do a giveaway and product review with them. As these local bloggers grow you’ll get more traffic and better yet blog traffic from these sites can last for years, or as long as your post is archived somewhere on their website. I’ve actually seen blog promos we’ve done for clients send traffic for years and actually send increasing amounts of traffic as the blog grows and the content remains archived and available.
50) Austin Paley, Corporate Marketing Communications Manager, Blue Fountain Media
When it comes to marketing locally, the best thing you can do to optimize your online presence to drive local sales is to get listed on directory sites. While there are many directories out there-only a select few are truly reputable and going to help your brand drive local traffic.
Directories such as Yelp, Glassdoor, or Zagat can help your local marketing, because when people do a search for certain keywords, and are in your target geographic area, these listings will appear. Not only does appearing on these sites take away from a lot of the work you have to do on your own, but having these listings connect with your website will help your business look more legitimate when people search and see ratings and reviews in google.
For small businesses especially, you want to make sure that you are found when people do a search.
51) Chuck Blakeman, Owner/Founder, Crankset Group
We totally believe that the most successful business owners don’t do networking or go to networking events; instead they build a small network of strategic alliances that brings them business for years to come.
We’ve started 3to5 Clubs around the world that are built on this exact premise. We believe anyone can build any business, in any industry that is a Mature Business in just 3to5 years. Each Club has a members of up to 24 members for the very reason that we are NOT a networking group. Our belief is that networking groups need as many people as they can get into them because a major purpose of the group is to sell to each other – so the more members you have, the more you can sell to each other. We specifically don’t want a giant group because the emphasis is on building a few, key Strategic Alliances, what we call Lumberjack relationships. We focus on serving each other and promoting each other’s business.
Which would you rather have – A one-time client who buys once directly from you, or a friend who never buys a thing from you but sends you clients for years to come?
Networking is a treadmill that traps you and keeps you coming back for years to get one client at a time. But a true NETWORK of individuals forming long-lasting relationships, such as 3to5 Club allows you to stop networking and rely on those few Lumberjacks who are sending you clients regularly. You can check out more at www.3to5Club.com
52) Dan Scalco, Owner, Digitalux
The number one thing a local business can do to help market themselves is to sign up for a Google Business account, link it to their website, and encourage past customers to leave reviews. This will improve your local search results – the results shown to users searching for a business in your area on Google. This can easily help bring targeted organic traffic to your site.
53) Kathryn Bisson, Marketing and Public Relations, Technology Seed, LLC
With my experience my biggest tip for local marketers is to not ignore Google.
Google can seem like a platform that is meant to reach the masses, but it actually is very beneficial in a local digital marketing strategy. One item to ensure is that you have a local page on google with up-to-date information. This means ensuring your business information, images, logo, description, hours and address all contain the most current information. Since Google maps is linked to many phone maps this listing can be essential for customers to locate your business.
Another item on Google that many businesses overlook, especially when targeting local consumers, is local Adwords. Using paid advertising and targeting a local community will help you in reaching your target audience, and as more people click your links the better you will rank. Overall, when creating a digital marketing strategy it is important to not overlook Google.
54) Kendra Corman, H2H Consulting
The #1 local marketing tip I recommend is networking.
Referrals are the best way to grow your business. Networking groups through your local chamber of commerce, LBN or BNI can provide you with exposure and create strategic partnerships to grow your business. If you are a restaurant you can host meetings, if you are a dentist you can partner with a chiropractor to share with each other’s patients about how to improve their health, and finally you can showcase your expertise through presentations to the group or opportunities that they can present to you.
55) Lysa Miller, Owner, Ladybugz Interactive
Here are 5 FREE web marketing services that every business should take advantage of:
Google Maps/Google +
Make sure you claim your business on Google, Google Maps is placed above any natural searches so it is important you have claimed this on Google Places. People will see your business here before anything (except a Google Adwords ad at the top) This listing is free and at the very leasts puts you in the run with your competitors.
Install Google Analytics code on your website and you will be able to see where your traffic is coming from, watch trends and grab analytic data from your website.
Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google + all have free subscriptions. Google recently included Twitter feed in it’s searches. If you create these channels and start to use them you will see them grow gradually. Add all of these links to your website to encourage your visitors to follow you for updates.
Various email marketing companies offer free subscriptions for small business. They also offer a script you can paste onto your website to make it easy to gain subscribers.
Start a Blog
Various blog services offer a free blogging tool you can link to your website. Here you can create content it that is engaging to your customers and link to it from your social media channels, send in newsletters and use to optimize your site for topic related visitors.
56) Brian Carter, Author, Speaker and Consultant, The Carter Group
I would run Facebook ads targeted to your city. You could do just metro, or a 10/25/50 mile radius. Facebook ads are the most affordable option for targeted awareness amongst new potential customers. They also can be very effective at lead gen and ecommerce, if you use conversion code and website conversion ads. They can boost attendance at local events, as well. I recommend every business spend $1 a day on them. You can certainly spend more, but that $1 will raise awareness of your business to up to 4,000 new people every day.
57) Mandy Nagel, Founder, I Thought Of You
As a small business owner, the best tip I can provide when it comes to marketing locally is: give current and future customers a reason to care and an easy purchase path. Take a look at some of our marketing channels, we try to use this reasoning behind every decision made.
58) Becky Blanton, TED Global Speaker 2009
Understand and know your customers, what they like, who they are and why they shop at your store.
They look at me funny when I encourage them to talk to customers, to find out what people like and don’t like about their business, and to get involved in local events, anything from attending local ball games, to sponsoring community events. People, especially in rural areas as well big city communities, do business with people they know and trust. I have seen many, many businesses fail, not because they didn’t offer a great product or service, but because the owners weren’t part of the local community.
People didn’t feel like they could approach them with concerns, complaints or suggestions.
When the owner is part of their community, is visible, engaged and listens to customers, customers respond. I know I can go down to my local grocer and ask them to order a brand or product for me and they will. They don’t just say, “What do you want?” they ask questions to find out who else might like it, why I like it, and if it would be a benefit to the community to keep it in stock.
My top tip for local business is to spend sometime setting up your google business page and then make sure you start to rank for local terms. I highly recommend the moz citation builder- really inexpensive and helps you rank in the local search results and drive people to your business.
Tracking online to offline is incredibly important, therefore, I like to capture a piece of unique information such as a phone number or email address so I can match up offline sales with online activity later on.
Also, I like to give incentives for my users to actively promote me. So if I run a coffee shop, I am going to offer a free biscotti or cookie if you instagram our coffee or check in to the coffee shop.
Lastly, if you offer free wifi, build in a program that makes your users sign in so you can capture their emails and retarget them later down the line with lunch time offers, etc.
60) Bobbie Asad, Mad Hatter
Consistent marketing is key, whether it is direct mail, media ads, press releases, or store promotions. Each one of these appeals to different people, so do them all. Find out the ones that bring the most customers into your shop.
Mad Hatter uses each one of these marketing avenues, along with Facebook and Twitter. Cross-promoting with other local businesses is an excellent marketing plan to bring in different customers too.
61) Brandon Howard, Owner, All My Web Needs
My #1 tip for small businesses in regards to local marketing is to make sure you have all of your online business listings synchronized with up-to-date information. That will help drive sales from each respective business directory as well as help you show up higher in local search engine listings when people are actively searching for your product or service.
62) Colleen Leader, Chief Operating Officer, The Abington Club & Wet Whistle
About a year ago I reached out to a few locally owned and operated companies to see if they were interested in partnering to showcase ourselves to new families moving into the area. We provide local realtors “Welcome to the Neighborhood” gift bags filled with gifts and discounts highlighting the businesses.
3 Great Results:
1. We’ve received referral business for our partners
2. Realtors have booked rental space and golf outings at our location
3. New residents are so thankful for the resources and spread the word
We’ve been very successful in our outreach and bringing in new members and guests to our location. I highly recommend.
63) Sean Gallahar, Social Media Director, i7 Marketing
Optimizing a website for local search engine results is the best way for your audience to find you. Many people who live in your town may not realize that you exist, and search engines are one of the first places people go to look for help. And when they do look for help, they are looking for help in their local area. Here’s a great article written here at i7Marketing about 5 things you need to grow a local presence.
64) Kristian Rivera, Digital Marketing Specialist, Fit Small Business
Keep up with trends.
Recently, Pokemon Go has become a huge sensation. It’s so popular, that businesses have started to add it into their marketing strategy. The nature of the game is to go out and explore, similar to a scavenger hunt. Which is generating a huge increase in foot traffic near businesses, and an increase in potential customers. All that’s left to do is figure out how to get them through your doors.
One way to do this is by offering promotions through social media channels. Let’s say you own a retail clothing store, you can offer a percentage off for capturing a certain number of Pokemon in your store. If you own a bar or restaurant, try hosting Pokemon themed events and provide special promotions. Have them take a picture of a Pokemon they caught in your business and share it on social media to receive a free drink or discount. The point is to get players to visit your business and spend time which can lead to more sales for you.
Once again, a big thank you to everyone who contributed your top tips for local marketing. Be sure to check out their websites for more information.
Now, it’s your turn. What’s your top tip for local marketing? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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