By Allen Brown
Every business needs visibility. How are people going to know what you’re selling? How will they get to know your product? These are the most important questions that you and your marketing team need to answer. Most of it is common sense. Some of it takes strategy. But when we take into consideration the greater market, we tend to cast a wide net to see what comes up. In doing that, we too often end up ignoring the very people who will support you unconditionally: your local customer base.
Here we will explore how one can get found and cultivate a following, not just from random people online, but from those who will show up to your shop or business and say hello.
The bread and butter of any modern marketing strategy is the search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. “Word of mouth” has a cult-like feel to it that’s bred mostly from the notion of exclusivity. But as a business, SEO gets people to notice you.
There are many details and underlying studies on how and when your website shows up on a search. Whether it’s an ad on a billboard along the highway you pass by every day as you travel, or the first option on Google, placement matters. According to the good folks at AdInfusion.com, you can place your website directly in front of the people within a given radius of your business outpost. This is a branch of SEO that focuses directly on maximizing local potential. It’s about fine-tuning language and giving local perspectives on a product’s spin. It’s about anchoring a product to a locale by consistently using local referrals and references in the content put out there. That is the primary digital means of getting your neighborhoods’ eyeballs on your product.
Social Media Done Right
People spend a lot of time and money on ads. Pop-up ads and commercials are a big part of the old guard of marketing. They are effective, yes. If they weren’t, advertising agencies would be out of business. They serve as a backbone to the consumer taste. But when it comes to a smaller business, it is more advantageous to cultivate a following online through social media. Now, the idea of “social media marketing” has been run to the ground. It’s almost hacky. It’s a cliché. But doing it right can benefit you to no end. How? Take that local flavor and mix it into your product. Everyone is so focused on having “international appeal”. Nobody in Indonesia is going to buy a Davis-grown batch of “probiotic kimchi”. It’s always a better idea to present good ideas from a customer’s backyard.
Get Out There!
If you want to have local customers, you need to get out in the community! Your local chamber of commerce is a good start. Just because the world took a bit of an economic hit doesn’t mean that one cannot compile the resources needed to reach out to the local community. It can be anything. Sure, selling fresh food products has that local romance to it. But if you have a service and you know who your audience is, you can get yourself in the right circles at the right time. It’s all about putting in the work on these grassroots approaches to marketing. As much as having a solid online presence is important, you’re not going to get the kind of repeat loyal customers that owners get when they meet face to face and chat.
Freebies are the best. They’re often cheap, often fun, and do not give a negative impression on the customer base. If you’re giving out flyers on the street, it’s like saying, as comedian Mitch Hedberg once said: “Here, you throw this away.” But if you give simple things like calendars, pens, even little pins, it lets people know you have a sense of service. You’re not going to waste their time with garbage. Fun little tchotchkes are fine. People don’t have an aversion to those. Plus, when that makes its way around and someone in need of your service sees it? You might just gain a new customer from the minor investment you made on freebies.
Being found by your local customers is not rocket science. It may seem overwhelming in the grand scheme of saturated markets and competition. Businesses spend money on the appearance of excellence. But if you believe in your service or product, you show the customer that you care, and you stick to a winning local SEO strategy, you might just make waves in and around your community.