Not all brands cater to global audiences. For example, many smaller businesses may choose to focus on serving local communities instead in an effort to concentrate their marketing message without a huge marketing budget. However, it’s a common misconception that doing so makes it easier to build up a loyal customer base and generate sales. If you run a local business, you can improve performance by using both online and offline marketing tactics that work in your local geographical area. Today we’ll talk about how to build a steady stream of revenue for your local business using marketing tools that fit your budget.
Generating revenue for your local business
There are many advantages to running a local business.
- You understand the needs of the folks in your local area so you’re in a position to offer them what they need. Chain stores and even franchisees of large businesses are forced to stock a standard merchandise set and some of those products might not move very quickly. As a local business owner, you only stock those products you know will sell. That’s actually why Ace Hardware operates in that middle ground between a franchise operation and a small business. Owners can make their own decisions about most aspects of the business while sharing a portion of their revenue for national advertising and branding like a franchise.
- You’re part of the community and your neighbors want to support your business.
- Your business can easily adapt to changes. For instance, during the pandemic, many small businesses were able to pivot on a dime so they saw continued revenue even as the bigger corporations stagnated to make adaptations. A local distiller that sold alcohol in a local operation transformed to sell hand sanitizer using the equipment he had on hand. Thus, with his store shuttered, he still had income.
- Running a local business means you have more flexibility. For instance, my local salon is closing for three weeks in January for an international vacation. Since January is historically slow, they don’t anticipate losing much income. Especially since they informed their regular clients about the closure so they’re actually just shifting clients into the days before and after the vacation to fill appointments that might otherwise go unused.
- A local business is completely under the control of the owner(s), except for government regulations. If you decide you should open a second or third location, it’s up to you. If you want to add or delete products, go for it. If you want to hire or fire employees who don’t perform, you can do it as long as it doesn’t violate labor law.
- Your income is a function of how hard and how efficiently you work rather than determined by a third party.
Marketing tactics that help local businesses
Use Local SEO to generate web traffic
While you may have found the perfect spot on the high street for your store/business premises, this alone is often not enough to put your brand on the map. For example, the majority of transactions begin online, as you can see below – and many customers want to check out a brand’s website before visiting in person. Having a well-designed, easy-to-navigate website builds trust in your business and sets positive expectations of the experience.
This means that you need a great website and use local SEO to your advantage. Yet, many small businesses either don’t have a website or have one that doesn’t position their brand in a favorable light. Many local businesses skimp on their website because they don’t recognize the value it provides their brand. For instance, many small businesses build on one of those website builders like Wix and Squarespace. These websites rank so poorly on search engines (slow load speed, no advanced SEO) that you might as well not even have a website in the first place since prospective buyers won’t find you unless they query your business name.
With a good website, when users search for a specific product or service alongside the name of your town/city (or the query defaults to near me), your brand will be one of the first they come across. This is particularly important when you consider very few users will click on the second page of searches – often selecting one of the first three options that appear.
Adding social media to your online marketing strategy both improves your local SEO and helps drive awareness of your local brand.
Improve your store displays
Eye-catching and effective store displays are one of the easiest ways to boost foot traffic within your store. Window displays are particularly valuable if your business location is near other businesses as they’re a way to entice passers-by to stop in to browse your offerings. For instance, posting your menu with pictures of your mouthwatering dishes can help consumers choose you over one of your nearby competitors.
Great in-store displays entice visitors to explore other areas of your store. That’s why businesses place their sales items at the back of the store. An attractive display captures the attention of potential consumers as they pass by, enticing them to step inside to find out more. Dull or poorly organized displays, however, will have the opposite effect! Add technology such as beacons to provide information about products as consumers pass by the display or to offer discounts on products nearby.
Host an event
Whether you’re planning a product launch or simply looking to get to know your customers a little better, hosting an event is a great place to start. After all, this provides you with the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with both existing and potential new customers in a relaxed, fun environment. In some cases, this can also be the perfect opportunity to carry out some market research, as you can ask them for open and honest feedback on what you could be doing better.
Make your event as memorable as possible by handing out free products (or product samples) to all attendees. While this does come at an additional expense, it often pays off in customers further down the line. After all, if they love your product, they’re likely to buy it for themselves when the sample runs out.
Consider other options to engage with your community such as sponsoring a youth sports team, advertising at a local charity event, mingling with other businesses at a chamber of commerce event, or entering a charity run/ walk.
Develop a loyalty program.
If you’re looking to encourage loyalty among local shoppers, it’s typically advised to implement a customer loyalty program. This way, their repeated custom is mutually beneficial. There are many different ways in which you can reward loyalty through your program. For example, you may simply offer those within the local area a set discount on every purchase. Alternatively, you may want to use a stamp system – wherein they get one free product for every five or ten purchases.
Customers enrolled in your loyalty program should also be added to your mailing list so that you can keep them up to date with your business, product launches, and more.
Running a local business is fun and rewarding, especially when you implement some or all of these suggestions. Good luck and let me know how it’s going.
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