8 Practical Tips for Marketing to Your Local Community
Local marketing is all about being seen, heard and found by your ideal customers.
Great products, a great location, and yes, even competitive prices, are not enough to drive sales if you can’t get the word out about your store.
Whether you’ve just opened your first store or you’re looking to refresh some of your marketing tactics, this article will explain what you can do to promote your retail business. You’ll hear from local retail store owners like you, marketing experts and PR consultants. We’ll cover:
Effectively market to your local community this holiday season
Learn everything you need to know about preparing your retail store for the holiday season, including how to best market to and serve your local community.
What is local marketing and why does it matter?
Put simply, local marketing is important because it drives leads and sales. When it’s done well, it can help potential customers remember you the next time they need a product that you sell. Because your business has a physical location, local marketing is particularly important. Capturing the demand around your brick and mortar shop is a key way to drive sales.
Top local marketing tactics
And the good news is that you have an almost endless number of marketing options to choose from. What works best will depend heavily on the type of business you’re in, but most of these tactics will yield results from retail businesses as diverse as clothing to jewelry.
1. Be easy to reach
Sometimes the simplest tips are the most useful.
That’s why we’re going to suggest you list your store’s address and phone number where people can see it online. “One of the quickest ways to increase leads and revenue for a brick-and-mortar is to make your business phone number and address front and center on every page of your website,” said John-Paul Cody Trends & Tactics.
2. Attract foot traffic
But it’s not all about digital these days. The main marketing strategy for local retailers and brick-and-mortar businesses must engage in is old school “‘we are open visual tactics,” suggests Baron Christopher Hanson, lead consultant and owner of RedBaronUSA.com, a consulting and coaching firm based in South Carolina and South Florida.
That can mean a new coat of paint, a brand new sign or awning or flag, and perhaps a smiling person outside handing out business cards or a free sample. “So many businesses have closed down, moved or operated remotely over the last 16-18 months that customers simply need to know your business physically exists,” he said.
3. Entice customers back
Once you’ve enticed that foot traffic to step through your door, you also want to give them a reason to come back again. This is a great way to leverage digital and traditional marketing, according to Christina Rath, a partner at Bel Air Branding Agency, an L.A.-based digital marketing firm for small local businesses.
One of the agency’s clients is doing this by handing out vouchers for a free item on a return visit in exchange for signing up for their email list.
“This allows the business to not only entice the customer to return again for a free item but track whether or not these promotions create loyal customers. Loyalty programs can be used in the same way to segment out groups of customers and create rewards or promotions based on past behavior,” said Rath.
4. Set up Google My Business
To begin this process, visit google.com/business and verify ownership of your business.
Ravi Davda is the CEO of Rockstar Marketing, a digital marketing agency based in the UK. He believes Google My Business is a must-have for local retailers.
Post product photos and seek reviews
“Every section must be filled in,” said Davda. “Make sure you have regular reviews and posts from your business. This is what will get you to the top of Google Maps, which is what matters for local businesses. Next, use Facebook and Instagram Ads to promote your business to your local area. Offer discounts. Get your brand out there,” he added.
Getting those reviews is particularly important, according to Brian Robben, the CEO of Robben Media. “Over time, you’ll start to rank for what you sell in Google Maps and maybe Google Search,” said Robben. “This will bring in hundreds of new customers to your store alone for free.
READ: The Small Business Guide to Getting Found on Google.
5. Create website content
While Google My Business is very useful, your own website puts you at a greater advantage, according to Jenny Winter, Head of Marketing at Degree 53, a user experience, design and software development company in Manchester, UK.
Having your own store website means you can promote your products and expertise without having to spend on advertising. This is where content comes in. “You can optimize your content to include product and location, such as ‘Wedding Cakes in New York’. Continuously generating content that offers value to your customers will soon result in relevant traffic,” said Winter.
Tip: Come up with a list of the most frequent questions you get in the store. Then write a blog post to answer those questions, add context, and do a soft sell pitch at the end.
6. Host a live video stream
And videos can be really effective too. Jeff Moriarty is the marketing manager of Moriarty’s Gem Art, his family-owned jewelry business. In March 2020 the company started doing live Youtube and Facebook streams.
“It was free, it just took time to implement. These live streams were both educational and commercial in nature. The live shows allowed visitors to view our items, buy online and ask questions. We advertised these live streams through emails, our website, and social media. We are now getting about more than 1000 viewers watching each show,” he said.
7. Be seen on social media
As Moriarty’s success with video shows, you need to put as much if not more effort into promoting your content as you do producing it. Social media can help you do this. And it has other payoffs too, according to Rob Swinburne, a digital marketing apprentice from Surge Marketing Solutions, a digital agency based in the UK.
“Announcing sales and specials online can bring more customers into your store and raise your local profile. Also, show support for local causes and interact with them, not only does this help your brand seem more personal but you can strike up conversations and potential partnerships,” he said.
Encourage Facebook referrals
Above all, good local marketing means knowing your community and its interests and priorities. And that means ensuring the community knows you too, said Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager at English Blinds.
Facebook is one way to do this. For example, have you ever noticed that when someone asks for a recommendation in a Facebook group, it usually leads to a few businesses being suggested? Kay said these recommendations often come with a brief comment about the business. Maybe it’s been a feature of the community for a long time. Maybe someone had a good customer experience. Or maybe the business added a thoughtful personal touch.
“This means that if any of these things apply to you—a long tenure, a family business, or excellent service, the latter of which all businesses should be providing—highlighting and playing up these points should be a priority,” said Kay.
Be picky about your platforms
Whether it’s Facebook or Youtube, try to find a social media platform that is best for you. “From Instagram to TikTok to Clubhouse, it can be overwhelming with the number of platforms out there now,” said Bailey Floyd, founder of Bais Creative and Public Relations. That’s why it only makes sense to be active on the same platforms as your audience.
8. Hold a promotional event
Holidays also present another opportunity for marketing your store to your community.
Businesses should look for ways to package their existing goods for in-store or at-home experiences that can be promoted seasonally.
“While there may be a subset of customers that feels comfortable attending an in-store event, having contactless curbside pick-up or at-home options that allow them to take part in the celebrations is a great way to augment in-store promotions,” said Rath of Bel Air Branding Agency.
Merge in-person and online marketing
Taylor Ryan is the CEO of Klint Marketing, a Copenhagen-based digital marketing agency. He believes it’s important to blend offline and online marketing activities. But to do so, you need to set clear and measurable goals.
“Tactics like geographically marketing your store on social media, online competitions leading to in-store rewards and discounts or free in-store samples that require email signup are all ways to combine online and offline marketing,” said Ryan.
How your POS can support marketing
You can even use your POS to market to your customers right at that all-important point of purchase. You might place discounted products right beside the POS, for example. Doing this can be a great driver of impulse purchases.
By using POS software like Lightspeed, you can also run reports to see which products are moving and which are staying on the shelf too long. This can help you develop a point of purchase (POP) marketing approach.
Standing out in your local community
Local retail marketing will always be important. How you go about it may change over time, but it all boils down to building a strong local brand, creating relevant offers for customers and driving sales plus repeat business for your store.
To learn more about how Lightspeed can help you execute a local marketing strategy, talk to one of our retail experts.