If we listen to conventional wisdom, businesses should be using TV, radio and online banner ads to attract new customers. But when it comes to local businesses, these channels simply aren’t as effective as turning to local marketing.
Many local businesses are finding that hyperlocal advertising — in any media channel that is primarily focused on the needs and issues of the people in that immediate vicinity or community — are more effective than traditional mass-market ads.
Community-based newspapers  and magazines, metro blogs, online neighborhood community platforms, plus out-of-home advertising (OOH) like posters at bus stops and digital screens at the gas pump are all good examples of powerful hyperlocal channels .
Let’s take a closer look at why they work so well.
Why Hyperlocal Advertising Works
Local Tribes for Local Brands
In the digital age, it’s become easier than ever for small businesses to gain global attention. But is this really the right way to go? It depends on what niche you’re operating in, but in many situations, what local businesses really need are more local customers. The smart use of targeted, hyperlocal advertising can be a powerful way to connect you with a growing, passionate, local tribe.
Because local businesses generally have more budget limitations than the bigger players in the market, they must invest their advertising dollars more strategically, focusing solely on the most effective channels. For many local businesses, this means investing in hyperlocal media to get immediately in front of a local, relevant audience.
This strategy works, because people are paying loser attention than many marketers realize — especially when presented with contextually relevant opportunities as they move throughout their daily lives. This is definitely the case when we’re outside: Research from the Outdoor Media Association  found that consumers are 2.5 times more alert when they are out and about than when they are at home consuming content on their own screens.
You can also create a powerful branding tool when you tap into a culture that’s unique to a local community. For example, a bank that advertises a good luck message to the local college team will be viewed as a relevant partner in the community. Finding these local events, associations and hot topics can help local businesses engage prospects in a more relatable manner.
As a local business, your marketing should feel local. Take advantage of local stereotypes that could help personalize your marketing campaign, as well as any challenges that you’ll need to factor into your campaign planning. Does your area get hit with a lot of snow? Create a campaign around that challenge and offer customers a “snow day special.” Find out if there are any local events that may be relevant to your campaign, or local partnerships that could provide a mutual benefit. Understand that in order to build a loyal local customer base, it’s important to be viewed as a part of the community. Hyperlocal advertising is a great way to achieve this kind of relevance.
Rediscovering OOH in the Local Context
As mentioned earlier, OOH works especially well on the hyperlocal level, simply because it adapts to how people are living and moving through their cities and towns — with billboards and signs near transit hubs and along the main traffic routes, and smart screens in stores and public spaces with lots of foot traffic.
Consider these statistics about the power of out-of-home ads:
- According to a Nielsen report , 70 percent of purchase decisions are made while shopping or otherwise in stores.
- Some 79 percent of consumers take action  after seeing an OOH ad.
- Approximately 59 percent of consumers  take an interest in time/day/location specific OOH advertising.
Video screens are great for OOH advertising, largely because they’re great for other engaging, locally relevant information too. Location-based video screens often offer content relating to local events, traffic and weather information, nearby special offers, and useful tips and recommendations. For instance, grocery stores can include recipes that highlight ingredients that are on sale for the week. This translates to a better experience for consumers, which is absolutely necessary for better, sustained engagement.
In addition, OOH gives businesses the chance to place visually engaging messaging in strategic locations — such as at the front of the store in full view of checkout lanes — when customers are most bored with the shopping process. According to research from Millward Brown and supermarket video ad platform Impax Media , digital signs are better at capturing attention and promoting specific items than static ads. Not only that, but they resonate well with customers:
- 96 percent of shoppers noticed the in-line screens.
- 84 percent of them viewed the content to help them pass the time in line.
- Half of the customers surveyed said that digital screens in the checkout line improved their opinion of the retailer.
Solutions like Impax’s represent a milestone in OOH advertising. Retailer content drives the programming mix, while additional non-retail information like local weather and news, event listings and other information keeps customers’ attention while they wait. By giving people the information they find most useful alongside relevant ads, it’s easier for brands to create strong positive associations in the customers’ minds. And brands can tailor their content based on locale-specific attention data, translating to higher relevance and engagement.
As we navigate what marketers are calling “the attention economy,” this kind of in-retail OOH ad delivers exactly that attention, in a way that shoppers find interesting and enjoyable.
A Holistic Local Media Mix
The most effective advertising strategies for any brand must take a holistic media approach. OOH ads, in the context of a larger media strategy, can make all your advertising more effective by reinforcing it on the local level.
When advertising includes a hyperlocal out-of-home element, its impact spikes. As the chart below from UK-based OOH trade group Outsmart demonstrates, the return on traditional media is compounded when combined with OOH advertising:
Source: Outsmart 
Local OOH placements also perform better than any other paid media types when it comes to audience recall:
Source: Outsmart 
The strategy behind where and when to use OOH is based on a simple idea: People in certain contexts will be more likely to pay attention, remember and take further action — such as making a purchase, for example — than others. For instance, customers who are already in a store are more likely to make purchase decisions that stray from their original intent — and to take advantage of relevant on-the-spot offers.
If you go into a store to buy a new coffee maker, it’s reasonable to think that you’re also going to buy coffee beans and coffee filters; while you’re there, you may also see an in-aisle ad for doughnuts and think, “Mmm, I could go for a doughnut with my coffee in the morning.” You didn’t originally intend to purchase those doughnuts, but the advertising, viewed in the right place at the right time, influenced you to make the purchase.
It’s also straightforward enough to augment your offline local ad buys with online ones. Facebook Ads, for example, allows you to target people based on location, and you can combine these geo parameters with other targeting methods to reach only the people who are truly most likely to benefit from your product.
Google’s new Map Ads feature  allows businesses to advertise in map search results, promote locations with map pins, and connect those map pins with in-store promotions. If you’re using promoted pins, you can customize your local business page to highlight products that are currently in stock in a way that’s easily accessible to prospects — with the end goal of getting more physical traffic to your store.
With local, targeted, social campaigns, brands can reach customers as they journey their way through various cities and towns, and keep their attention afterward by using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for continued engagement.
Putting It All Together
For local business, it all comes down to finding and engaging the local customer , in a way that enhances (rather than disrupts) their everyday experience in the community. Context provides powerful motivation to make purchases, and is the key to making products and services more relevant. Using local insights along with local reach is the fuel behind hyperlocal media like community publications, events, targeted ads and OOH media.
Going local delivers highly relevant and highly targeted offers throughout the various stages of the customer’s journey, both literally and metaphorically. When done correctly, your customers will feel like you’re speaking directly to them, understanding what they want and need in a highly personal way. When this happens, you’re fostering higher brand affinity and bringing people closer to doing business with you.
Locals Sign  Photo via Shutterstock