One of the best ways to build rapport with local communities and potential customers is to develop a strategy to get noticed in your area’s markets. Getting your name out in nearby business circles can go a long way toward building rapport and opening up new opportunities. Yet, not all strategies are created equal, especially when talking about smaller markets. That’s why we asked entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following:
“What is the best way to make your business noticeable in a small, local market?”
Local Marketing Ideas
Here’s what they had to say:
1. Be Everywhere Online
“Create, claim and update all the local business listings and profiles. In addition to your website, be sure you maintain an updated and active Google local business listing, a Facebook page and any other site that offers local profiles for your industry. When a user searches for “my town” + “your service,” ensure that they see you everywhere. This builds trust and authenticity.” ~ Shawn Schulze, HomeArea.com
2. Put a Face to the Company
“In a small local market, your company can stand out by putting a face to the company or product. People have an easier time trusting a company when they know who’s behind the curtain. The more they trust you, the more likely they’ll be to buy. So, make sure to get out in the community, introduce yourself and interact with others. If you put up local ads, consider adding a photo of yourself as well.” ~ John Turner, SeedProd LLC
3. Give Away Samples
“In a small local market, I find that giving away free samples of your product (if that’s possible) can do wonders. There’s a local chocolate maker that we worked with that used this strategy effectively. They hired two students at minimum wage to give away chocolate samples along with a brochure in some of the busiest intersections of the city at rush hour. Rinse and repeat.” ~ Amine Rahal, Little Dragon Media
4. Volunteer for the Long Haul
“The best way to be noticed in a small community is to be a great community member. Be present, support causes that matter and make an impact over the long haul. It’s one thing to sponsor jerseys for a softball team, it’s another to spend time every week helping a local organization. When you make an impact, people will notice you, and in the process learn about your business.” ~ Aaron Schwartz, Passport
5. Encourage Reviews From Existing Customers
“What steps are you taking to gather feedback from your existing audience? If you aren’t leveraging them as part of your solution, then you’re missing out on an opportunity to be seen and heard in your local community. People love to search for reviews before trying out new products, services, businesses, you name it. If you don’t have many reviews to your name, it’s time to start encouraging them more.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
6. Focus on Voice Search SEO
“Voice search SEO is important when it comes to getting your small, local business noticed. Start thinking about the types of requests your customers might make when searching for your product or service with their smart home device or smartphone and shift your SEO strategy to focus on those new keywords. It’s also important that you add your business to places like Google My Business and Yelp.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress
7. Send Out Newsletters
“The best way I have found here in my local market is to be placed in a newsletter that is available to consumers in restaurants, vendors, coffee shops, etc. This professional ad will allow you some good credibility and visibility in the market.” ~ Julian Montoya, JM11 Investments
8. Use Direct Mail
“Millennials love direct mail and it works on a local level to target those specific customers and prospects. It does so in a way that covers a significant territory for relatively little money and high return.” ~ Peter Daisyme, Hostt
9. Attend Local Events
“Local events like conferences, trade fairs and markets provide a good way for a small business to get noticed in their community. They can personally interact with locals and start building trust.” ~ John Hall, Calendar.com
10. Distribute Flyers and Buy Local Ad Space
“It’s a good idea to make yourself known to the community. Using traditional marketing materials will allow you to accelerate the growth of your business and bring in the local traffic. Often these ad spaces are easy to work with and will give you a good boost. Google ads also help you cover the search intent traffic that is already looking for you.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
11. Create Helpful Videos
“Through Facebook Ads, you can easily target people in a local community. Instead of creating a traditional ad that tries to make a sale, try creating helpful videos for your community that position you as someone of value. At the end of the video tell them what you do and where they can find you. Put these videos out weekly and spend $1 to $5 per day advertising them, and you will be a local celebrity.” ~ Greg Rollett, Ambitious Media Group
12. Embrace Branding
“In many cases, small local businesses are more likely to be relaxed and not focus as heavily on brand identity. If you want to stand out from everyone else, then you need to identify your brand identity and stick with it as your company evolves. Once you become known locally, it’s only a matter of time until you have a recognizable brand on your hands.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
#1, #3, #9 are my favorites. Even stuff as simple as sponsoring local athletic teams or school events can get you in front of a lot of people so they know who you are and what you do.
The problem with a casino sponsoring schools is the backlash from the community and churches that say that the “casino” are promoting gambling to the youth and once a school sees that you are sponsoring a school, the schools come out with their hands out. If you don’t give to one school they go out and trash the brand. If you sponsor a school let everyone know you are sponsoring one school and that is it.
I agree. It is about being present and knowing how to get them to try your products and services.
#5 is really the most important, and is the thing that makes #1 useful.
Some of these are helpful, but business owners have to be careful not to overextend themselves trying to do it all. Best to focus and invest resources wisely rather than “spray and pray”
Without consistency, “being everywhere” doesn’t do much for you.
It is important to be discoverable and present, but a bunch of inactive profiles can actually do harm. And profiles aren’t worth much without a significant number of positive, real reviews. Choose a few channels and invest in those.
1) Google My Business
2) Facebook (and local groups)
3) Local meetups and other in-person communities that meet regularly and add new members frequently