Small, local businesses face unique challenges when it comes to marketing. While many marketing techniques may be effective for larger corporations, they may not yield the same results for small businesses operating within a specific community. Investing in expensive advertising campaigns or generic marketing strategies that fail to resonate with local consumers can be a waste of precious resources.
To offer their thoughts on the matter, eight Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) members weigh in on the following question:
“What’s one marketing technique you don’t feel is as effective for small, local businesses, and why? What should they try instead?”
Here are the strategies they recommend small-business owners steer clear of.
1. Search Engine Marketing
“Search engine marketing (SEM) can be a waste of time for small, local businesses — especially for brick-and-mortar stores where the majority of their business comes from the community around them. Instead of spending a large budget on SEM, we’ve seen that a local, direct mail strategy will often pay large dividends over SEM. Mail is more personal and allows businesses to connect more deeply with the community.” ~ Arian Radmand, IgnitePost
2. Social Media Marketing
“If I had to name one marketing technique that isn’t as effective for small businesses, I would say, broadly speaking, social media marketing. Sure, there are opportunities to talk to your local customers; however, an overwhelming majority of people who see your content don’t live within 50 miles of your physical store. Instead, focus your resources on local SEO, advertising and partnerships.” ~ Daman Jeet Singh, FunnelKit
3. Mass Media Advertising
“Mass media advertising may not be effective for small, local businesses due to its high cost and poor targeting. Instead, these businesses should focus on hyperlocal marketing strategies to connect with their target audience and drive sales. These strategies include local SEO, geo-targeted social media ads, location-based mobile marketing and sponsorship of or participation in local events.” ~ Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz
4. Traditional Outbound Marketing
“Most traditional outbound marketing strategies are really challenging for small businesses as they tend to be both costly and time-consuming. This includes cold calling, TV and radio advertising and untargeted direct mail campaigns, such as mailers to every home in a neighborhood. You’re better off focusing on a more targeted approach that includes SEO, such as Google Business Profile optimization.” ~ Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
5. TV or Print Ads
“One marketing technique that may not be as effective for small, local businesses is traditional advertising, such as TV or print ads. These methods can be costly and may not reach the right target audience. Instead, small businesses should focus on building a strong online presence through social media and search engine optimization.” ~ Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
6. Virtual Public Relations
“Small, local businesses shouldn’t spend a ton of time with virtual PR, like guest posting. The people who will eventually read your work are likely not close to your storefront. I recommend putting your efforts into building rapport with your community. Attend local events and focus on attracting people who are likely to walk into your store and make a purchase.” ~ Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
7. Pay-Per-Click Campaigns
“Digital acquisition methods, including SEO and pay-per-click campaigns, don’t always deliver a high ROI for small, local businesses. These techniques are expensive, and you need to spend a lot of money to generate impactful results. Instead, smaller businesses should prioritize customer retention through loyalty programs. It’s cheaper to market your brand to existing customers, which yields a higher ROI.” ~ Ian Blair, BuildFire
8. An Email List
“Building an extensive email list isn’t an impactful marketing strategy for small businesses. This is because their audience is small and unlikely to need or even like regular email updates. Instead, I would suggest building relationships with their local community through activities like sponsoring events and building relationships with influencers in their area to help grow their brand.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress