15 Effective and Creative Ways to Market to Local Customers


As a new small business, engaging your community is crucial to getting your business off the ground. The goal is to nurture lasting relationships that will drive your revenue and increase brand awareness; however, forming genuine connections with members of your community requires strategy and patience.

To help you do this, 15 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) answered the following question:

“What’s one effective and creative way small businesses can market to their local communities and bring in new customers?”

Follow their advice to become a staple of your community.

1. Reach Out to Other Local Businesses

“One of the best ways to market yourself to your local community is to reach out to other local businesses. You might be surprised how many are willing to partner up in some capacity. For example, a business might have heavy footfalls but a tiny email list, so you could offer to mention them in your newsletters in exchange for physical advertising on their premises. You can be as creative as you like.” ~ Ismael Wrixen, FE International

2. Get Involved in the Community

“We like to give back when and where we can. Over the years, we have met so many incredible people, some of which have become clients or referred us to friends. Volunteering is win-win. You get to help those in need while expanding your network and making people aware of your business.” ~ Zach Binder, Bell + Ivy

3. Host a Family-Friendly Event

“Even if the products or services your business offers aren’t targeted toward children, think of a fun event that your business can host that people would want to bring their children to. Parents are often looking for low-cost or free and local things to do with their kids, especially during school breaks. You will be serving the community and making real connections.” ~ Reuben Yonatan, SaasList

4. Partner With a Nonprofit Organization

“Small businesses can partner with local nonprofits on an event or support in another related way. Nonprofits develop strong relationships within the local community, and the best ones have a way of naturally bringing people together. Many people enjoy supporting their local businesses, especially ones that are doing good in the community — acts of kindness they can see firsthand.” ~ Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports

5. Offer Local Discount Codes and Free Shipping

“Giving codes and free shipping to the community will lure and encourage more people to order in a breeze. Through word of mouth, the love of this local community will bring you to another level of status and earn loyalty within your community.” ~ Daisy Jing, Banish

6. Personalize Your Branding and Messaging

“Personalize the branding to the community. If you are selling physical products, provide a special edition unique to the community at hand. Consumers love to feel close to their purchases and there is no better way than providing them this unique offering. When it’s a special edition, you create a mindset that there is a greater value behind the product.” ~ Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.

7. Sponsor a Community Project

“Sponsor or volunteer a community project that benefits a school, town or neighborhood. For example, if you host a public speaking seminar, then you will have interested students and adults looking to improve themselves and to see you as an authority figure. Find a cause that either aligns with your branding or personal interest. This creates exponential benefits for prospects and yourself.” ~ Duran Inci, Optimum7

8. Collaborate With Other Organizations

“One of the most effective and creative ways your small business can grow and support other businesses is through collaboration. Collaboration can offer opportunities to educate your customers and to become a go-to source of information. It can help you grow your network and reach an audience you never would have bumped into otherwise and it can also inspire you to try time- and money-saving tools.” ~ Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

9. Donate Your Services

“Give back. Join a charity or nonprofit and give away services. Often this will lead to more business from those charity members. They will share your values and want to help your business succeed, as it helps the charity succeed long term. Plus, you are giving back.” ~ Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

10. Sign Up for Local Business Listings

“For a small business to market to its local community, it’s important to take advantage of local listings. Putting your business on Google My Business indexes it so those nearby see your results when they search for relevant results. It helps customers make a decision when they’re able to see ratings, reviews, photos and more.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

11. Sponsor a Local Sports Team

“Participate in a local event or sponsor a local team. For example, if you get signage at a local ballpark, that’s a great way to bring in new customers who might not even know your business exists. Making a donation to a charitable event would get you the same result.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

12. Add a Location Geotag to Your Social Media Content

“One effective way to get noticed locally is to create stories on social media and to add a location geotag to your story. It’ll show up for people looking for content in that area, and you have a great chance of getting noticed and drawing people to your business, especially from the younger generation who historically influence their family’s buying behavior.” ~ Blair Williams, MemberPress

13. Leverage Your Facebook Business Page

“An underestimated way to get visibility online is by creating a business page on Facebook. Facebook has specific page formats for local stores. You’ll be able to add information like location, timings and other details, and search engines do take such pages into account when showing results for local searches. Make sure your brand has profiles and pages on social media.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

14. Explore Traditional Outdoor Ads

“Traditional advertising such as billboards is still something that can be effective for a local community. You can do a lot with people on their phones, but there is still ad space out in the world that is very relevant.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.

15. Directly Engage Your Customers

“Direct-to-consumer brands have redefined how to engage with their customers by offering personal instruction or coaching. Orangetheory Fitness and gyms are a great example of this, offering on-demand classes. Recent global events have shifted people’s priorities and how they spend their money. The opportunity for small businesses is to design digital products and services that better engage customers.” ~ Ryan Stoner, Dendro

Image: Depositphotos

More in:

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.