Whether you’re a restaurant, a photographer or web designer, you’re facing competition. Not just from other small businesses, but from big name competitors. Competitors with name recognition, an established history, and a larger marketing budget in a single month than your entire operational costs for several years.
Yes, there’s a push among many consumers to buy locally. But let’s face facts. Both big box retailers and ecommerce giants still dominate the consumer landscape. A recent poll from Accenture indicated that 82 percent of millennials—now poised to be the largest consumer segment in history—preferred to shop at large, brick and mortar retailers over ecommerce.
There is one substantial advantage small businesses have over big name competitors, however: local marketing. No matter how convenient or flashy a chain retailer might be, they’re rarely considered part of a community. Nor would they want to be. They’re too massive and too concerned with expansion to focus on the needs of local communities. And even if a large corporate chain does have name recognition, more and more consumers prefer to give back to their community by supporting local independent businesses.
But you can’t simply hang a banner in front of your establishment and proclaim yourself “locally owned” to drive your business. Customers need to seek you out. They need to know how to find you. They need to want to find you.
Improve your child care with these local marketing tips
Here are eight tips that can help drive the local marketing campaigns of your business:
1. Expand Your Social Media Presence
This seems fairly simple, correct? After all, everyone and their aunt is using social media these days. Just set up a separate profile for your business and watch the customers roll in, right?
Well… It’s not that simple. While many locally owned businesses have established a social media presence, they’re not really using it to their full advantage. They’re not running promotions. They’re rarely updating. They’re not engaging with either local residents or other businesses. In short, they’re not building much of a community at all.
You need to develop content that reflects your local community as much as your own personal brand—even if you set up shop from out of town only a month ago. Content can range from raving about how much you love your new city on your personal blog to supporting local events and fundraisers by sharing them. The point is you should strive to be seen as part of a larger community—not just a faceless cog.
2. Target Your Location
Developing content that highlights your location is a fairly simple process. Every city and town has its own unique history and attractions. But to get people to notice on both social media and in web searches? You need to develop location specific keywords.
Frequently, this can be as simple as the name of your city alongside your service. The easiest way to highlight your service is by using Google AdWords. AdWords allows your site to be shown only in selected locations, and ensures your content appears at the top of any search for your keywords. Location targeting can also be achieved through purchasing Facebook Ads, which will help display and highlight your service to local users.
Neither of these are free, but the cost is minimal for the return on your investment. Many local businesses report a dramatic increase in click throughs and engagement as a result of using both. And both can be a far easier and effective investment than printing glossy flyers or taking out local newspaper ads.
3. Support Your Fellow Local Businesses
Two great examples of this are, not surprisingly, Facebook and Twitter. Not simply because they’re two of the most popular, but because they lend themselves more freely to local marketing. It’s very easy to like, follow, share and retweet another local business. Typically, they’ll respond in kind. And the more a post is shared, the more likely their customers will follow you as a result. Again: communities support communities.
4. Engage With Your Followers (Especially If They’re New)
Many businesses unintentionally avoid interacting with their followers. They post the same content repeatedly, ignore comments and do nothing to personalize their presence. The result is that they appear just as nameless and faceless as their big box counterparts. They’re just smaller.
It’s possible to humanize social media. Take the time to build rapport with your followers. Update content regularly—two or three times a week should be sufficient. Answer any questions they might have (especially complaints; that’s the only way to improve service). Offer special promotions or discounts. Consider following them back. In short, try to appear like a friendly next door neighbor.
5. Ask Your Followers To Spread The Word
One good review on Yelp! or similar sites can do wonders for your business. There are two drawbacks to this, however. For one, you can’t openly solicit for reviews. Another is a bit more baffling. There are some people who take delight in leaving negative reviews for no apparent reason other than they simply aren’t going to be satisfied, no matter what.
You can’t stop either. And in the case of the latter, you don’t need them as a customer. But if you send out regular email blasts (and it’s strongly encouraged you should), you can include a general statement such as “We welcome public feedback” in the signature. Most people will jump at the chance to refer a new business—and in many cases, established ones, as well.
6. Consider Joining Your Local Chamber Of Commerce
Yes, it does cost a fee. And yes, many of you may be wondering why they’re necessary in the day and age of social media. For one, think of it as a business support group on a civic level. It not only places you in touch with other local businesses who are willing to promote you, it also offers you discounts on necessary operating supplies with participating establishments.
More importantly, it gives your business an aura of credibility—a fundamental benefit when considering any marketing strategy.
7. Attend (Or Sponsor) A Networking Social Night
Many local businesses face the same dilemma as you when attracting customers. Many can also share marketing tips and referrals. A social night is an informal way to network with the local business community over coffee or drinks.
While it can definitely serve as a means of support, there’s an additional bonus. Most businesses are happy to support one another—even their competitors. They’ll be happy to refer customers to you, display your business cards and frequently partner with you because they know the challenges you’re facing and can relate. If there isn’t one in your local city, consider starting one; Meetup and Craigslist are two popular choices.
8. Sponsor A Community Event
Not only does this help highlight your name, but it serves two deeper purposes. For one, it shows that you’re civic-minded and looking to forge a deeper connection with your local community. It’s what helps you establish roots, and roots by default means longevity. For another, community events frequently benefit local charities and non-profit organizations. This establishes you as someone who is concerned about the well-being of others, and your customer base will notice and appreciate that concern.
For more helpful information on marketing your childcare services, please feel free to contact us or visit Local Child Care Marketing.