Make a Splash in Your Own Backyard: Local Marketing Tactics By Lou Bortone
For most small businesses, all marketing is local marketing — as it should be. But even if your company is regional or national in scope, it's a good idea to "go local" to select, targeted communities.
The keys to effective community marketing can be summed up with three guidelines:
1. Get local: target your marketing efforts down to the neighborhood level
2. Get involved: participate in the community to generate visibility and good will
3. Get personal: as much as possible, market on a one-to-one, face-to-face basis
Here are some tips and techniques to get you started:
Use local city-specific Web sites and local portals
City and town Web sites, as well as local versions of major portals, are growing in number and popularity. Maintain a presence on local sites by providing content — or by advertising. In addition to local versions of AOL's Cityguide, community-oriented Web sites like Yelp.com and Judysbook.com (which has the added advantage of covering suburbs and small towns in addition to major cities) are becoming more common.
Use local search engines and directories
Make sure you're listed with local search engines and city-specific directories. Local. com and CitySearch are two such search engines. A newer, but more "hyper-local" site is Backfence.com.
Set your Google ad to appear locally
If you operate a local business and advertise on Google, you can target local customers only. Google lets you set ads to appear only to people in a particular city, state or region. In the AdWords section, click on "For local businesses" under "How it works."
Get involved in your community
Volunteer, serve on local boards, participate in your local Chamber of Commerce and work for local charities as a way to grow your grassroots marketing efforts. You may find that your neighbors become your customers. For volunteer opportunities, visit idealist.org, The United Way, or Rotary International.
Support community events
Take your community involvement one step further by supporting community events. Sponsor a Little League team, participate in parades, town days or other local events. Small business associations such as SCORE offer tips for establishing a strong presence in your local community. Suggestions include starting a local newsletter or creating a local advisory board made up of customers. John Jantsch's "Duct Tape Marketing" blog's "In your own backyard" section is insightful as well.
Make the most of local media and publicity opportunities
Generate awareness for your business locally by writing op-eds in the local newspaper, getting booked on local radio talk shows, and advertising in the good, old- fashioned Yellow Pages. Online community Craigslist continues to be a great local resource. For help getting booked on radio talk shows and otherwise generating local publicity, seek out the services of a good local public relations consultant by searching the directory of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
Other local marketing options to keep in mind...
* Explore cause-related marketing opportunities to generate good will for your company.
* Consider taping a TV show on your local public access station — it's usually free.
* Give your Web site or blog a local focus or start a local blog.
* Develop a customer advisory board to get input from local customers.
* Create alliances with non-competing businesses — you promote me, I'll promote you.
About the author: Lou Bortone is an author and entrepreneur with extensive experience in marketing, branding and promotion. Before starting his own company, Lou was an award-winning marketing executive in the media industry. Today, Lou helps entrepreneurs and solo professionals navigate their online businesses with services such as copywriting, video production and creative services. Sign up for Lou's free mini audio course about using Online Video at The Online Video Guy .