Local Area Marketing for your small business

1. Know your market.

Make sure you really understand the pond you are fishing in.  The demographics of one suburb to the next can vary vastly.  You want to be really clear on the profile of  your locality.  What’s the % of families, vs retirees, vs singles vs couples.  Where they work, how much they earn, nationality etc.

This will really help you understand the opportunities for building your brand locally?  Do you have the right offers and right messages given your market and their sensitivities?  I know an agency that specialised in recruiting Nanny’s and Childcarer’s initially in a location in Sydney.  Further research into their target market, showed a high percentage of ageing people and retirees as well as families.  This gave the business the opportunity to reposition their brand and offering to provide carers for aged care as well as children

To access a FREE breakdown of the demographics of your local area, tap into the resources at the Australian Bureau of Statistics that offers many free reports and others at a very reasonable price – http://www.abs.gov.au/

Also know the habits of those you are targeting.  If busy Mum’s are key target group in your local area, find out all the places they go regularly. There’s lots of different ways you can do it but be clear on where you need to be seen.

2. Stand Out

Brand everything – it’s the best opportunity you have to raise awareness for nothing.  Your car, your staff (think uniforms), your shopfront or office premises need good signage.  Perhaps you could even brand your customers.  You can now buy personalised/branded Tattoo’s – what a great way to get the kids in your area to be your brand ambassadors!

3. Put yourself on the Map

By maps I mean those on Google.  You don’t even have to have your own web site to get found in Google.  You can create a simple listing in www.hotfrog.com.au and then register your page with Google’s Local Business Center.

That way if people are searching for a service in your area you’ll be on the map in the search results.  These days if you don’t have some sort of internet presence (a site or page and a presence in the search results) for many you don’t exist.

A Facebook fan page can also be a great way to engage your local community and it’s a less intrusive way of sending updates about your service, any events you are running or offers than email.

4. Get in front of your local media

Find out who the editors are of your local paper and introduce yourself.  A simply friendly introduction is a great start, a follow up phone call will give you the opportunity to find out what topics or local leads are of interest to them.  Make sure you read the local press regularly to get a sense of the sort of stories they are writing that they feel are interesting to the public.

Also, let the advertising team know what budget you have available to spend on any advertising (even if it’s small) and who you are targeting.  That way you are on their radar for any editorial features or specials that are a good fit for your brand.

5. Hold an event

Putting together an event to create some buzz around your business!  If you are a ladies fashion store, perhaps hold your own fashion parade and invite your local hairdresser to do some of the styling and share the costs.

If holding your own event seems all too hard, most local councils have a calendar of events on their web site that you can get involved with to help target local consumers and businesses.

6. Give back

Volunteer to raise money for a local charity or cause.  Volunteer for Canteen duty and the local tuckshop or perhaps volunteer services for an event.

This will usually help you raise your profile locally and give you exposure to important influencers (such as the local media, other local businesses and local identities).

Giving back to your community not only feels good it helps build trust about you and your brand in your local community.

Pick a charity that’s aligned with your brand values and resonates with your target audience.

7. Play to win…

Enter in your local business awards.  Simply being a finalist or nomination will usually mean your brand get’s lots of exposure leading up to the awards and if you’re lucky enough to win you get the bragging rights that go along with it.

Being able to boast that your community recognises you as a leading service or retailer in your community adds stacks of credibility to your brand and differentiates you from your competitors.

8. Grow a database

Get every single customer on a database.  This may seem like a no-brainer but I would say the majority of small businesses targeting their local market neglect to do it. In fact, if I think of all the places I regularly frequent in my local area – I could probably safely say I receive regular communication from maybe 3 or 4 businesses out of the 20 or so that I would be a customer of.

If you find it hard to ask your customers for their details and whether they mind you sending them stuff – give them a reason to accept.  Start a loyalty programme or a VIP club.  You’ll not only get them coming back to you – you’ll learn more about them.

9. Join the club

Become part of your local business community.  Join your local chamber and attend their meetings and events.  There are countless other local business groups such as Business Swap, BNI and many more that provide you an opportunity to network with other business owners.  Many will not be competitors but might target the same market.

10. Keep your customers happy

Being part of a small community is both a blessing and curse.  People will more quickly talk about a bad experience than they will a good one – so looking after your customers is critical.  If you’re the business owner but you can’t be there 24/7 make sure you have a way of getting feedback from customers regardless.

Michelle Gamble is the founder of marketing consultancy firm, Marketing Angels. She has been a Marketing Manager, a specialist in online and direct marketing, an Interactive Communications Manager, a Business Development and Channel Manager. 
Having managed all aspects of customer relationships and marketing both online and offline, Michelle sets strategic direction and develops tactical plans for implementation that achieve results and drive sales. In total, she has 14 years experience across multiple industries

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