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11 Effective Local Marketing Tips for Small Businesses in 2021

Local marketing strategies can help you build engagement, higher community response, and generate more sales.

If you’re looking for a do-it-yourself approach to get more leads for your small business, use these eleven local search marketing tips to get your company in front of prospects. These tips will also help you get the best possible return on your advertising budget.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • What is local marketing?
  • How to take advantage of geo-targeting when setting up online ads
  • The importance of an online community
  • Why you should consider giving back to the local community
  • How partnering with other local businesses can boost exposure
  • What is influencer marketing and why it’s good for local marketing
  • The benefits of interest-target marketing
  • Why you should focus on local media
  • The benefits of following up with everyone you meet
  • The importance of registering with local directories
  • Why you need to incentivize positive reviews
  • How you can start using video marketing to get more traffic


What is Local Marketing?

There are many terms for local marketing – “neighbourhood marketing,” “local store marketing (LSM),” “local business marketing,” but they all mean the same thing.

Local marketing is a strategy that focuses on promoting a local business (like a mom-and-pop shop) to a local audience (those living within a specific region). This strategy mainly helps brick-and-mortar businesses with physical locations.

So, how can you get more calls and foot traffic through the door?

Let’s get started!


1. Take Advantage of Geo-Targeting When Setting Up Online Ads

Geo-targeting or local PPC (pay-per-click), means creating campaigns that focus on a consumer’s geographic location. When setting up a campaign on Google or Facebook, ensure you’re identifying your target area. Narrowing down the ad radius can help you create customized and unique copy that’ll attract your local consumer.

An example of Facebook Geo-targeting
An example of Facebook Geo-targeting

Using geo-targeting features can help you get the most bang for your buck as you’ll pay for advertising that’s shown to people who live in your geographic region only.

This allows you to reduce your overall advertising budget and still earn a better customer response than you would see from a traditional marketing campaign.

Google Ads on mobile
You can get your local ads to show up on Google Maps too!

Tip: When setting up a Google AdWords campaign for your local business, make sure your Google My Business page is connected so that your ad will run on Google Maps.

Tip 2: Make sure you have a Facebook Business page when setting up a Facebook/Instagram campaign with Facebook Ads Manager (Facebook owns Instagram).

Reference Your Neighbourhood in Ad Copy

You can increase the effectiveness of your advertising further by including references to local areas of interest in your digital copy.

Mentioning local streets, sports teams, local hashtags or other recognizable names in your ads stops people in their tracks because you’re speaking their language (both literally and figuratively).

Anything that references a local community can inspire individuals to stop scrolling and pay close attention.

Don’t forget to use the same jargon your customer would use!

E.g. If you’re creating a campaign targeting Yogis in Toronto, you can include ad copy that contains:

Relevant lingo to yogis –

  • Namaste
  • Bandha
  • Mantra
  • Om
  • Chakra
  • Breathe into your xx

The city’s nickname. In this case, instead of Toronto, you can use:

  • T.O.
  • The 6
  • Hogtown
  • The 416
  • Queen City

By emphasizing your geographic location in how you promote and design your digital ads, you can attract local consumers to your business. To set up geo-targeting campaigns on Google AdWords, check out this excellent guide by WordStream.


2. Create an Online Community

One of the most important strategies of modern marketing is to create a loyal customer following. We won’t sugar coat things, this takes time, but the results are worth it.

Some examples of how you can create a community online:

  • Create a Facebook group for a niche where you post weekly tips, questions and engage with your followers (think of a popular topic in your industry that doesn’t have a community around it and focus on that)
  • Have an open Q&A discussion on Instagram where your followers can get your help and opinion
  • Shoot, upload and share YouTube videos on DIY tips, industry trends, expert panels, etc.
  • Host online feedback sessions where your customers can pitch ideas on how to improve your product or service
  • Always ask your followers questions every time you post something online
  • Start a subreddit thread where your customers can engage with you and their peers and educate each other on a specific topic
  • Schedule an open house, a launch party or a catered meet and greet to get to know your local community directly

The key is engagement.

Loyal followers that feel engaged with your business will help you by sharing your social media posts, exclusive deals, and other forms of advertising. They will become your brand advocates, which is fantastic news for your business as word-of-mouth recommendations influence purchasing decisions.

As your relationship with your customers grows, you’ll see a stronger community commitment to the success of your business. Your customers will stick around for longer, opening the door to upselling opportunities.


3. Give Back to the Community

There is an increasing expectation that businesses should give back to their local community, not merely act as for-profit enterprises.

Community benefit programs are an excellent way for your business to earn organic news coverage that reinforces a positive reputation. It’s a great way to promote your business and get the word out on what you do. If you give enough, you might even qualify for a charitable deduction on your income tax!

Here are a few ways how you can support your local community:

  • Support a float in an annual parade
  • Sponsor a children’s sports team
  • Offer your services at a local event
  • Donate a portion of your revenue to charity
  • Offer charities to use your office for community group meetings
  • Sell tickets for a charity event online
  • Volunteer with your employees at an organization like Habitat for Humanity
Instagram post
An example of our client Marc from We-Haul cleaning up the Humber River during COVID-19 quarantine. Click to see the video.

Local newspapers always feature photos of business owners presenting checks to charities and non-profit organizations. These charities also love thanking businesses by mentioning them on their websites and social platforms.

Whether your business runs a charitable 5k or sponsors the local sports team, you can take advantage of community benefit programs to earn a tremendous amount of positive exposure for your business.


4. Coordinate with Other Local Businesses (Industry Partnerships)

Pairing with local companies can be a very effective way to increase your network and improve your overall visibility.

All businesses have local communities of loyal customers, and a cooperative partnership provides twice the visibility for a marketing campaign. Host an event together, start a sweepstakes campaign on social media, interview experts in your industry – these are just some of the ways that you can work with other business owners to promote both services/products.

Tips for collaboration:

  • Make sure to document the partnership by taking plenty of high-quality photos and short vertical videos
  • Post across both of your social media channels (cross-pollinate) and don’t forget to tag each other in each post and on each Instagram story
  • Write an email talking about the partnership and send to both of your customer lists
  • Reach out to local newspapers to discuss the importance of the alliance (and try to get featured!)


Coordinating with other companies enables both businesses to benefit by merging their social media and other marketing influence.


5. Partner with Influencers

These days, anyone can be an influencer. A social media influencer is someone who has a substantial following based on the creative content that they’ve been posting.

Celebrities were the first influencers to start promoting products in their posts. Now, micro-influencers, social media users who have more than 30,000 followers, are expected to dominate the influencer marketing space.

B2C businesses have seen 60% more engagement using these micro-influencers to promote their products, than those who have 100,000 and more followers.

An example of Fitaid running a campaign on Instagram, using a famous CrossFitter’s platform.
An example of Fitaid running a campaign on Instagram, using a famous CrossFitter’s platform.

Small businesses are partnering with these influencers to increase brand awareness and sell products/services to a specific target audience. In exchange for free products, a discount or a flat fee, influencers create content for the company.

Gary Vee Podcast b2b influencer example
An example of SAP inviting two legends to discuss technology innovation. Both speakers will be promoting this interview on their platforms.

Creative content can be in the form of a staged photo, a video testimonial, podcast, event attendance, all while making sure to tag the company and rave about their products/services in their captions.

This content would serve as social proof, enticing their followers to trust the influencer’s recommendations and hand over their credit cards. A great way to think about this partnership is like this: you’re paying someone to use their online reputation to promote your business.

According to MarketingProfs, 69% of consumer brands are using influencer marketing tactics to increase sales (the average campaign ROI is 432%!), with B2B brands slowly experimenting with this new tactic at 51%.

So that’s great news and all, but how can you, as a small business owner, take advantage of influencer marketing?

  • Select a product or service that you’d to promote and the type of content that you’d like an influencer to create for you
  • Decide on the goal of the collaboration – to increase sales, website visits, get more followers
  • Start small by looking for influencers who have a following of 5,000 + in your target city
  • Make sure they post about your industry, similar products/services or relevant content
  • Direct message them to see if they’re open to a collaboration
  • Ensure to have a strategy in place to keep track of progress


Some helpful resources to get started:


We’re going to be seeing more of these types of collaborations this year, so jump on the bandwagon quickly!


6. Setup Marketing Campaigns that Target Interests

Digital marketing has many advantages over traditional forms of marketing. One advantage is that you can set up your advertisements to target customers with specific interests.

Social media platforms and search engines acquire a vast amount of information about all their users and their likes and interests. Use this to your advantage!

As an example, if you sell exclusive honeymoon packages, you can set up a campaign on Facebook to target those who recently have gotten engaged and started to ‘like’ wedding-related Facebook pages.

Since most couples plan their honeymoons as they plan their weddings, this could be an excellent opportunity for you to get front and center and be top of mind when this couple starts to think about their honeymoon options.

Detailed Targeting Weddings on Facebook
An example of running ads targeting newly engaged couples on Facebook

With social media ads, you can get creative and fine-tune your audience based on their interests and life events.

If you’re running a local marketing campaign, targeted marketing that focuses on people with interests common to your region can be very effective.


7. Focus on Local Media

Local media organizations like radio stations, newspapers, and television stations are much easier to approach than national entities.

Many local papers will run a press release free of charge, provided it’s written in the correct format and applies to the local news coverage. Businesses should take every opportunity they can to get to know the professionals who work in local television, radio, or print publications.

Remember that any time your business is mentioned, the result is greater visibility for your brand.

Local media professionals are always busy and looking for relevant stories for their audiences. The more you learn how to be an asset to local media professionals, the more free coverage you can expect to receive.

For national coverage, if you’re an expert in your field, a great way to get featured in an article is to become a source for HARO (Help a Reporter).

Journalists are always looking for credible sources to quote when writing their piece. If you’re on the ball, watch your inbox for their emails and are first to respond when they need help, you could get featured. Most of the time, journalists would include a link to your site!


8. Get to Know People and Follow Up With Them

Whenever you host an event or sponsor a fundraiser, get to know the people who are involved. Talk to them, find out where they work, and be sure to patronize their business.

You need to set an example that you’re willing to help local businesses succeed, and the more you engage in such behaviour, the more it will get noticed.

Patronizing other local companies is a great way to strengthen your network, and it also results in valuable word-of-mouth recommendations.


9. Register With Local Business Directories

One of the most important local marketing tips is to have your business listed in as many relevant directories as possible.

A local chamber of commerce is a great place to meet other business owners and demonstrate that you wish to have a positive impact on the community.

Here a few other places where you can list your business:

  • Yelp
  • Yellowpages
  • Waze
  • Apple Maps
  • Google Maps
  • Homestars
  • Upcity

It’s essential that every listing available about your business has accurate, up-to-date information. Inaccurate information in business listings can lead to frustrated clients and negative reviews.


10. Incentivize Positive Reviews

Recent studies suggest that positive reviews on websites carry almost the same weight as a personal recommendation.

Here are some statistics that show the power of online reviews based on a study carried out by BrightLocal in 2019:

  • More than half of consumers won’t use a business if it has less than a 4-star rating
  • 86% of consumers would consider writing a review for a business
  • 72% of customers won’t take action before they read some reviews
  • 70% of consumers need to read at least four reviews before they can trust a business


In summary, don’t neglect the power of reviews.

There are a lot of creative ways to encourage customers to leave a review. For example, you can do a review party, make leaving a review a requirement of a raffle entry, or offer discounts provided customers leave reviews on your Facebook and Google My Business profile.

Positive reviews ensure more local clients will choose your business when they need the type of service you offer. As a bonus, it also helps with ranking your site higher in search.

Your online reputation is like the oil in your vehicle that makes the motor run smoothly. By maintaining a strong reputation, you will have a much easier time building a community, promoting social benefit programs, and earning positive attention from the local media.


11. Use Video

80% of businesses use video marketing as a tool to attract new customers and capture more attention.

YouTube, Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram Stories and IGTV – you can expect to find businesses and consumers posting videos everywhere.

There’s a reason for that – they’re engaging and captivating. Consumers would rather watch a 2-minute video than read a long blog post. Information is easier to process that way!

Examples of video marketing
Some examples of videos we filmed for our client CrossFit Oshawa, along with the number of views on Facebook.

Use your phone or camera to create engaging content! Show your business’ personality, introduce your employees to the world – let consumers go behind the curtain and learn about you. You can record these videos professionally or on the fly – anything works these days!

Here are some video marketing ideas:

  • Video blog
  • Webinar
  • Customer testimonials
  • Promotional videos (i.e. showcase your business)
  • Product videos
  • Explainers
  • Interview with industry experts
  • Employee interviews
  • Office party videos
  • Behind the scenes
  • Live videos (Q & A)
  • Product teaser (great if you’re about to launch something)


This strategy ties in with point number four because videos help build a community around your brand. You can also use some of the professionally-shot videos, like customer testimonials, like social media ads.

Connect with us if you’d like to shoot a professional video for your business.


Local Consumers Are Your Core Customers

It’s easy to set your sights on nationwide visibility, but all companies have to be mindful of the importance of their local customers.

Following local marketing tips allows your small business to establish a core base of loyal clients that will provide a much-needed boost to your profits and the success of all your marketing campaigns.

If you don’t have the time to implement these tactics yourself, book a 10 min call with us to see how we can help attract more traffic with local marketing strategies.

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