It’s the million dollar question for any local business owner: “how do I reach my local customers?”
If you want to reach local customers, you need to have a solid foundation: a well-built business website. A solid website has all the information your customers and potential customers could need or want, and a convenient way to contact you. Though you can’t use the website to overtly reach your customers, your business should have a website that you can direct your customers to when they find your website on search engines, social media, through a content marketing piece, or from email.
We’ve written about the important elements of a solid website before; don’t just open your brochure and start haphazardly putting the text into a website. Instead, organize the information that your customers want in a format they can easily navigate (or hire the pros to create a website) and that you can easily direct people to from email, social media, and direct mail pieces.
Think of SEO technology as a website amplifier. SEO optimizes your website for search engines, making major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo take note and list your website at the top of search engine results pages. Not just any SEO technology can do this effectively, so choose your SEO provider carefully.
If you want to use SEO to reach local customers, contact a company that provides local SEO. Local SEO gets your business at the top of the searches (not ad listings-important!) that pertain to your business by people within 10, 20, and 50 miles of your business.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the major social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat. If you want to reach your local customers, you need to harness the power of these sites for your business. Choose the right social media sites that your target audience is on, and make sure you don’t take on more social media marketing than you have time for. Start by using these tips to grow your social media followings, and be careful not to oversell on your pages.
Even though your goal is to use social media to grow your business, focus on connecting with your audience instead of selling to them. No one wants to listen to a business that continually broadcasts advertisements at them. Instead, use humor (when appropriate), excellent customer service (please answer their messages!), relevant information, tips, community information, and anything else your customers want to hear to build trust.
Local review websites don’t help you directly reach out to your customers, but they do help build trust when customers are trying to find you. When they do, use common internet review sites like Yelp or Angie’s List to your advantage. Fill out a complete profile on top review sites and ask your customers to post feedback after their experience with your company. If you have multiple locations, you may have to create numerous profiles.
Content marketing is exactly what it says: producing content for marketing. Basically, you write about topics that your audience wants to know about (i.e. tips, advice, checklists, etc.) and use different methods to promote it. For example, if you are a pet store, you would write about choosing the right food for your cat. The article would be posted to a blog, then sent out in an email to your customers with pet food specials and scheduled to post to social media. If you don’t know what to write about, or don’t have the time to write new content, use these tips to select a content marketing firm that can.
In addition to building trust with your audience, content marketing has another benefit. Adding relevant content to your website can gain the attention of search engines and improve your ranking in search engine listing.
Connect with your local customers through their inbox—with their consent of course. Use these tips to build a quality email list (please don’t buy lists) and add sending emails with strong attention-getting headlines and strong call-to-actions to your to-do list. Make sure your emails are relevant and relatable, and that you give your email subscribers the chance to ‘unsubscribe’ when they want (it’s the law).
Contrary to the obnoxious naysayers, direct mail as a marketing tactic is not dead. However, the days of sending direct mail after direct mail pieces out is. Instead, integrate direct mail into your marketing plan as a targeted effort. Target customers with services that you know they are going to want to know about, such as an accessory sale for a product they had bought. In addition to direct mail, use other marketing tactics to spread the word about your sale (i.e. content marketing pieces about product maintenance, social media posts with memes, etc.).
Whether online or traditional, there is value in advertising. The key to a successful advertisement (and any marketing tactic, really) is to know who your customers are and advertise in media where they go for information. If your customer base is younger, look into advertising on search engines or social media. Make sure you target local customers in online advertisements; if you don’t have the opportunity to target your online ads, you’re not going to reach the potential customers you want.
We know a marketing plan is not technically a marketing tactic, but it is an important element of reaching your local customers. Instead of randomly employing these tactics to drive sales whenever you hit a lull, use a marketing plan to strategically promote your business all year round (here’s how to draft a solid marketing plan for local customers). If you don’t have the time or expertise, contact a company that can draft a marketing plan and help you reach your local customers.