To a point, online marketing for local and national customers follow the same path.
Eventually, small to medium business (SMB) proprietors discover that local marketing presents a particular set of challenges, not the least of which is slanting the SEO keywords in the right direction.
Marketers have long known that customers in wide-apart regions will buy similar products for very different reasons.
For example, the resident of New Mexico requires fine woolens for going on vacation, whereas the Montana resident may need similar attire for everyday wear.
Knowing this will provide solutions on how to slant keywords to your various market segments.
Whether the brand is established or a start-up, service providers invariably cater to local markets.
You may want to create a local customer base for your domestic plumbing business or you may have developed a service to cater for a particular regional need, like seasonal flooding or pest eradication.
Bear in mind the following points when running a local marketing campaign.
Information is ammunition: putting your story across.
Every brand has a story and your SMB has a history, too.
It could be that you created a great range of bakes following a college course or under the tuition of an older relative.
The names of established foods ranges often reflect this origin, for example “Grandma’s Cookies” or “Uncle Bob’s Pies”.
Even organisational businesses have their stories, like a law practice dedicated to local legal problems, land disputes, highway and watercourse routes.
Whatever it is, uncover the history of your business.
If it is a takeover or you have inherited it from a relative, talk to older people and family members.
Request access to archives, uncover photographs and get testimonials from former customers.
The priority here is to mix with and speak to people.
If you are the business founder, delve into the forces that caused you to enter your particular line of work.
Uncover images from your formative years and from the earlier days of the business and again, get testimonials from satisfied customers.
At this stage, information is ammunition; do not dismiss any piece of material as irrelevant or insignificant.
Telling a great story.
When you have exhausted your information sources, you are ready to tell your story.
You may have someone in your firm who is able to piece the story together from your images and testimonials, and this person may be you.
Whoever you use, it is important that your storyteller understands the message that you want to get across and to whom.
You may sell the tastiest pies or provide the fastest call-out service in your small town, but you will have to rethink your marketing strategy to stand up to regional competition.
Even if you are a brilliant storyteller, it is advisable to hire a content marketing expert to assess your website.
If you are experienced at search engine optimization, switch places and find a storyteller whose copy you will later vet.
If you are blog content outsourcing, search media directories for local online writers and scan their posts for the content and presentation style you admire; a local writer may even be a source of information.
Look for journalists with ties to local publications.
Seek out small, local online publications that have pages to fill.
A number of these provide content writing services, and you will be able to connect your website with their broader audiences.
However, a great website is only the starting point of your online marketing campaign.
Marketing and the affection connection.
One advantage of marketing locally is that walk-in customers often have an emotional connection to the business.
The store or showroom may be a landmark in the town or they were taken there as children by their parents.
You can extend this connection by appealing to the community in other ways.
Tie in the history of your business with that of local events, for example, your forbears provided food or clothing or basement bailouts in a time of emergency.
Get in touch with local radio or if your district has one, a television station, and offer to tell your story on airtime.
If your SMB is new, watch out for local anniversaries and stage a connected event.
Invite local officials and if possible, win the endorsement of a local celebrity.
Again, make use of your website and local media to publicize your involvement.
The affection connection comes into play here; people tend to listen to people with whom they identify.
If possible, find local partners, people who will passively promote your brand in return for minor concessions.
You may even gain permission to use their photographs as part of your online marketing campaign.