It’s easy to take the “follow the leader” approach to marketing. After all, if that marketing tactic has worked for other (bigger) businesses, it should work for you, right? However, following the “big dogs” can be the wrong strategy when you’re trying to reach local customers and they are marketing to a much larger, national audience.
We’re not saying you can’t use resources that national suppliers send your way, or use elements of a national strategy in your marketing. But you should avoid these marketing pitfalls we’ve seen many local businesses make when they use marketing tactics meant for a not-so-local audience.
Not showcasing your community involvement
If you want to reach your local customers, show them you’re in their community—and an active participant. Share an occasional social media post about an event you sponsor, pictures of a public event you’re involved in (i.e. business trick-or-treating, class your staff gave at a local school or group, etc.), or any other proof that you are a trust-worthy member of your community.
Forgetting to include a solid contact page with your website
This is local business 101: if you want your local customers to contact you and you want search engines to bring up your address in search results, you NEED a contact us page with all your information on your website. It’s shocking how many businesses don’t include that basic information on their website.
Not investing in local SEO
More than 90% of online users use search engines to find information. If your business is not listed on the search engine, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to get their attention and their business. There are many kinds of SEO that businesses use for their website; local SEO gets your business in front of users within a certain radius of your business (and your business locations). Don’t just take our word on it; research the what, why, and how of local SEO before you invest in this valuable marketing tool (and read about the proof that it works).
Thinking you have to be everywhere
Overreaching is one of the most common mistakes we see local business owners make; they want to reach EVERYONE so bad that they miss out on the opportunity to reach their targeted local audience. These business owners see the ‘big dogs’ on every social media site, and they follow by signing up for every social media site. Unfortunately, they can’t keep up with the workload and the result is that they miss out on what they set out to achieve: reaching their local audience (more info on effective tactics to reach a local audience here).
Treating social media like a world-wide connector
Your local business social media strategy should be different than a national business with a wide scope. One of the biggest (and most common) errors we see is a local business that doesn’t have its contact information on social media. If your social media goal is aimed at your local customers, carry it out with solid marketing tactics in your social media plan.
Not using email to connect with customers
Email marketing is one of the most valuable tools for small business owners, but one that they often don’t utilize. We’re not talking about cold-selling emails sent to addresses on an email list bought online. We’re talking about emails sent to customers who have given you their consent to send them emails (use this info to build your email list)—customers who want to hear from you and have an interest in your business.
Failing to include calls to action in your marketing
What do you want your customers to do? Surprisingly, one of the biggest mistakes we see local businesses make is not telling their customers what they want them to do. To be clear, this doesn’t mean always screaming in their face: “CALL US NOW!” The right call-to-action is somewhere in between; a sentence or graphic that lets your customers know what they can do to find an answer to their problem (you, the local business!).
Not taking advantage of local reviews
Local reviews of your business—positive local reviews—are an important part of marketing to local customers that many business owners fail to utilize. Ask for local reviews on social media and local review sites, and respond to those customers that indicate they had a less-than-stellar experience. Showcase your company’s responsiveness and excellent customer service—and enjoy the results of a sound local marketing tactic.