- Geo-targeting essential. Social media offers geo-targeting for precise local advertising, increasing community engagement.
- SEO optimization. “Near me” searches are frequent, making a Google Business Profile and mobile-first strategy critical.
- Traditional Tactics. Traditional methods like radio and event presence alongside digital strategies amplify local marketing reach.
Local marketing refers to the strategies and activities that are used by businesses to target and engage with customers in a specific area or local community. It focuses on promoting products or services to customers within a particular region or area. Local marketing aims to build a strong presence in the local market, increase brand visibility, attract local customers and drive traffic to physical stores. This article will examine tactics, strategies and tips for brands interested in local marketing.
What Are Some of the Types of Local Marketing?
Many types of marketing practices are included under the umbrella of local marketing. One example is a brand that sells gift products that tourists often buy when they visit destinations such as the beach, the mountains or specific locations, such as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls. In each case, businesses that sell such products simply reach out to companies near each locale to see if they would like to carry the brand’s tourist products in their stores. Additionally, they participate in Facebook Groups for each tourist destination.
Another example of local marketing is when businesses adjust the products or services they sell based on the tastes, habits, culture and beliefs of the people living in the area of the service. Such a business would also adjust the marketing or advertising copy to reflect the social norms of the people in the area. One can see examples of this in international brands that sell their goods or services across the globe to people with very different tastes, habits and beliefs.
Yet another example of local marketing is the use of geolocation apps that send customers a text message or alert when they are physically near a brand’s location, such as driving by in their car, walking past a store or restaurant, or strolling through a large store that has other businesses within its premises. One example would be a fast food restaurant in a Super Walmart. When a customer that has downloaded the restaurant’s app to their mobile device is in Walmart, the app sends an alert to the customer’s phone, letting them know that they are offering a two-for-one deal on Quarter Pounders, for instance.
Finally, many businesses operate exclusively as local brands. Buckeye Donuts, which is located in Columbus, Ohio, is not trying to market its goods to people in other states. Its marketing and advertising campaigns are mainly based on word-of-mouth, local advertising, radio, local periodicals and participation in community events.
How Are Brands Using Local Marketing?
Many brands today are using local marketing in their communities and around the world. One unique instance of local marketing involves a collaboration between Mattel and Airbnb. Initially launched in October 2019, Airbnb announced that the Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse, located in Malibu, California, would be available for rent by one lucky guest, who could bring along three guests of their own, for the low price of $60 per night. It was designed to raise awareness of The Barbie Dream Gap Project GoFundMe initiative, which aims to help level the playing field for young women so they can follow their dreams.
We recently looked at another excellent example of a brand’s use of local marketing in an article on cultural intelligence. McDonald’s demonstrated the importance of adapting to different cultures in its marketing practices, product offerings and even its pricing. In India, where religious prohibitions prevent adherents from eating beef, McDonald’s introduced vegetarian options and replaced beef patties with mutton, chicken or fish.
In Thailand, where the minimum wage is much lower than in other parts of the world, McDonald’s lowered the cost of its Big Mac to approximately US $2.20 (contrasted to Switzerland, where Big Macs sold for around US $6.20). In order to adapt to local culture in China, McDonald’s offered rice as a french fry alternative.
Additionally, McDonald’s uses different media personalities and influencers to promote its brand based on the cultural tastes of the locale. Its ability to adapt and change its products, marketing practices, pricing and advertising strategies to suit different geographical and sociological differences is a good indication of why it has become a hugely successful global brand.
Often, local marketing is not about reaching customers in their locale, but rather, bringing them to the brand through community building. The US Sports Network, Bally Sports, was interested in finding a better strategy to understand and engage its local fan base through the use of third-party data, but very quickly this became extremely costly. Instead, Bally turned to its online customer community, FanZone. This inclusive online community became the place where Bally’s diverse fans could get together with other fans, share their thoughts and experience a feeling of belonging.
Using its FanZone community, Bally Sports enhanced and improved its ability to connect with regional fans in new and unique ways. It obtained on-demand feedback from customers, enabling them to gain a deeper understanding of its audience’s preferences and doubling its fan community through targeted live on-air promotion efforts.
Use Social Media for Local Marketing
Most brands today have a social media presence, but for local marketing, social media is a necessity rather than an option. The benefits of social media for local marketing include:
- Geo-Targeting: Many social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, offer geo-targeting features for advertising. This enables businesses to target users in a particular location or radius specifically.
- Local Engagement: Social media enables local businesses to engage directly with their community. Businesses can foster a sense of community and build local loyalty by sharing local news, participating in local events or spotlighting community members.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Social media can be cost-effective compared to traditional advertising channels like TV or print. Businesses can start with a small budget and scale up based on results.
- Real-Time Feedback: Local businesses can receive immediate feedback from their community. This can be invaluable for understanding the needs and preferences of local customers.
- Word-of-Mouth Amplification: Satisfied customers can easily share their experiences and recommendations, resulting in word-of-mouth marketing.
- Versatility: Social media provides a platform for various content types, from videos to images to stories, enabling businesses to be creative and diverse in their messaging.
Aside from advertising on social media and regularly contributing appropriate content, many brands use the community aspects of social media to engage with and attract customers. Ashley Mason, marketing consultant and founder of Dash of Social, a social media management consultancy, told CMSWire that she built the client base for her business through the use of Facebook groups.
“For me, as a Massachusetts resident, I started joining several Boston-based Facebook groups revolving around entrepreneurship, business, etc. in 2016,” said Mason. “Because many members in these groups were often business owners looking to hire social media managers or marketers for their companies, I was able to use these communities to my advantage to establish thought leadership, build trust, gather leads, and grow my business.”
Mason attributes much of her revenue to Facebook groups and wrote about her success on Instagram. “Approximately $630,000 of my total business revenue came from Facebook groups, either by working with people who were in the same Facebook groups as me, or getting referred to other businesses by people I met in those Facebook groups.”
Optimize SEO for “Near Me” Local Searches
Consumers today often search for local businesses by using the phrase “near me.” In fact, a 2022 Statista survey revealed that 82% of US consumers who used their smartphone to shop had used near me searches.
Local businesses trying to increase their online presence and show up more often in near me searches should create a Google Business Profile. It’s free, and once a business has been verified, it will appear in near me search results. The name, address and phone number displayed on a brand’s Google Business Profile should match what is displayed on the brand’s website and any promotional material.
A 2023 BroadbandSearch report indicated that 54.4% of web traffic was conducted on mobile devices (compared to 0.7% in 2009). Additionally, a recent Hubspot report revealed that local searches are what lead 50% of mobile users to visit stores within 24 hours. Brands today should create their website with a mobile-first strategy, optimizing for mobile devices as a priority, rather than optimizing for desktop displays.
Amy Jennette, senior director of brand marketing at the popular web host GoDaddy, told CMSWire that ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is a key part of the equation. “Consumers want information on the go, so double check that your site has mobile-friendly text, menus, forms, and buttons that make it simple for your audience to browse site information on the go.”
Jennette said that businesses should localize their website to make the content relevant to their target community. “For example, if I was the owner of an electric bicycle shop in my hometown of Seattle, I may rephrase the terms on my website’s homepage to say, ‘bringing our community the greenest bikes for a greener Seattle’ rather than simply putting ‘electric bike shop.’ And this moves beyond just your website —localizing your marketing should be applied across your digital and print ads, social media pages, and other public marketing materials,” said Jennette, who added that these simple tweaks could make a major difference for your audience as they research online local businesses that best fit their needs.
Leverage Traditional and Non-Traditional Advertising
Local marketing often relies on more traditional methods of obtaining the eyes and ears of customers and leads, such as TV and radio advertising, having a visible presence at local events, word-of-mouth, billboards and collaborations with other local businesses. “Whenever possible, join in on local industry-specific events, fairs and festivals, and neighborhood gatherings to boost your brand awareness, show off your locality, and further press the importance of supporting small, local businesses,” said Jennette. “In no time you’ll be the local authority in your industry, and you’ll have the local marketing tools in your toolbelt to thank for it.”
Other brands are using local marketing strategies that include digital displays located in areas where potential customers will see them. Geoff Crain, senior director of sales and marketing at Kingstar Media, a digital marketing and video production agency, told CMSWire that his business uses digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising for local marketing due to its ability to target local audiences precisely, deliver contextually relevant content and allow real-time updates. “By strategically placing digital displays in specific locations, we have the ability to reach specific and local communities effectively,” said Crain.
“DOOH also allows for dynamic and tailored messaging, incorporating local references and promotions to establish a deeper connection with the local community.” Crain explained that the real-time capabilities of DOOH enable businesses to adapt campaigns quickly, providing timely and accurate information to their desired local audience, enhancing engagement, and driving positive business outcomes in specific local markets.
Traditional marketing and advertising mediums can still be effective strategies for local businesses. Although many may not recognize radio’s reach today, a recent Statista report indicated that radio is one of the most powerful mediums in the United States, with a weekly reach of around 82.5% among adults, and 78% of those under 18. “Radio is another form of media we utilize for local marketing due to its ability to reach a wide and diverse audience within a specific geographical area,” said Crain. “With radio, we can effectively target local audiences, delivering our advertising messages directly to potential customers in their communities.”
Mobility is another benefit of radio advertising. “Radio also offers the advantage of being a mobile medium, reaching consumers in their cars, homes, or workplaces, allowing our clients to stay memorable and top-of-mind throughout the day,” said Crain. “Radio also allows for the creation of engaging and memorable audio content, leveraging the power of storytelling, music, and personalities to connect with the local audience on an emotional level, making it an impactful and cost-effective medium for local marketing.”
Final Thoughts on Local Marketing
Local marketing provides brands with the unique opportunity to intimately connect with their surrounding community, addressing its distinct tastes, cultures and preferences. By using a blend of traditional and digital strategies, from SEO and mobile optimization and social media engagement to radio advertising and participation in community events, businesses can effectively bolster their local presence.
Feature Image Credit: TensorSpark on Adobe Stock Photo