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How Thinking Local Can Help Build Brand Awareness and Customer Loyalty

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: May 7, 2018
Image credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Introduce your business to the community and make a positive first impression with these tips for building brand awareness.

The e-commerce business model has become ubiquitous for retailers of all shapes and sizes, and with good reason: going digital allows brands to reach customers around the world. With supply chains and online marketplaces like Amazon making it easier for online retailers to abide by international trade regulations, national customs laws and varied regional needs, there’s never been a better time for retailers to scale up. 

But if you want to lay a foundation for long-term, sustainable growth, don’t ignore the most dependable audience you have: your local community. If you hone the right strategies to appeal to this audience, you may be surprised to find that building brand awareness and customer loyalty doesn’t call for an oversized marketing budget or an aggressive advertising campaign. Instead, it can be as simple as getting involved in community life and offering customers easy ways to do business with you. Here’s how to start. 

1. Offer free next-day delivery to local customers 

While everyone appreciates fast and affordable delivery, keeping shipping costs low is of paramount concern for small business owners. So if you cater to a largely B2B clientele, consider whether free next-day delivery is feasible on a local scale. Small- and medium-sized operations should liaise with their delivery service providers to determine the possibility of offering lower shipping costs (or even free shipping) within a limited radius of the distribution site. By letting nearby consumers know that you’re prioritizing their needs, you can begin to develop a reputation as a business that has its community in mind. 

2. Provide free order pickup at warehouses 

If free next-day delivery isn’t possible on your budget, you may be able to offer customers free order pickup at your business or warehouse. While it might require a bit of extra logistical legwork and manpower to coordinate these pickups, local customers will appreciate the opportunity to bypass unnecessary shipping charges

3. Have an annual parking lot sale or customer appreciation event 

No one can resist a good sale! Let your customers know how much you appreciate their business by offering discounts and markdowns across your inventory. If you maintain a database of customer email addresses, you can periodically send out promotional emails that advertises both ongoing sales and big blowout events. When the day of the event arrives, decorate your store or warehouse with party supplies and festive decor. You can even set out some sweet treats for customers to munch on while they shop. 

4. Give back to your community 

Show your community how much your business cares by getting involved in local initiatives and volunteering opportunities. Whether you’re sponsoring the local Boys & Girls Club or supporting the efforts of a local conservation group, consider allocating a small portion of your profits to an organization that’s making a meaningful impact in your community. Giving back to neighbors in need, even in small ways, demonstrates that your business is committed to more than just your bottom line. 

5. Host an on-site contest or giveaway 

By offering in-store contests and customer giveaways, you can generate increased foot traffic and spark a bit of excitement surrounding your brand. Whether it’s something as simple as offering the chance to win a gift certificate to your store, or a more elaborate giveaway of your products or services, contests get people talking. Create some buzz around your business, and may the best entrant win!

6. Make your store a place for more than shopping 

Whatever you sell, think big: your store should go above and beyond what customers expect of the standard retail establishment. If your location has the space to support it, host talks by local influencers, authors, or leaders and invite community members into your space to learn, relax, and connect.

As a business owner, your store can and should be part of the fabric of your community. However, showing your customers that you care doesn’t have to put you in the red. These strategies can help you build brand awareness on a regional scale by thinking local — and doing it on a budget.

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