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Updated Apr 10, 2024

14 Ways to Improve Your Local Marketing Strategy

Audiences in specific neighborhoods want your business to build a relationship with them. Here’s how.

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Stella Morrison, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Ownership
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While navigating the turbulent marketing seas, don’t lose sight of one of your most significant audiences: your local market. However, you may need to use some targeted strategies to reach this audience. Local marketing differs from other marketing practices as it leans heavily on building relationships within your neighborhood or a certain radius of your business.

What is local marketing?

Local marketing is a type of marketing that specifically targets customers who live within a certain distance of the company’s location. This method allows businesses to market goods and services to potential customers who live in a certain city or ZIP code. Small businesses often overlook this marketing strategy, as many of them take their marketing cues from larger conglomerates.

FYIDid you know
Local marketing targets customers and businesses within a certain radius of a company’s location. Local marketing benefits businesses, such as restaurants, salons and general stores.

There are many ways to reach out to local markets. Not every strategy will work for every company but these marketing tips can guide you.

How to improve your local marketing strategy

Many local marketing strategies involve tailoring some tried-and-true marketing tactics to bring in that local clientele. These ideas can help you start building your own successful local marketing strategy.

1. Know the audience.

The first and most important step in developing any marketing campaign is knowing who your audience is. You should not only know what group the ideal customer belongs to but also have an idea of the ideal customer’s interests and what will appeal to them. You should also find out where your audience is. For example, what social media platforms does your audience spend the most time on?

2. Target the audience.

You need to reach them now that you know who and where your audience is. Build your campaigns around the audience’s interests. Use the keywords they’ll be searching for. Make advertisements that explain how your product or service solves a problem the audience has.

3. Get involved in your community.

Find local events and participate. Volunteer for a cause in your community and wear T-shirts with your logo. Donate prizes to competitions and contests that will engage your community and make them want to return to your company.

4. Take advantage of local directories.

An easy way to drive local traffic is to ensure you appear in local search results. You can do this by listing your company on sites like Google Business and Yelp.

5. Gather and post testimonials.

People are more likely to post negative reviews than good ones, but when you find positive feedback, share it and post it on other sites. When you have positive interactions with customers, encourage those customers to write and share good reviews.

6. Use local media.

Don’t underestimate the power of local media, especially in a small town. Local newspapers, radio stations or shows can be highly effective if you want to generate more foot traffic.

7. Run local search engine marketing campaigns.

You can use software like Google Ads to create campaigns that drive online and in-store local traffic. Look into pay-per-click campaigns and other advertising options that can help you optimize your marketing spend and reach the right audience.

8. Work on your search engine optimization (SEO).

Search engine optimization, particularly organic SEO, involves creating content and ensuring you have a technically sound website to reach your customers without (or in addition to) paying for ads.

Organic SEO can be a significant investment that takes months or even years to pay off, but the benefits are immense. Your SEO strategy becomes more important as search engines like Google refine their technologies to deliver more relevant results to searchers, including local search results when people look for restaurants, salons and other services near their current location.

9. Use social media to engage the audience.

Social media can be a great way to connect with an audience in a professional but human way. Use social channels that your local target market is on to answer customer questions and have conversations with your audience.

10. Run contests or promotions.

Promotions like contests can be great tools for engaging a local audience. Be creative with your contests and offer prizes that your ideal customer would want. Offer promotions to celebrate local events or to connect with the community in other ways.

11. Establish yourself as an authority.

Become a thought leader by writing relevant content that answers customer questions pertaining to your industry. This not only helps with SEO but also gives your business credence and helps set you apart from your competitors.

12. Cross-promote with other local businesses.

When done properly, cross-promotion can be a highly effective method of marketing. As the name suggests, it is a mutually beneficial marketing method that involves two or more businesses promoting each other to their customers. This allows each company to gain more customers and boost sales overall. This method offers immediate exposure to a vast array of potential customers with minimal effort.

13. Host or sponsor local events.

Another great method of local promotion is hosting or sponsoring events. Whether you choose a seminar, dance party, banquet or any other event you feel will attract the demographic you seek, this method is often effective because you are allowing people to have a good time and/or get information.

14. Have a mobile-friendly website.

Mobile searches are one of the top ways local customers will find and view information about your business. It’s also now a key factor in SEO as more traffic comes from smartphones and other mobile devices than ever before.

If you have not yet optimized your business’s website and made it mobile-responsive, doing so could work wonders for your local marketing. Those who use mobile search are already in your area and seeking local businesses to patronize. Ensuring your website appears correctly on iPhones and other smartphones could boost your business overnight.

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Employing one or several of these local marketing strategies can help you find the best tactics that reach the most customers ― and turn them into results. These tips encompass both digital and offline efforts to reach these customers.

What is the Pareto principle and how does it connect to local marketing?

Named after economist Vilfredo Pareto, the Pareto principle states that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts. For example, just 20 percent of your marketing campaigns are responsible for 80 percent of your success or 20 percent of your customer base accounts for 80 percent of your sales.

With the Pareto principle in mind, you should track your marketing efforts and find the best strategies for engaging with your audience. Once you find the 20 percent that’s most successful, spend the majority of your efforts on these campaigns and platforms. This is especially important for smaller local businesses with little money or room to experiment.

Local marketing FAQs

What other ways can your business stand apart and attract more local patrons? Explore these frequently asked questions to identify other strategies that may work for your business.
Measuring local marketing is a multipronged approach that involves tracking both digital and in-store metrics. Collecting and analyzing data is key. The data can come from many places. For instance, in-person sales data can be pulled and analyzed from your point-of-sale systems. However, it’s important to not just rely on those, as they exclude a wide swath of customers outside the store. Digital metrics like website analytics, your digital advertising’s return on investment and information collected by your customer relationship management (CRM) software all play a role in measuring the success of your efforts. If you don’t have CRM software or are unhappy with the one you do have, check out our recommendations for top CRM software.
Local marketing can benefit any business with a location that depends heavily on foot traffic. Restaurants, hair and nail salons, pharmacies, hardware stores, ice cream shops, gift shops, record stores and many more businesses that profit off traffic from curious passersby would do well to invest in local marketing strategies that encourage these potential patrons to visit. Local marketing is also necessary for professionals who serve a local market, such as home services, real estate agents and healthcare offices.
While the term “local marketing” certainly evokes small businesses and community organizations, plenty of big or global companies develop local marketing strategies to reach more individuals in a particular region where they’d like to increase sales. These are some successful local marketing campaigns to study:
  • Airbnb: This travel company shifted from a rental platform to a provider of local travel experiences in 2014, rebranding the company to reflect these new values. To connect with individual regions and countries ― a sprawling mission, considering the size of the company ― Airbnb developed country-specific social media campaigns, distributed a print and digital magazine tailored to each region and hosted experiences for tourists led by locals.
  • Kit Kat: The word “Kit Kat” sounds like the Japanese phrase “kitto katsu,” which translates to “you will surely win,” a phrase roughly equivalent to “good luck.” Understanding the coincidence, Nestle leaned into the extra meaning the Kit Kat brand took on in Japan. The company created a campaign that allowed Japanese customers to print good-luck messages on Kit Kat bars and mail them to loved ones. By understanding what was occurring on the ground, Nestle was able to build a stronger connection with customers.
  • Nike: The global athletic apparel company has executed several successful campaigns to appeal to customers worldwide. In China, Nike launches a Chinese New Year-themed shoe annually. In London, the brand launched a campaign specifically to target young residents of the city called “Nothing Beats a Londoner,” showing different sports played throughout the city by residents wearing Nike gear. This approach helped personalize a brand that may seem too big to be personal.

Jennifer Dublino contributed to this article. 

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Stella Morrison, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Ownership
Stella Morrison is a respected small business owner with a track record of award-winning success, having founded multiple ventures and earned honors for her work. She currently runs two companies, overseeing the staff, finances and a range of other responsibilities. Morrison's expertise spans everything from web development to brand management, making her a versatile leader in the business world. Beyond her own entrepreneurial pursuits, Morrison offers consultative services to companies on various business topics. In years prior, she worked in community affairs programming and trained young broadcast journalists in radio communication. She also reported for Greater Media Newspapers and wrote a column for the Chicago Tribune's TribLocal. Today, she often partners with the American Marketing Association, contributing to the industry's growth and development.
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