In the current digital era, technology gives us the ability to get customers from around the world. While this is great for corporate giants who are expanding their already large reach, what about your small business? How do you get more local customers when you’re competing against big companies with a global presence? Small local businesses have a significant advantage due to the fact that they are, in fact, local. As a local business owner, you can leverage your connection to the community, the people in it, and the physical proximity to customers in order to target your marketing efforts more effectively.
Why are Local Customers Important?
In order for small businesses to thrive, you need local customers. For small businesses whose products are purchased in-store or whose services are rendered locally, it is especially important to have a local physical presence.
Without local customers, a locally-based business will not be able to succeed. The stronger your brand and more recognized your business name is in your local community, the more sustainable your growth will be.
Find Where Your Local Customers Spend Their Time
The first and arguably most important step of attracting more customers is finding the people who will be most interested in your products or services. These people make up your target market, or the group of people who are the best match for your business.
You know your business and your community well. Where do the people who will be your best customers live, work, play, or otherwise spend their time? Use this knowledge to reach these people where they already are. Here are some places you may be able to reach local customers in person.
Attend Local Events
Attending local events can help you get customers in the community. In many towns and cities across the country, community events are happening weekly. If your business is located in a metropolitan area, there are often craft and trade shows going on near you, too. Sign up for events you think your target audience will attend, and promote your business at these functions to the attendees. Local events draw local crowds, which can help your business gain more customers in the area. Be friendly, offer incentives for interacting with you and your business, and meet as many potential customers as you can! For more information about making a great impression at these events, check out how to run a successful booth at a craft or trade show.
Host Local Events
Don’t wait for an event to happen; create one! A small and simple gathering at your location or hosted by your business can go a long way in the community. These events don’t always have to be directly related to your products or services either. Simply providing an opportunity for people to gather, meet, learn, and eat is a way of adding value and showing the community that you care about them. If you are struggling to come up with ideas or themes, take advantage of holidays and locally relevant events. Even if you get a low turnout, meeting new people and connecting with your community can help you learn a thing or two about the area. You might even learn a few ways to improve your services.
Create a Facebook Event
With more than 1.65 billion active users, it’s no surprise that Facebook can be a great tool for attracting more local customers. Whenever you have an event, create a Facebook event for it and send out invitations. Hosting an event and making a Facebook event for it will increase your event’s and business’s visibility and will help get more people interested in attending. For more information on using Facebook for your event, check out how to promote your event on Facebook.
Posting in Facebook Groups
Another way to use Facebook to get local customers is with Facebook Groups. Search Facebook for local groups including business networking groups, industry related groups, or even parent or yard sale groups! Joining groups that your target market is in and posting your content in them makes group members more likely to engage with your business.
The most traditional form of marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, still brings in customers to this day. Spreading word throughout the community about your business, your products, and your services can get people more engaged and talking about your business. Be friendly and encourage customers to share their experiences with your business in hopes of getting their social circles interested in your business as well.
Flyers aren’t just for yard sales and finding your missing pet—they are another quick and easy local marketing strategy that can help attract more local customers. Print out as many copies as you think you’ll need and hand them out in an area with a lot of potential customers. Local supermarkets, festivals, and sporting arenas are good locations for getting your local community to learn more about your business.
Reviews from previous customers can help you get more local customers. Both good and bad reviews can spread quickly through the community, so try your best to make sure your current customers are satisfied with your business. If they aren’t, ask them why and maybe even offer them an incentive to come back and give your business another chance. Many people check customer reviews before purchasing, which means that you should do everything in your power to get positive reviews online.
With Facebook’s ad platform, you can specifically target customers based on their geographic location. Facebook’s technology is now so advanced that you can target specific customers based on the street they live on. This means that you can ensure that your Facebook ads are actually being shown to customers in the area. To learn more about Facebook advertisements, check out how to use Facebook ad targeting.
Use Location Tags on Social Media
Social media is a great way to create a buzz about your business. In order to get local customers, use a location tag when posting. A location tag puts your business on the map, making it easier for local customers to find your business on Facebook or Instagram. Click here to learn how to add a location on Instagram or Facebook.
An easy tool that you can use to attract more local customers is by using hashtags in addition to location tags on social media. When used correctly, you can engage local customers with your social media accounts and make your business more likely to be found by users browsing around. Use local hashtags for your city, state, or town. People searching and using local hashtags will be more likely to find your business this way.
In order to optimize your social media accounts for SEO, be sure to include your business’s name, website, and short description about what you do in your social media profiles. In terms of gaining local customers, adding your location on every social platform you use can help your business become even more visible to those in the area. Your location is just another keyword people can search for to put your business on the map.
Partner with Local Businesses
Another local area marketing strategy for your business is leveraging local business partnerships. When you partner with other businesses in the area, each business gets visibility from the other’s customer base, thereby doubling your reach, for free! Local business partnerships also add credibility to your business and strengthen your ties to the broader community. Partnering with local businesses gives more potential customers the opportunity to learn about your business.
Newspaper Ads and Stories
Social media is huge, but that doesn’t mean that newspapers don’t still have a place in the world. If you have a local paper that people read, try advertising in it. Better yet, save the money and do something newsworthy. Tell the local paper about an event that you’re hosting and offer to provide inside access for a story!
Charity Events and Sponsorships
One of the best ways to put your business’s name in front of an audience of parents and local community members is by putting your name on something. Donate to a charity or sponsor a local sports team or charity event in exchange for your business’s name on the t-shirts or signs. Not only will you be donating your money to a good cause, but your business will be right in front of a captive audience!
School and Community Events
Depending on your target audience, you may benefit from getting involved in school-related or community events like PTA meetings, church groups, or networking groups and events. Chances are you’re already involved in one if not more organizations, so make sure to always carry business cards on you in case someone asks about your business. While you shouldn’t be overly promotional, it’s more than okay to mention your business when it’s relevant to conversations.
Connect with Local Influencers
Do you know a blogger or local influencer in the community who people trust? Get to know that person or group of people and offer them a free service or product. Getting someone with strong local influence to try your business means that they might endorse your product to their followers.
What strategies have you used to bring more local customers to your business? Let us know in the comments below!