local promotions

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you’re looking for the best ways to reach local customers, take a cue from large national corporations and franchises with multiple locations. A new report by BIA/Kelsey for Surefire Social says such companies are increasingly using social media first for local marketing, relying on it more than traditional marketing methods such as newspaper advertising.

For example, nearly six in 10 (57.9 percent) of franchise businesses surveyed say they use Facebook for local marketing, and 32.6% use Twitter.

In addition to social media marketing, digital marketing of all kinds is becoming more popular. Some 37.9 percent of companies in the survey report they use Google sites, while 36.8 percent use email marketing.

Of course, traditional methods are still popular for local marketing channels are digital, of course. Some 43.2 percent of companies use newspapers to market their business locally and 37.9 percent use sponsorships.

How can your small business take a cue from large national corporations and franchises to reach out to the local market?

  • Get social. There are many ways to target local customers on Facebook. For example, my city has an official Facebook page where members often ask each other to recommend the best handyman, Thai restaurant, hair salon…you name it. Smart local businesspeople check out the page regularly and when someone asks about their industry, they’ll offer to contact the person for a quote or give them a special deal.
  • Get local. Today, customers go online when they’re looking for a place to eat, shop or get their cars serviced. But they’re not just on social media—they typically head to search engines first. Make sure your business is listed on local directories such as Local.com or Google+ Local. Put in as much information as you can about your business—the more detail you provide, the easier it will be for customers to decide whether to give your business a try.
  • Harness the power of online reviews. Don’t fear a negative online review—the power of positive reviews can far outweigh the risks of one or two negative comments. Get your business listed on the review sites that matter to your industry, whether that’s Yelp! or Angie’s List, and monitor your reviews daily so you can respond to both complaints and compliments.
  • Boost your SEO. When customers search for what you sell, make sure your website comes up top in their search results by constantly fine-tuning your website’s SEO. Use keywords with local flavor such as “brooklyn gastropub” to attract local customers, or get even more specific with neighborhoods as keywords. If you’re not SEO-savvy, it can be worth hiring an expert to help out–especially since you’ll be able to see whether his or her efforts are working right away.