Local Small Business Marketing Ideas That Benefit the Greater Good
When it comes to small business marketing, it’s easy to focus on big goals and wide audiences from national or even global markets. However, for small to mid-sized businesses, local marketing can be ideal.
Effective marketing is about storytelling and connecting: about success stories, about testimonials and real-life problems a business solves for real people. If your reach is regional or national, striking up a conversation and garnering goodwill within your local area might not grow your business exponentially, but it will give you stories to promote on your website and social media, as well as help grow the approachable personality behind your brand.
Take Corporate Social Responsibility Local
Linking up with local parades, charity events, festivals, and other local occasions is a good place to start. Sponsor the local road race or high school sports team. You’ll not only get your business’s name out there; you’ll also be helping support events and groups that can always use an extra set of hands.
The Marketing Science Institute pointed out in a report entitled “Customer Outcomes of Corporate Social Responsibility in Supplier-Customer Relationships“:
… engaging in CSR-related activities is a worthwhile endeavor for B2B firms. Carefully targeted CSR activities can raise organizational customers’ trust and identification, both of which foster customer loyalty.
If the primary goal is to increase customers’ trust, managers should focus on business practice CSR engagement. If the goal is to foster customer–company identification, managers should consider activities in the philanthropic CSR domain. B2B managers should also consider contextual factors that influence the effectiveness of CSR, for example, the prevailing level of market-related uncertainty, the strategic importance of their products to customers, and the CSR orientation of their customer base.
Network with Other Local Businesses & Organizations
Work closely with other local businesses that appeal to similar markets to yours. For instance, if you run a fitness business, pass out coupons for a free session or class to a local health food store, offering to do the same for them in return. Customers are becoming more socially minded and like the idea of a community of businesses working together for the greater good of their towns and cities.
Your social media pages should reflect a genuine interest in your community. Follow local businesses, schools, parks, and other organizations. Share information with your followers about local events even if they aren’t related to your specific business—but especially if you’ll be involved.
Host Free Events for the Public
While largely budget-dependent, hosting free courses, workshops, or other group gatherings open to the community is a great way to generate buzz about your own products and services while connecting with locals. As long as you have the space or are willing to rent some—and do the proper promotion—these events can be wildly successful.
By connecting with businesses that are similarly community-minded, you also open the door for partnerships later on, which may result in shared endeavors and co-hosted events, off-setting some of the direct cost to you. As you build your reputation as a local business, you may find people more willing to donate their time and resources as well.
And be creative! We loved some of these ideas:
- A real estate company teams up with a recycling company to offer a free recycling event at their office. Electronics would be collected, shredding services would be available, and a nonprofit would be on hand collecting clothing and small household donations.
- A signage company offers a freebie sales boot camp for small business owners and others interested in improving their business visibility and visual marketing presence. (Something tells us a few examples of their own work might’ve been used as visual aids…)
- An insurance company hosts a free workshop on cybercrime, featuring an FBI agent as a guest speaker.
- The chamber of commerce partners with a local psychologist (who just happened to write a book on stress management) to lead a workshop on better managing stress.
Build Customer Loyalty
For brick-and-mortar shops, a customer loyalty card is a no-brainer as a proven way to get people back in the door. These programs are inexpensive to produce, easy to roll out, and will give customers an added incentive to frequent your place of business. You can go the route of the traditional punch card or get fancier with mobile apps. Or check out Perkville, a great way to build a loyalty + rewards + referral program and integrate it with your POS.
An email and/or text list for loyal customers is another way to make your customers feel like VIPs. Send out information about upcoming sales, discounts, and promotions, and offer special shopping nights for your loyal members (especially useful during slow shopping months!).
For businesses that do not have a physical storefront or focus on B2B markets, a customer referral program is a great way to build brand loyalty close by while attracting new leads—from anywhere!
Shout Out How You ARE Local
Demonstrate to customers how you’re already part of the local community. These are great social media fillers, and allow you to have fun with your local reach. If you post photos to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, be sure to tag them with the local business so they can see it and maybe even reciprocate. Some ideas:
- Where did you eat lunch, or where is the gang celebrating happy hour after the big success?
- Where did the office manager get her new handbag for the upcoming charity event?
- Who is going with his/her family to the local soccer game?
- Where did the IT guy just pick up his new thumb drive?
- Which local designer helped you decorate your office?
- Did the salon next door just give your sales manager a ravishing new look?
Always be thinking of ways to show the world WHO YOU ARE as a business, not just that you happen to be in business. By thinking local yet sharing it globally, you can do just that.
Looking for more great ideas? Contact us for a strategy session!
Photo Credit: River Museum.