The Foolproof Formula to Promoting Your Business Locally
To become a thriving local business, you must achieve two things; gain initial recognition, and then maintain your reputation as you continue to grow. Whether it’s a gym, a restaurant, or a hair salon, the general formula is the same for all businesses. Use the following steps for the ultimate strategy to find the right customers and grow your business locally.
There’s a lot that you can do to advertise your business that won’t cost a dime.
Set up listings in search engine local directories
This is one of the most important things that a local business can do online. Your business needs to be ‘searchable’, with your information easy to locate. The easiest way to do this is to make sure that you have set up listings on as many local directories as possible. Google My Business, for example, is an excellent way of increasing your presence online. Fill out each of these listings in as much detail as possible. Add photos, videos and whatever else you feel is relevant and will give people a good idea of what your business is all about. The more information you provide, the higher your business will rank, and the higher your chances are that the right customers will find you.
Don’t ignore social media
No, it’s not just for the bigger businesses. These days, social media is expected to be a part of every business marketing strategy - big or small. Be aware that a considerable amount of potential customers will check you out on social media sites, even before a general Google search. Certain social media sites will appeal to your business more than others. You don’t need to be on all of them. Just do a bit of research as to where your potential customers are, and go there!
Once you’re up and running, don’t just sell and promote your goods or services on these channels. Very few people are going to find this type of content interesting or worthwhile. Instead, focus on creating valuable and meaningful content which will be of interest to your audience, and will attract more similar people to your business.
Some social platforms can act as a hub for your business with the use of E-commerce integrations. One such example is Instagram's product tagging feature, in which businesses can tag their photos with direct links to buy products featured in their feeds.
Start building connections
With such emphasis placed on the digital side of marketing, many of us forget about the more traditional forms of promotion, which are highly effective. Attending local networking events and actually meeting other people within the business is still highly valuable. You can build connections, look for opportunities to collaborate or audience share, as well as getting an idea of the general competition within the area.
Not sure where you might find such networks and groups? Check out BNI Ireland, a website which specialises in helping to bring local businesses together, with numerous groups and meetings all over the country.
Reviews, reviews, reviews
Think about it: what's the first thing you do when you’re checking out a product or service? You check the business’ reviews, as does pretty much everyone else. A huge amount of potential customers will go straight to the review sections of websites. Therefore, it should be a priority of all businesses to make sure you’re getting as many positive reviews as possible. Your level of customer service becomes an important factor here. Ensuring that your customer service is at an exceptional level in a great way to get more reviews for your business. Of course, don’t be afraid to actually ask customers to leave a review if you have noticed that they had a positive experience with your business!
Offering some sort of incentive is one way to encourage more reviews for your business. This ‘reward’ could be anything from a discount on their next purchase, to an entry into your monthly/annual giveaway. When you consider the fact that it takes time and effort to write up a review, it makes sense to offer some sort of reward to the customer.
For an extra push (and a couple euro)
Use promotional or retail space to grow awareness for your business
Booking some vacant retail space in a local shopping centre will get you right in front of all the locals in a high footfall space. What better way to earn the trust of potential customers than to get out there and meet them in person? Get 2 banners and a bulk of flyers and spend a day having face to face conversations with people in the area. Allow consumers to sample your wares, services or expertise. A gym owner, for example, could rent out a space for a day, and bring in a couple of exercise machines for people to come in and try them out, chat with professional trainers, and take a flyer on their way out.
We're all well aware by now that social media is essential for the promotion of any business, but to invest in paid advertisements online is an excellent way to get your business name further out there. Facebook’s advertising feature allows you to target individuals based on their locations, meaning you can place an ad for your business right on front of local customers with just a few clicks.
Run a contest on Facebook
Another surefire way of promoting your business is by hosting a competition on Facebook. We’ve all seen them… “like, share and comment to win this prize!”. All your business is required to do is provide the competition prize (which could easily be your own products or service). Competitions prove most valuable in their overall exposure of your business. Every time a user shares this competition post, it will land on the timeline of a number of people in their friends list (many who would be likely to also be interested in your business), and the cycle will go on and on. A Facebook competition has the potential to expose your product or service to a huge number of new customers and increase overall awareness of your business.