Want greater marketing results? Aim smaller

As business owners and marketers, we often fall for the idea that more is better. We think, “If we did more, bought more, or increased our budget more, we would get better results.” But what if it’s not true? What if it was the exact opposite?

It’s 2022, and many savvy marketers and brands are realizing that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. They discover that one of the best ways to build a successful brand is to actually aim small. We’re talking about going locally with your marketing strategy.

The power of local marketing

Local marketing can seem like something as small, niche brands or startups do when they don’t have the budget to launch a full-fledged marketing strategy. But don’t judge so quickly. There’s a reason some of the world’s most successful brands are narrowing their reach and putting more emphasis on local marketing. Here are some of the direct benefits:

  • Buying behavior. Did you know that 93% of consumers typically travel 20 minutes or less for standard daily shopping? Although Amazon.com and other e-commerce sites are more popular than ever, that means most people still make the bulk of their day-to-day purchases from local businesses. So, it makes sense that you have a local marketing presence.
  • Local searches. About 33 percent of online consumers use the Internet daily to research local businesses. Another 16% of people do it several times a week. This means that almost half of all online users are actively looking for businesses in their area.
  • Trusted references. Here is an interesting data point: 83% of consumers say word of mouth recommendations and referrals from friends or family members make them more likely to purchase a product or service. Since most friends and family members are in the same local market as the consumer, this amplifies the importance of having a local business presence.
  • Commitment. If you study Facebook pages, you will find that 72% brand engagement happens on local pages. This includes comments, direct messages, and shares (all of which are high-value engagement activities). Larger, non-local pages typically receive low value engagement, like likes and views.

When you add up all of these benefits, you can clearly see the value of local marketing (especially when you compare it to your existing marketing strategy trying to reach a larger market).

5 local marketing tips and tactics

If you want to be successful with local marketing, there are several things you can do to maximize your results. Let’s explore some of these tactics:

1. Choose a defined market

Successful local marketing starts with having a well-defined target market. In other words, you need to know who your audience is.

It’s not enough to target a specific local market, like Nashville, TN. You need to clearly identify who your ideal target customers are within this market. As you build your target customer profiles, think about factors such as age range, interests, careers, political and religious affiliations, desires, frustrations, etc.

The more detailed your target audience, the more effective your local marketing efforts will be. Take the time to really flesh out these details on the front.

2. Invest in local SEO

Once you have a defined market, it’s time to turn your attention to local search engine optimization (SEO). Considering that nearly half of all online users use Google and other search engines to find local businesses, an investment in local SEO is obvious. Here are the main ingredients:

  • Technical referencing. While everyone wants to get started with keywords and content right away, the reality is that your local SEO strategy won’t go anywhere fast without a solid technical SEO foundation. This means setting up your website properly so that things like tags, titles, page structure, URLs, site speed, security, and usability are all optimized.
  • Local keywords.SEO relies heavily on keywords. If you want your pages, ads, and content to show to people who are part of your target audience, you need to prioritize the right local keywords. There are many tools you can use to perform keyword research, including these eight tools.
  • Contents. Keywords can be used in a variety of places, including PPC ads, but are most useful when integrated into your website’s content strategy. In fact, content is the gas of this whole local SEO engine. Website pages and blog posts are what Google uses to drive traffic to your site.
  • Back links. Google and other search engines view backlinks as trust signals. When they see dozens of backlinks pointing from authoritative websites to pages on your website, it tells them that your content is worth streaming. This makes link building one of the most important parts of a proactive local SEO strategy.

When you invest in local SEO, you instantly make your brand more searchable online. In other words, people are more likely to find you when they search for keywords related to your products, services, or niches.

3. Use location-based services

If you have a physical storefront or building, you can use location-based services to really increase your visibility and potentially drive foot traffic to your locations.

Popular location-based services include Foursquare, Google Places, and Facebook Places. These services are free, but they allow you to connect with people nearby.

4. Partner with other local businesses

One of the fastest ways to establish a presence in a local market is to leverage the connections, resources, and relationships that other established businesses already have. You can do this by forming partnerships (whether formal or informal).

Partnerships can take a number of different formats. Ultimately, the goal is to help other businesses. If you help other businesses by adding value to them, they will be willing to do the same for you.

The power of business partnerships was best illustrated during the pandemic shutdowns of 2020 and 2021. Companies that had rich partnerships with other businesses were able to combine and leverage resources to stay solvent. Those operating on their own small islands were much more likely to sink.

5. Attend local events

There’s no better way to connect with customers than to get in front of them and interact face-to-face. And what better option for face-to-face engagement than local events?

Attending local events allows you to meet people and build relationships. This strategy works especially well if your team includes people with outgoing personalities. Here are some local event marketing ideas:

  • Sponsor local events. Are there already local events on the calendar that you can associate your brand with in the form of sponsorship? Not only does this help you increase brand awareness in your local market, but it also serves as a goodwill factor between your business and the organization hosting the event. (Not to mention, it gives you an easy way to network with other event sponsors.)
  • Rent a booth at a local event. Sponsoring an event can be beneficial, but renting a booth at a local event (like a trade show, outdoor market, or festival) can also be beneficial. It gives you a chance to meet people, talk about your business, and potentially even make a few sales.
  • Participate in non-profit events. Each local market offers non-profit events and activities designed to benefit a specific cause, charity or group of people. There may be opportunities for you to sponsor, volunteer, or provide some of your products or services.

These are just a few ideas. Gather your team and brainstorm a few more ideas. Every market is different and there might be unique opportunities available in your city.

Grow your brand with local marketing

Local marketing is not a get-rich-quick marketing scheme that generates instant results. It takes time, patience and planning. However, if you give it a few months, you’ll end up being rewarded with higher penetration, better visibility, and ultimately a better ROI on your marketing dollars.

The only question is, are you ready to commit the resources?

Nate Nead

Nate Nead

Nate Nead is the CEO and Managing Member of Nead, LLC, a consulting firm that provides strategic consulting services across multiple disciplines including finance, marketing, and software development. For over a decade, Nate has provided strategic advice on mergers and acquisitions, capital sourcing, technology and marketing solutions for some of the best-known online brands. He and his team advise Fortune 500 and SMB clients. The team is based in Seattle, Washington; El Paso, Texas and West Palm Beach, Florida.