For local businesses, the community is a critical component of their success. Retailers and restaurants understand this implicitly, of course, and even those businesses focused more on the wider world still have a considerable attachment to the place or places in which they operate. That said, let’s talk about a few ways to promote your business in your community.
Strive to get local press
For some reason, the idea of pitching your business happenings to the local press feels intimidating, but the truth is, local blogs, newspapers, online publications are always on the hunt for fresh content.
Reach out to your local news sources and see if you can contribute an article—whether it’s a thought leadership piece, a list of resources, or a newsworthy update about your business. If your business’s story is compelling enough, you might even be able to get someone else to publish a featured write-up.
You can also ask to write about an event you are hosting in your community, or invite a local writer to attend for free in exchange for a recap.
If you have a little more budget, you may even consider a public relations partner, firm, or app to get your stories published in multiple media sources. If your budget is a little bit lower, you can publish your own press releases through companies like www.prweb.com. These press releases may get picked up by some media outlets and they can also help your search engine optimization by providing links back to your website.
Partnering with non-competitive businesses that serve the same clientele can be a great way to promote your business in your local network. Once you have established a relationship, you can cross-promote each other’s services through your email lists and in-store flyers or coupons, or by engaging them through social media. Don’t be afraid to get creative to maximize the promotional value of the partnership.
Network network network
Attending local networking events is a great way to increase your presence in your community. This works better for some types of businesses than others. If you provide services directly to other small businesses or consumers, then local networking is going to be far more rewarding than if you sell products online, for example. However, every kind of networking helps, even if it’s just to share ideas and inspiration with other business owners.
Whether online or offline, inexpensive marketing techniques like these can get your business humming with the energy from new customers and clients.
And if you do partake in networking (I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, but you should), do not miss out on my nine networking email templates, like the one below:
Attend, host, or sponsor local events
Even in a world that is increasingly digital, attending, hosting, or sponsoring events in your community is a great way to promote your business while strengthening your connection with local customers.
You could run a class at your location, offer to teach a class at a school, library, or other local establishment, or even just host a fun seasonal and/or family-oriented event. Leverage the time you put into creating and teaching the class by having a friend take video of you teaching, then put that video on your website and on YouTube.
Try out direct mail
Despite the dominance of digital media today, sending postcards, flyers, letters, or other types of mail can still be a very effective way to promote your business to nearby customers. One of the biggest challenges with this promotional method is that you can’t exactly target your mailings, so you’ll need to print out and send a high volume of mail in order to get a response. The benefit is that if you get it right, promoting your business through the mail can help you get new customers with a very repeatable process.
You could also send your loyal customers little gift packages during the holidays to keep them coming back and (most likely) promoting your business to their friends and family.
Advertise locally and offline
Newspapers, magazines, radio, and even television are some other traditional places for paying to promote your business. If you are considering promoting your business through print ads or any of these offline strategies, the key is to make sure you are tracking everything so that you can know the effectiveness.
Attend trade shows
If you are targeting a national audience and you want to sell your products to retailers, going to a big trade show might make sense. If you are unsure of how beneficial the trade show will be for you, and you have some time to figure it out, you might consider just attending as a visitor before investing the money in your own booth. If you have a good relationship with a company already planning on exhibiting at a trade show, they may let you “hang out” in their booth for a portion of time, where you can observe and learn, and maybe even promote your business free of charge.
Run email marketing campaigns
Email marketing has been around for ages, but the strategy has by no means become less effective over time. In fact, 77% of people prefer to get permission-based promotional messages via email versus other modes of communication. Email is a popular channel for consumers and businesses alike:
- People like to stay informed.
- People constantly check their email.
- Email offers detailed reporting.
- You can segment your lists for targeted, personalized emails.
- Email marketing generates a 30x average return on investment.
- Email marketing platforms offer flexibility, creativity, and most importantly, ease of use.
Make advocates out of your employees
Good leadership and proper treatment of your employees will naturally turn them into advocates for your business. Hold brainstorm sessions, encourage employee blog post contributions, host fireside chats, get them involved in local events, run family and friend promotions—value them and they will value the business they work for. You can then encourage social media sharing and equip them with news and tools to effortlessly spread the word about your business.