4 Essentials to Marketing Your Local Business
You want your small business to be able to compete against larger brands and other local businesses in your town. But to stand out from the pack and market your business in the most effective way, you’ll need to first figure out:
- How can you create a company story that helps you stand out from competitors?
- How do you distribute that story to reach your target market?
- How do you brand yourself to the consumers in your area?
- How do you balance money and time between paid vs. organic marketing efforts?
We’ll help you answer these questions and teach you how to craft a compelling story that wins over your local market.
1. How can you create a company story that helps you stand out from competitors?
Google’s shift toward hyperlocalization has leveled the playing field, so your business has an equal chance as the bigger players to rank top in organic search results, particularly in your local market.
You just need to take the right steps to define your brand, and that starts with master storytelling!
So what’s a company story and how can you tell yours?
Company storytelling has two main components:
1. Why do you do what you do?
2. What problems do you solve?
Those two elements are the unspoken center of everything you do, because they differentiate your brand by the specific problems you solve. You can use them to create a tagline for your business’s purpose that gives audiences an emotional buy-in.
You can get a clearer perspective of the problems you solve by understanding who your end customers are and what journey they take. No matter what industry you’re in, you need to have a customer journey, or idea of the typical path your customers take before making a purchase or choosing to work with you.
This path will differ based on your industry and your buyer personas (which we'll talk about next), but will typically include the following steps:
1. Discovery: The customer discovers they have a problem. Either from an immediate need (e.g. their power goes out and they need to fix it), or through discovery (e.g. an educational video teaches them about the flaws of regular mattresses).
2. Research: The customer compares solutions. They know they need to accomplish a goal, but they aren’t sure what kind of product or company will help them best. This is where you establish yourself as a guide who can help through content specifically catered to them.
3. Decision: The customer has narrowed their research down to you, but they may still have final questions, or want a free trial or consultation.
4. Purchase: The customer signs a contract or swipes their credit card. You continue to support and promote products to them so they return.
How do you know who your target customer is?
Creating buyer personas will help you develop a buyer’s journey that’s specific to who your business serves. It’ll also help you further define your story and narrow down how you market it.
A buyer persona is a fictional profile of the kind of customer you serve, which typically includes the customer’s:
- Education level
- Job title
- Income level
- Buying motivation
- Pain points
It’s best to create buyer personas for the several different kinds of people you serve, especially if they have different ages and priorities. Knowing how to market to each of them will give you a huge leg up on your competitors once you bring these personas into your storytelling and marketing.
Buyer personas also help inform the kind of content you need to create to best reach your target audience (which we’ll talk about next).
2. How do you distribute that story to reach your target market?
Now that you have your company story, you need to start sharing it through helpful content.
Here are different kinds of content that have been proven to work best for small businesses.
Blogs are incredibly cost effective for small businesses. A healthy blog with good content can pull in 50% or more of your organic traffic. It’s how you can go after long-tail search queries when you create helpful guides or breakdowns that answer specific consumer questions. Check out our guide on how to optimize your blog content for SEO here.
Email and text promos
Your email list can be one of your most powerful channels, especially if you combine it with text. Using both together can help you collect contact information from future and current clients. Plus it can be a revenue driver across the board for almost any industry when used for promotions. Check out our guide on how to create successful text and email campaigns here.
One of the best mediums for effective storytelling is video. Social media platform algorithms tend to favor videos because people love being able to play them while doing other tasks. Check out our guide on how to optimize videos content for social media here.
So what can these blogs, promos, and videos be centered around?
When consumers go to your site they want to feel like your content is expert-level, and weaving customer social proof into that content is one way to give them that impression. So ask your current customers to give testimonials that can be highlighted in your content.
How can testimonials shape your content?
Testimonials can be included in your content as:
- Quotes in your blog posts
- ROI graphics for your email and text promos
- Recorded interview you share on social media
These testimonials will not only improve your content, they’ll also continuously shape your buyer journey and customer personas.
For example, if five of your customers are sharing the same story in your testimonials, that further informs your customer journey. They’re telling you why they came to you and the benefits you provided them.
This also shapes the story you tell future customers, which further shapes the content you create. It’s all a continuous cycle that increases the success you have marketing to your audience.
What should your distribution schedule be?
You’re only as good as your content and distribution process. So how can you best promote the content you put out?
Start by going back to your buyer personas and seeing which platforms your audience spends the most time on. The majority of your efforts should be placed on their most used platform, while every other platform should come secondary.
For example, if you’re a CRM whose target audience is decision makers at other businesses, you’re most likely going to want to spend the most time on LinkedIn.
Build your content (in length, structure, copy, etc.) to perform best on your chosen platform, and you won’t overwhelm yourself with the others.
Then focus on regularly and genuinely engaging with people on the platform as you create your posts. It’s less about how often you push out a one-way message, and more about the relationships you build with locals in your area (especially since these social platforms are becoming more and more localized).
3. How do you brand yourself to the consumers in your area?
When you’re a local business, your neighbors don’t necessarily want you pitching yourself to them all the time. So how do you sell to them without selling?
You leverage the helpful content you’ve created so far!
People are always going to be more receptive to relationship building and sharing expertise. That’s why when you create content it needs to focus on saving people money or making their life easier—and not just promoting your product. Stay 90% focused on value, and 10% focused on selling, and people will naturally be drawn to what you put out.
This method creates a snowball effect and your goal is to keep rolling. The more value you add, the more people will listen. And the more people listen, the more opportunities you have to sell. Accumulating this content will take time, but ultimately be worth it in the end.
Consumers are 131% more likely to buy after reading educational content from a business. Focus on your story and your expertise, so you can add as much value as possible to build trust!
PC: Express Writers
4. How do you balance money and time between paid vs. organic marketing efforts?
Paid advertising can be the fastest way to get visibility in a digital ecosystem when your business is first starting off.
Organic search, on the other hand, is a long-term play. It tends to take three months to get aimed in the right direction, six months to start seeing results, and 12 months to really build out a full scope local search strategy.
A lot of new businesses can’t wait that long to master that process and see results. So map-based and search-based ads can help a new business get up off the ground, because they’re immediate need style searches.
75% of paid ads and 25% organic search can be a good starting point for a business. But the long-term goal is to shift that to 50/50, then finally 75% organic.
That way you’re eventually relying on free traffic, after getting all the SEO building out of the way. Your paid ads will become focused on retargeting, rather than demand generation. The more you’re tethered to paid ads, the more unknowns you open yourself up to, because costs are continuing to increase for paid ads.
Testing throughout this process will be required, plus involve up-front money, as you create ads and adjust them depending on:
- The amount of time that’s passed
- The ROI you get on your purchases
- If you know your tracking the purchases correctly
- The type of ad it is
You can’t expect to get everything right the first time. The key is to find a happy balance between what you’re willing to lose, and make sure you’re getting enough data to make educated decisions.
How can you start increasing your online local presence today?
Understanding your target customer is critical to everything else you do, including:
- The kind of content you create
- How you get your customers involved in content
- The social channels you choose to distribute your content on
- What paid advertising channels will make you most successful
That’s why you’ll want to start by defining your customer journey and buyer personas first.
You may also want to bring on an agency that understands attribution and tracking when you start your digital advertising. If you can’t get a good handle on what is working, then you’re just guessing. And that’s no good when you need to understand where to adjust your content and ad spend.