For thousands of years, human civilization has been built around local commerce. There was pretty much only one way to buy or barter for the things you need: face to face among your immediate community.
We now live in a digital age, and we can buy anything we want from anywhere in the world, without leaving home.
Yet, it seems that nothing beats the local store.
In 2022, 72% of people who searched online for a local product or service ended up visiting a store within five miles. Although e-commerce shopping is on the rise, it has stayed at a consistent level throughout 2020 and 2021, making up just a fifth of total retail sales in the US.
Local in-store shopping still rules, even now.
That’s why local businesses should never skimp on their local advertising strategy.
But before we look at 5 ways to enhance local advertising, let’s take a look at what it is.
What is Local Advertising?
Local advertising is a marketing strategy that targets audiences close to your business location. It involves delivering messages that are specifically relevant to the local market to attract nearby customers. Examples of local advertising include a flyer drop in surrounding neighborhoods, a social media ad targeted to the local radius, partnerships with other local businesses, or hosting a public event for the local population.
When you advertise locally, you engage with your surrounding community, getting to know their needs. They, in turn, get to know your business, talk about it with their friends, help spread the word, and expand your market presence.
Why Advertise Locally?
If you are old enough to know what the “Yellow Pages” were, then you know that Google is the Yellow Pages of our time.
Yes, 90% of consumers are using Google to search for local businesses. Unfortunately, many of them won’t be found. In 2020, a third of small businesses in the US were only just planning to build their first website.
The most basic answer to the question “Why advertise locally?” is that you want your local business to be visible. You want to generate foot traffic (and online traffic to your website), and you want customers to convert and purchase, engage in word-of-mouth marketing, and help bring more customers and more sales.
There are several ways that a solid local advertising strategy does this. Here are some of the benefits your small business will enjoy if you invest in local advertising:
Benefits of local advertising
- It creates a community: Local advertising gives your business visibility among your best target audience and enables you to forge relationships with them on common ground. This can help create a community around your brand, giving more opportunities to engage with customers and strengthen your profile and presence locally.
- It reaches new customers: There are always new customers to be found in the surrounding areas, as people move in, or as word of mouth spreads. With local advertising, you can reach potential customers in your area who don’t yet know about or patronize your business.
- Creates collaboration opportunities: Advertising locally is also an opportunity to build relationships with other local businesses. As we’ll see below, this strategy can prove helpful by joining efforts for future promotions and events.
- It is cost-effective: Many local advertising methods are inexpensive. For instance, directory sites, such as Google my Business and Bing Places for Business, are free. Plus, by advertising locally to a focused and high potential audience, you can get the most from your advertising budget.
- It helps retain existing customers: Local advertising keeps your message at top of mind for your existing customer base. By advertising about special offers, events, participating in local initiatives, or launching email campaigns to locals, you can entice customers to visit your store or otherwise engage with your business again and again.
How to Do Local Advertising
There are multiple strategies you can use to boost your local advertising. Here are our top picks and tips on how to do them right.
Cross-collaboration with other local companies
Combining efforts with another business that complements yours can draw more interest to both brands. Collaborative marketing can be anything from co-hosting an event to simply a joint social media post. The main benefit of cross-collaboration for marketing and advertising is that you get exposure among a different untapped audience who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer. This is great for driving new leads and sales.
How to do it right: Team up with companies that share similar values and mindset, even if they are in different industries.
Build an SMS list
SMS advertising can be a great way to reach potential customers, as long as you follow the golden rule: no spamming! Just on-point, high value messages that help build a strong impression of your business.
First, you need to build a list of customers who are interested in receiving your messages. Think of creative ways to entice people to get on your list, such as offering discounts, giveaways, or a small gift in exchange for signing up. The next step is to be careful with your messaging. Too many messages, or messages that are spammy or irrelevant, will only annoy your subscribers.
How to do it right: Only send messages that provide value to your customers, whether it be an exclusive discount, an invitation to an interesting local event, or something else with a clear and engaging enticement.
Targeting according to location is one of the keys to successful local advertising. Especially for mobile advertising, the potential audience is vast. After all, 85% of people in the US own a smartphone.
Consumers spend a large amount of time on their phones and use them to find local businesses while they are on the go. Targeting ads according to location or specific neighborhoods can quickly drive more traffic to your business and boost your profile.
How to do it right: Focus on the location when defining your targeting settings for digital advertising campaigns, such as social media and native ad campaigns. Each platform has different tactics and rules. Do your research.
Sponsor a local event
Local event sponsorships can be a great way for your brand to get more recognition in surrounding communities. Examples include sponsoring sports events, art shows, business expos, and music festivals.
You can also host smaller events, supporting local talent or influencers. For example, an evening lecture and refreshments featuring a local customer who has the requisite knowledge about a topic of interest to your target audience can be a great way to cultivate relationships at a grassroots level.
How to do it right: Only choose events that align with your company values. For maximum impact, mix traditional advertising methods like press mentions and radio spots with social media advertising.
Host workshops/ get-togethers
Workshops and meetups can be an effective way to increase awareness of your brand. For instance, a yarn company hosting a knitting workshop can increase the loyalty of its previous customers and gain many others by teaching them a skill.
How to do it right: Talk to your customers and find out what they are interested in. Try to dig a bit deeper so you can create a unique workshop or meetup that will attract attendees and make for a memorable event.
Social media groups
There is great value in creating a social media community. While it is easier said than done, you should put in the effort. Communities create engagement. Every time your Instagram followers like and comment, they grow your social media presence and attract more potential customers to your profiles.
How to do it right: Although a social media group is virtual, make sure to focus on the local aspect. Use the group to discuss local issues and promote events that are close to home.
Local Digital Advertising Channels
While building face to face relationships is critical, local businesses should also leverage digital channels to connect with local audiences. After all, local customers spend a lot of their time online, just like consumers everywhere.
Here are some channels you can use to implement your local advertising strategies.
Social media marketing is a must for local businesses. It’s important to be a part of the conversations happening online around your niche and community. Your potential customers are on social media looking for products and services like yours, so there’s where you should be too.
It’s important to focus on the right social channels, and this will depend on your audience. TikTok and Instagram are both musts for Gen Z customers, while LinkedIn is the network of choice for B2B audiences.
There’s another side to the social media story. An Outbrain-Savanta study found that consumers are tiring from social media, and that native advertising on the open web is an effective advertising option to capture the attention of consumers outside of the social media networks.
Native ads blend into the look and feel of the website where they appear, so they are less disruptive to the viewer. What’s more, trust is really important for building customer relationships, and the study showed that customers trust content and recommendations in editorial settings more than user-generated content on social media.
Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising
Out-of-Home advertising includes all the advertising you see out and about town. This includes billboards, shop window displays, and posters. For local businesses, OOH is important to capture the audience’s attention and communicate the brand message, right where the customers are.
There are many digital OOH advertising methods available, such as digital billboards. Another example is bus stop screens, which can be programmed to display the ads at peak times and help drive consumer interest.
For local businesses, a loyalty program is a great way to show customers that you appreciate their business and encourage them to come back. Although companies typically use loyalty programs for customer retention, there is no reason not to sign up a customer from their very first walk in the door. Plus, with some extra creativity and a sense of fun, loyalty programs are a great way to create buzz around your business and get people talking about your brand.
A newsletter can be an effective and affordable way to keep customers connected and up to date with your brand. With the right online tools, you can craft and send a digital newsletter to your email list, at very little cost. If you offer online purchasing or phone purchases, include a link or direct call button to make it easy for readers to buy directly from the newsletter.
Local Advertising Examples
For many small and medium businesses whose target audience is local, creating exciting, engaging local advertising campaigns is the bread and butter of their overall marketing strategy. Here are some inspiring examples of local advertising done well:
Qupi Cafe, Edinburgh – Giveaway competition
Qupi Cafe is a Greek coffee shop and restaurant in Edinburgh, which runs regular giveaway campaigns to boost engagement and attract local customers. The campaigns are featured on their Instagram page, and participants are asked to follow, like, and share the post to be in the running to win a free delicious treat, such as the yummy banana cake. By running the competition monthly, the cafe builds anticipation and expectation, which is great for creating a continual buzz around the local business.
Unique Notions, Florida – Host a workshop
Unique Notions is a local arts & crafts shop in High Springs, Florida, dedicated to promoting local artisans. They run hands-on workshops about different craft techniques, such as the popular Macrame Workshop. This is also an example of local businesses collaborating together – the successful event was jointly hosted by Unique Notions and Apple & Tree Art, the macrame specialist duo.
Leicester College – OOH
Here is a wonderfully creative example of Out-of-Home advertising. Leicester College in the UK promoted its open day on footpaths in high-traffic areas using the clean advertising technique, also known as reverse graffiti. The technique is applied on a dirty pavement using a stencil and a high pressure hose to ‘clean’ away the dirt, leaving behind an impression of the ad. Over time, it will fade, making it a unique and eco-friendly way to grab attention on city or suburban streets.
Local Advertising – Reach Out to Your Neighbors
Are you ready to start marketing locally? Local advertising helps you expand your target audience, boost your exposure, and strengthen your brand where your key clientele resides – in your local community. Start applying these local advertising strategies to grow your business even today.