Tips for Local Marketing Success

There’s no doubt that most business owners would like the idea of waking up in the morning to the jingle of their national radio ad as their radio alarm breaks them from their slumber.  Or on the way to work to drive past their billboard and then arrive at their desk to be greeted by their copy of The Irish Times containing a full colour press ad promoting their brand.

The reality though is that most businesses in Ireland are SME’s, a significant proportion of which operate at a local level – your typical hardware store, crèche, restaurant, butcher or plumber.

For these businesses advertising nationally simply doesn’t make sense.  But that doesn’t stop those who don’t know better from wasting their marketing euro.  I see and hear examples every day.  The Leopardstown Inn is just one recent example.

They’ve been running a national radio campaign for months, but most of this marketing spend is quite simply being wasted targeting consumers around the country who will never ever be in the market for a pint in The Lepp Inn.  Someone in East Galway or Waterford is unlikely to head to The Lepp Inn for a pint of an evening after hearing a radio ad promoting their revolving carousel bar.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a creative ad and they’ve a nice Unique Selling Proposition.  But quite simply they should start marketing from their front door out, not on a national level.  Those most likely to drop in to The Lepp Inn are the people living (and/or working) locally with a strong offer to get people in.  This is where they should focus their marketing.  And the same principle applies for many small to medium sized businesses in Ireland today.

What I’ve put together below are simple marketing tips for your typical local business to help drive response (and sales).

Top marketing tips for local business:

1). Think clever about your profiling

For example if you’re a local landscape gardening company looking to target your area with a flyer then think clever.  It makes sense to exclude businesses, apartments and flats from your targeting and to target the affluent areas – homes with the biggest gardens.

2). Get creative

Make your communication stand out not just in terms of the message but play with other elements – colour, shape, format and even the stock you print on.  It needs to cut through the clutter, get attention and to be differentiated from other communications, particularly those of your competitors.

3). What’s your ideal catchment?

As I mentioned with The Lepp Inn example the fact is that those most likely to visit your typical local business are those that live and/or work closest to it.  People who pass by it every day.  So it often makes sense to start marketing from your front door and work out within a 1 or 2 mile radius (depending on you budget and population density in your area).

4). Friend get friend offers are a win-win-win

Make an offer to existing loyal customers by rewarding them if they introduce a new customer to your business (and build in a reward for the new customer).  Your existing customer wins, your new customer wins and your business wins too.

5). A simple ‘Thank You’

Don’t forget to thank existing loyal customers and let them know how much you genuinely appreciate their custom.  This won’t cost you a cent and could make the difference between them coming back or going to try your competitor.

6). Word of mouth beyond a simple ‘Thank You’

Go the extra mile with existing customers.  It could be something as simple as a smile, offering to carry their bag out to their car or telling them about some local activity that you think they might be interested in.  Build an emotional bond with your customers.  If they like and remember you it’s likely they’ll not only return, but that they’ll also tell other people about their positive experience and recommend you to them.

An extension of this point is to consider testimonials in your marketing communications.  If potential customers receive a communication with independent testimonials from satisfied or happy customers then they may just want to know more and check out your product or service themselves to see what they might be missing.

7). Join forces with other local business for synergy

Something that can work very effectively is when two non-competing shops in a local town get together, split the marketing costs 50/50 and run a joint promotion.  If the match is good they get the 1+1=3 effect.  So, for example, a chemist might run a promotion whereby every customer who spends over a certain figure gets a coupon for a discount in the local jeweller shop in the town.  Something as simple as this not only gets customers in to the chemist but drives footfall in to the jewellery shop too so both businesses benefit.

8). Test

The restaurant I mentioned in my third point had 6 outlets in different locations.  So what we did initially with our campaign was test it in the area around just one restaurant.  We then analysed the results and then tweaked the campaign based on feedback.  Then when we rolled it out to the other 5 restaurant locations it was even more successful.

9). Up sell and cross sell

Finally, and this is really important, always keep a close eye on your customers in terms of looking to make another sale.  Not in a pushy way but in a way that shows you understand them and have their best interest at heart.

An amusing example to finish off with is a local car dealer I did some work for in a large country town.  His dealership was servicing a seven-year-old Opel Astra.  When the customer came to collect the car the dealer noticed she was pregnant.  When congratulating her she mentioned she already had 2 children and was having twins this time.  So the following week he sent her a nice genuine personal note and a brochure offering her a trade in on her Astra and a special offer on a much bigger Opel Zafira he felt would be ideal for her family in a few months.  She subsequently bought the car and he generated over €20,000 in revenue for the dealership.  All it took to make the sale was a simple observation, a brief personal note and a 55 cent stamp!

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