One of the biggest challenges for small business owners is getting your name out there amongst your potential customers. If your customers are likely to be local to you, there are plenty of ways you can let people know you’re there, using local events, networking, initiatives and groups to get ahead of the game. Here are nine of the best ways to promote a local business successfully.
1. Have a local promotional strategy
First, have a strategy. Know who you want to reach, where they live, where they purchase, what they do in their spare time. This is standard marketing strategy, and it really works for locally-focused campaigns. It’s your ideal opportunity to get right in front of the people you want to connect with and sell to.
2. Update and optimize your website
If you already have a website, make sure it’s up-to-date and reflects what you do – particularly if it needs a local flavour. If you don’t have a website, now’s the time to build one. Get your branding right, use it consistently and build a mobile-friendly, responsive, clean site that uses plenty of good images and gives people the opportunity to sign up to newsletters, workshops or for special deals.
Then optimise it. This means using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques to help your site rank in search engine results. You’ll need to do some research into what your ideal customers are searching for, and use those keywords in particular areas on your site to create useful content that search engines will recognise. This can be a time-consuming job, so it might be worth considering using a virtual SEO assistant to help or a specialist to work on your SEO strategy.
3. Make use of free online tools
Whilst Google is often the search engine of choice, you should also look at the opportunities available to increase your presence on all relevant search engines. Both Google and Bing, for example, offer free local business listing tools that can help your business to be promoted in the search results without you having to pay a penny. Look for other free local directories where you can list your business.
4. Invest in paid online advertising
Paid advertising can put you ahead of the game and is worth considering if you are in a particularly competitive market, or are focused on just one or two elements of your business. You can advertise through search engine ads – like those that appear on Google or Bing – or on other sites where you think your audience might be, such as local media outlets. If you’re paying for advertising, you’ll want to see a return on your investment, so make sure you have a good offer, a well-written ad and a dedicated page on your website for the advert to point to. That way, you’re more likely to convert visitors to buyers.
5. Consider social media advertising
Your audience is almost certainly on one social media site or another. Today, all the mainstream sites host advertising, so you just need to know which sites are most relevant to your business and set a budget and strategy. You might want some help here, as the initial set-up can be time-consuming. It might be a good idea to pay for virtual assistant time on an hourly basis, meaning you only pay for the time you use – but giving you access to someone who understands social media advertising and can set up and run everything for you.
6. Make time for networking
Local networking is how many businesses raise their profile, build valuable relationships and win new business. Every area will have a wide range of networking opportunities, from national groups like Business Networking International (BNI) to locally-focused groups and Chambers of Commerce. The Institute of Directors holds regional events, and the Federation of Small Businesses does the same. Look for networking groups where members are your target audience, and where you can commit to attend regularly so that you can build those valuable relationships.
7. Enter business awards
Local business awards raise your profile and are excellent opportunities to network. Look for the different types of awards in your area and see where you could enter – there will be general awards and sector-specific awards such as Digital, Food & Drink, Tourism and more. A well-crafted award entry could get you to the shortlist, and you will then attend a winner’s dinner along with all the other businesses which have got that far. In most cases, you’ll be able to add the awards logo to your website, and of course, make the most of things on social media and in traditional PR if you win. Award entries are one of the various virtual assistant tasks that can be outsourced to help you make the best case for your business.
8. Ask for reviews and testimonials
Third party reviews and testimonials are really powerful – most of us now book holiday destinations, restaurants and attractions based on what others have said about them on review sites. Your existing customers will usually be happy to give you a testimonial if you ask, so talk to some of your best customers and ask them to write something for you. You can use these on your website, across social media or in your networking presentations to give your business added credibility.
9. Get involved in your community
People buy from people, and that’s especially relevant to your local customer base. If people can see that you are genuinely interested in your local community and willing to give your time, money or services to it, you’ll get a great deal of goodwill, which can translate into business. Join a business club at one of your local charities, give prizes to local schools and events, sponsor tourism events, concerts or other arts organisations – all of this will help to raise your profile and demonstrate your commitment to the local area.
These are just some of the ways to promote a local business – small, micro or start-up. You’ll find there’s a great business community on your door that’s willing to help and support you. If you put in the effort to raise your local profile, you might be surprised at the business you get in return.
If you would like to learn how our sales and marketing support services can help with promoting your business or would like to hear about our other virtual employee services feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or click here to request a free consultation.