Local marketing is all about connecting with the right customers in your area.
Small businesses are faced with loads of different options when it comes to running marketing campaigns. The thing is, they don’t always apply to local businesses.
As a local business, you don’t need to worry about all the high-level marketing strategies to reach global customers. Instead, you need to think small and create as much impact as possible in your local area.
With the right tactics, reaching your customers is easy.
In this complete guide to local marketing, we’ll cover everything you need to know to reach the right customers and make more sales. These local marketing ideas and strategies will create a major impact for any local business.
Let’s get started!
What is Local Marketing?
Local marketing, also known as neighborhood marketing, is a strategy that targets customers within a specific radius.
Marketing a local business is very different from marketing a business with a global or national reach. Local marketing only focuses on reaching a very specific community. This applies to any brick and mortar business, or service that only serves customers within a dedicated area.
When you look for marketing advice, most of the guides you find will be focused on global marketing. This works well for businesses that have a bigger reach and can target a broader market. However, local marketing needs to be far more focused. It’s about creating a big impact in a small area, instead of trying to reach out as far as possible.
Location-based marketing ensures your business reaches the right target customers. Yes, it would be amazing if your local bakery has millions of Instagram followers, but this doesn’t mean any of these followers will actually become customers.
Instead, neighborhood marketing focuses on the small local community that your business will actually serve.
Why is Local Marketing so Important?
Your business needs customers, and local marketing will bring those customers through your door. It’s that simple.
All business owners need clear marketing strategies in place to reach their goals. When it comes to most small businesses, getting local marketing right is the first thing you need to nail down in order to make your first sale.
Most local small businesses customers come from foot traffic, word of mouth, and online local searches. Small business owners need to make sure they’ve got a good presence for each of these areas.
Because if nobody knows your business exists, you’re not going to get any customers.
For example, let’s say you own a sushi restaurant.
If I happen to be in your neighborhood, and I’m craving sushi, I’ll go to Google and search for “sushi” or “sushi near me”. The top search results with the best online reviews will be my destination.
Notice, that if you Google “sushi”, the top search results are all local businesses. This is a good example of how powerful the right local marketing tactics can be.
Local businesses are usually very competitive.
There are only so many local customers in a certain area, so local businesses need to win them over. And small communities are also very well-connected. One bad customer experience could leave an enormous effect on your local store marketing.
If your business is not focused on effective local marketing strategies, then it will quickly lose customers to the competition.
No matter what type of business or industry you’re in, getting local marketing right is essential for success if you rely on customers from a single community.
Local Marketing Rule #1: Know Your Customers
Before you start running local marketing strategies, you need to know your audience.
Local businesses need to first understand their customers, and who they will be able to attract.
Understanding your customers is important for any marketing campaign, but this is especially true when it comes to local businesses.
This is because you need to target very specific customers in your area. Your pool of available customers is much smaller than if you were target a global audience. This means you can’t miss out on anyone!
Knowing how customers find your business, and why they will choose you is essential.
While there are various approaches to take in local marketing, it all comes down to two factors.
Customers can either find your business through inbound or outbound marketing.
Inbound marketing includes things like local SEO or social media, where customers find you online. Outbound marketing includes things like being present at local events or sticking a chalkboard outside your shop, where you reach out to reel in new customers.
20 Most Effective Local Marketing Ideas for any Business
Here are 20 of the most powerful local marketing strategies that your business should be focusing on. Feel free to combine these different local marketing ideas to achieve better results.
- Focus on Local SEO
- Optimize Your Google My Business Account
- Increase Your Citations on Local Directories
- Run Social Media Contests and Giveaways
- Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
- Make Your Web Content Relevant to Your Area
- Create Location-Specific Landing Pages
- Focus on Local Paid Advertising
- Run Hyperlocal Social Media Ads
- Stick to the Right Social Media Channels
- Use Email Marketing to Build Relationships With Your Community
- Focus on Local Social Media
- Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
- Become Active in Your Community
- Get Featured on Local Roundups
- Make Use of Local Media
- Partner Up With Local Influencers
- Run a Promotion With Other Local Businesses
- Offer Local Sponsorships
- Don’t Overthink Your Marketing Tactics
1. Focus on Local SEO
One of the most important parts of any local marketing strategy is local search engine optimization (SEO).
Staying on top of the local search results is a must if your small business wants to attract as many customers as possible from Google. Just go back to that sushi example we shared earlier.
To win at local SEO, you need to target the right search terms and keywords that are locally relevant. Google Trends could be a helpful tool for this.
Understand which local search terms and keywords are popular in your area, and your niche. This is important for knowing how to optimize your website for better search results.
For example, if you’re a plumber that offers services in Vancouver, you’ll want to target “plumber Vancouver” instead of just “plumber” on your web pages. This is what your customers will be searching for.
You might also want to write a blog post on what hot water system is best for Vancouver weather or any other topic that targets a local search query.
Focus on creating quality content that’s always locally relevant. This will help you to build up your site as a local authority within your niche.
Also, make sure you add your location to your website. Be clear about your address and what areas you serve. The more localized you can make your web content, the better you will rank at local SEO.
Top Tip: Use Google Search Console to see what terms people are searching for to find your business. This can help you optimize your local SEO for better keywords.
2. Optimize Your Google My Business Account
Your Google My Business (GMB) account plays a massive role in your local search engine performance.
This is Google’s business directory. If you want to appear in local search results, then you need to have a strong Google My Business profile. It’s the first thing that shows up when people search for a local business.
The top GMB result will pretty much always attract the most customers.
A strong GMB presence will improve your visibility, but it will also help customers find your business address, reviews, phone number, website, and any other important details they need to know.
So, how do you get started?
First, create a profile here.
Then add as much relevant information as possible about your business.
Make sure that all information in your GMB profile is fully up to date. Having consistent information across your GMB profile, website, and any other online local listings is important.
Make sure that you choose the right business category, and secondary categories.
Here are the essential things that any type of local business must cover on its GMB profile:
- Business address
- Business website
- Phone number
- Email address
- Opening hours
- Photos of your business
You can then customize your GMB account with special features and attributes.
For example, restaurants can upload menus, small businesses can upload product catalogs, and hotels could list their amenities.
Make sure that your business is listed under the correct category (you can choose up to 10 categories) to access the right features to include in your profile.
Your business should also add any other relevant attributes from the general list of attributes available. This includes things like free wifi, wheelchair access, gift-wrapping services, and so on.
You can add these features by navigating to Info then Add Attribute. Here you will find a list of possible attributes that you can select from.
The more information you add to your GMB account, the better. This will give customers more reason to choose your local business.
Of course, also include your business’s physical location on Google Maps. Once your GMB profile is set up, just add your location. This will give you even more visibility online.
3. Increase Your Citations on Local Directories
A citation, also known as a NAP in digital marketing, stands for Name, Address, Phone number.
The more citations your business has online, the more authority you will earn from Google in your local area.
You can get more local listings through directories in your area. With each citation on these directories, your business information needs to be correct and up to date.
Search for these directories online through simple terms like “business directory Vancouver” and find all of the relevant business listing websites. If your business listing is not present, then contact the website and request to add your business.
If your business is listed, make sure that the business name, address, phone number, and any other details are correct and match your other listings.
This tactic is also useful for seeing where your competitors are listed.
Some of the most popular business directory sites include:
Above: Example of a city-specific local directory
4. Run Social Media Contests and Giveaways
Never underestimate the power of a social media giveaway.
This is a great opportunity for your local business to attract a wider audience and gain more interest.
You can restrict your giveaway to a geographical location, and promote it through localized ads and social media promotions. You can also advertise your giveaway in-store.
A successful giveaway will improve brand awareness, increase your social media following, engagement, and ultimately bring more customers into your store.
You could run contests that incentivize referrals, or contests that boost social proof and user-generated content. All of these are important local online marketing strategies.
With a platform, like Wishpond, local business owners get the most powerful tools for creating high-impact contests and giveaways that increase your sales.
5. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
Most of your website traffic comes from mobile devices, and most of these mobile users are more likely to get in touch with your local business if your site offers a good mobile experience.
A mobile-friendly website will make a major difference to the number of potential customers who end up choosing your business.
Imagine somebody walking through your neighborhood for the first time, looking for a cup of coffee.
They search for coffee shops on their phone and tap on your website. If your site quickly and easily shows all of the information they need, they will head straight for your doors. If they tap on your website, and the page doesn’t load properly for their screen, they will close your website and go to your competitor.
Go to your website on your phone and try to make a booking or buy a product. If you can’t do it, then your customers can’t either.
An easy solution is to just create a localized landing page and optimize this for mobile. With a landing page tool like Wishpond, you can easily create landing pages that are optimized for mobile with a single click. This will ensure your customers get a great mobile experience.
6. Make Your Web Content Relevant to Your Area
To attract a local audience, you will need to have a localized website.
Small businesses need to make sure that their websites are full of content that relates to their physical location. This can be achieved by including local terms on your website, mentioning your location, and optimizing your homepage for the right area-specific keyword.
You could use your blog to talk about local places, a local event, and community news. Mention any local awards, achievements, or events.
If you’re a gym, don’t just say “Fully equipped gym” on your homepage. Rather say “The best-equipped gym in Smallville”.
The trick to local marketing is to deeply engage with your community and be an active voice in the community.
For example, a great real estate marketing tip is to publish blog posts on life in certain neighborhoods to provide a bigger picture of the community.
7. Create Local Landing Pages for Each Location You Serve
When it comes to local marketing, most businesses don’t have enough location pages.
If your business serves various locations, create different landing pages for each location and optimize them for location-specific keywords and terms.
You should also create a landing page for each service you offer, and make sure to localize each of these location pages too.
This is a great tip for businesses like plumbers and HVAC technicians who serve multiple locations within a geographic area. You can create landing pages targeted at each suburb or zip code that you service.
This way, your location-specific landing page will show up on search engines for various local searches. This will help you to get more high-quality traffic.
8. Focus on Local Paid Advertising
Paid advertising is an excellent way to target a specific geographic area and quickly gain a lot of traffic.
You can run ads based on location, and optimize these ads with the right keywords.
When you implement local marketing strategies, Google Local Services Ads are one of the best ways to target specific customers. These ads let local service providers include all of their relevant details.
Your Google ads should focus on your direct intent keywords (“Plumber Vancouver” for example). When someone searches “plumber near me” your ad could appear on top.
By including your location in your listings, and adding location data when setting up your ads, you will be able to target a very specific reach of customers.
9. Run Hyperlocal Social Media Ads
Paid ads on social media offer some of the best opportunities to target a specific city or area. Facebook is one of the best platforms to do this.
You can run Hyperlocal, or local awareness, ads that target a condensed area. This could be limited to your dedicated ZIP code. These ads also allow you to refine your target audience for maximum ROI.
Go to your Ads Manager *on your Facebook business account, click on *Create Ad, and choose Reach People Near Your Business *or Local Awareness*. Then you add in your business address, and you will see a map outlining a radius that your advertising will reach. You can customize this radius so that it reaches your exact target audience.
This allows you to set your ads to a highly targeted location.
You can further refine who the ad reaches by selecting your audience. For example, you can choose between people who live in that location, people who travel to and within a location, or everyone in that location. Then of course you can target local consumers based on their age, interests, browsing habits, and more.
Let’s say your coffee shop runs an early bird special. If you run a hyperlocal ad promoting this special to everyone in your location, you will be able to reach the exact audience who would visit your coffee shop.
This will result in far better ROAS because your ad has been seen by potential customers only, instead of people who live far away from your coffee shop and wouldn’t be interested in your special.
It also makes it easier to customize your ad content to better match your audience and their interests.
10. Stick to the Right Social Media Channels
You’ve got so many different options when it comes to social media marketing. A lot of marketing guides will tell you to experiment with different social media platforms and run a wide range of ads for your different audience segments.
Sure, this could offer great results if done properly. However, when it comes to local marketing, keeping it simple is usually the best approach.
Choose social media channels that best match your business, and focus on these only. Start by mastering one or two channels, and then think of branching out.
For example, local restaurants do well from visual platforms like Instagram, while local B2Bs will find more success on LinkedIn. There’s no need to cover all of the available marketing channels because your audience is limited. Rather, find the channels best matched to your business and do them well.
Going viral on TikTok may be awesome, but there’s no use getting 1 million views if none of these views come from local users.
Instead, narrow down your social media channels and post content that appeals to your local audience. Always include your location in these posts, and try to use any relevant local hashtags.
11. Use Email Marketing to Build Relationships With Your Community
Local marketing relies on building strong relationships with your community. Email marketing is a great way for locally based businesses to stay in touch with customers and keep them updated.
Email is a perfect marketing strategy for local businesses because it allows you to offer potential and existing customers valuable promotions, insider information, and content to keep them interested in your business.
Use your email marketing software to send out regular newsletters, coupons, promotions, and more.
Besides just sending emails about your business, you can also use email marketing to share relevant community news and stories. This will help to build up your local appeal.
Email marketing also lets you engage with your audience and reveal your business’s personality, which is important for developing relationships with your local market.
Check out Wishpond’s Email Marketing tool that allows any small business to easily send customized and personalized email campaigns to the right people.
12. Focus on Local Social Media Content
Social media platforms give you global reach, but you can also use them to effectively connect with locals. To do this, you will need to make your social media profile very location-specific.
Some best practices include setting a location on your profile, tagging your location in your post, using location-specific hashtags, and interacting and engaging with other local businesses.
Sharing or posting about local news and topics is always a good idea too.
We also recommend joining local community groups and promoting your business here. This offers a great opportunity to connect with your customers and find any potential pain points they might have in the community (which you can offer a solution to).
Something as simple as including your location or delivery locations in your bio can go a long way when it comes to local social media marketing.
Doing this helps social media algorithms display your profile to people users within your area.
13. Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
A good review is one of the most powerful tools to get more customers in your area.
When a potential customer is trying to find businesses online, they usually look at reviews straight away. Online reviews play an enormous role in attracting new customers and building authority and trust around your business.
Encourage your customers to leave honest reviews on sites like Tripadvisor, Google, or Facebook. If you are the best-rated restaurant on Tripadvisor in your business locations, then you will certainly attract a bigger local audience.
Simply ask customers to leave a review once they have left your business. You could do this via email marketing, offering an incentive for a review, or by simply writing “please leave a review” on their bill.
Good reviews and word of mouth marketing are priceless for local marketing results.
14. Become Active in Your Community
If you want to stand out in your location, then you’ll need to be an active part of your community.
Join local events (or host local events), reach out to local organizations, and see how you can help your community with your products or services.
Maybe you could help out a local non-profit or school by being a local sponsor. Donating products to a charity drive or spending time helping out in your community is also a great way to show that you care about your local customers.
Use your business to connect with your community and engage with people in your location.
Local marketing efforts shouldn’t just be done online – real community engagement and outreach are incredibly important. This improves local brand awareness and helps spread a positive image of your business.
If you can make a positive contribution to your community, then you’ll certainly attract more customers.
15. Get Featured on Local Roundups
There are almost certainly local roundups of businesses in your area.
For example, there could be an online article listing the 20 best seafood restaurants in Chicago. Try to find as many of these roundups as possible, and reach out to them highlighting your business.
You can hop onto search engines, look for these articles, and simply contact whoever published the list. Give them a good reason why their readers would be interested in your business.
If your business is relevant and fits into the category, then they might add you to the roundup. This helps your business build credibility, and it can improve your local SEO, because many customers might look for these roundups instead of finding your website.
16. Make Use of Local Media
Traditional forms of local media, like radio or a local newspaper, can still be excellent options for promoting a local business. Your potential customers make use of these different media forms to stay up to date with their community.
Consider posting an ad in your local paper or reaching out to a local radio station about a special launch or promotion that your business is running.
Never underestimate the power of local media.
17. Partner Up With Local Influencers
Another great way to boost brand awareness and get new customers is to connect with local influencers. There are micro-influencers within your community who would love to work with a local business like yours. They can promote your business on their social media pages to help you attract new customers.
Make sure that you choose a relevant influencer within your niche. Their following should be your target audience.
If your influencer has a highly-engaged audience, expect them to drive a whole new load of foot traffic through your business doors.
18. Run a Promotion With Other Businesses
Choose another small business in your area and run a promotion together on your social media pages. Partnering with other businesses is a great strategy because you will each be able to attract each other’s audience.
Running a mutual giveaway or promotion works well.
Choose a local business that compliments yours, but isn’t your direct competition. Each business can offer its own prize or experience and promote this through a single contest. The contest will end up attracting customers for both businesses.
For example, a restaurant could partner up with a local spa. The prize could be a massage and a meal at the restaurant. While promoting this contest, both businesses will benefit and gain cross pollinate their audiences.
Top Tip: If you choose to run a contest or giveaway to boost your local marketing, consider doing a referral contest. This will help you reach a bigger audience, and attract more customers to your giveaway.
19. Sponsor Local Events
A local marketing strategy that will help to increase visibility in your community is offering local sponsorships. There are all kinds of ways your business can do this.
This includes things like sponsoring a local conference in your industry, sponsoring a new kit for a local sports team, or putting your business name behind community events.
The goal is to make your brand more visible while showing that you are engaged in your community. Of course, if you choose to do a sponsorship for local marketing, you will need to make sure that your sponsorship is relevant to your target audience.
20. Don’t Overthink Your Marketing Tactics
Finally, when it comes to local marketing, it’s often best to just keep things simple.
You might want to save experimental ad platforms and breakthrough disruptive marketing tactics for another time. Instead, focus on understanding your community and reaching your customers where they’re present.
Never underestimate the power of a well-positioned chalkboard or handing out flyers. Something as simple as a poster in a shop window could have a dramatic effect on your local marketing if done properly.
Remember, local marketing is all about targeting an audience in a very specific and confined area. It’s also about building relationships and creating a positive image around small local businesses.
Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, focus more on refining your marketing efforts within your local community. Simple online advertising combined with a good old fashioned chalkboard can do wonders for your physical store.
4 Examples of Awesome Local Marketing Campaigns
Whether you’re a massive global brand, or a small brick and mortar store, there are all kinds of ways to keep your marketing local and achieve amazing results.
Here are a few great examples of big companies that have done location-based marketing well.
Nike – Nothing Beats a Londoner
Nike is one of the biggest brands in the world, so how are they able to connect with local communities?
This ad highlighted lesser-known areas of London that only the locals would really connect with. It’s a great example of how a huge business can run targeted marketing campaigns to connect with a specific local audience.
Airbnb is available all over the world, but they’ve been able to localize their marketing efforts for travelers in different countries and locations.
This can be seen through social media campaigns specific to each country, and by offering all kinds of local experiences. Wherever you are in the world, you will always be faced with local content when you log into Airbnb.
Foxtons – Local Area Guides
Foxtons, a local real estate business in the UK, doesn’t just use its website to advertise its listings. They have entire area guides for each area they operate.
This includes school guides, as well as listings of the best local businesses and features. Doing this helps the real estate company to connect with its local community, and stay relevant in each area that it operates. This is one of the best local marketing ideas that all kinds of businesses can copy.
KitKat – Edible Postcard
KitKat made use of the Japanese tradition of sending good luck cards for the new school year. They let Japanese customers print custom messages on their wrappers and send them via Japan post.
This helped the brand to connect directly with local customers, and engage in local traditions.
McDonalds – Local Menus
McDonalds is far from being a small business, but they’re still able to apply local marketing ideas in their different locations.
McDonalds has location-specific menus all around the world, showcasing local flavors and heritage. This is a great way for a business to connect with each individual area when it has stores in loads of different locations.
Your business needs to be well-known and active within your community. If you want to get more customers and maintain a solid growth path for your business, then you’ve got to get local marketing right. This applies to any kinds of products or services that rely on a location-specific base of customers.
The 20 local marketing ideas we’ve listed above have been proven to offer the best results for any kind of business that needs to reach local customers. Choose the tactics that best fit your business, and start to see how much of a difference they will make!
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