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2020: A Golden Age of Local Marketing

Big brand campaigns – conventional and digital – are here to stay. That’s a fact. Just look at all the hype around this year’s Super Bowl ads, major national promotions and brand activations, and large-scale social media marketing efforts.

But when people are ready to buy, they still check their phones, tablets, and laptops to find CONVENIENT and NEARBY sources to shop, eat, and be entertained. Additionally, many consumers now choose to buy online and pick-up their purchases locally.

According to Fundera, close to $10 billion would be directly returned to the U.S. economy if every family spent just $10 a month at a local business. Consider too that local businesses are not just single-unit mom-and-pop storefronts but also nearby locations of major global brands. Small businesses account for 99.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S. — 30 million in total. From the local salon and retail store to the architect, accountant, and real estate broker, SMBs are literally on every corner.

So, what does that mean for YOUR business?

Local marketing – in all its forms – is more important than ever before. Although a national brand campaign may help build consumer awareness of a product or service, when the rubber meets the road (literally), people often look to buy locally. Crafting a marketing strategy that attracts those local consumers is imperative and must include:

  • Products, services, and promotions that meet the needs of a specific community
  • An advertising mix – online and offline – that enables consumers to find a location easily and build ongoing trust and spending:
  • Localized digital and social media campaigns
  • Out-of-home advertising
  • Community-based events and philanthropic activities
  • Hyper-targeted print, radio, and TV advertising
  • Management of reviews at a local level and building customer intimacy and loyalty 24/7
  • Relevant geo-targeted advertising that doesn’t make consumers feel their privacy has been violated

We are living in an era when those results can be easily tracked and measured and spending can be immediately re-directed or leveraged based on performance. In other words, big data, including first-party (customer data) and third-party data makes local marketing easier and more reliable than ever.

The number of effective options, combined with the ability to analyze and optimize performance, means that marketers can invest in local marketing that really works harder.

Brand messaging is critical to local marketing success. Says Jim Knapp, a local business marketing consultant, “Just because your marketing will only be seen and heard locally, that doesn’t mean you can skimp on the message. That includes nailing your story. ‘How can I help you?’ ‘Why do we do what we do?’ and ‘What makes us unique or different?’ all must be answered in a distinctive way that will help your business stand out.”

  • To be an effective and efficient local marketer, you must:
    Engage with partners and media strategists who understand how to build effective local marketing programs and balance your spending between large-scale and local efforts.
  • Assess your local competitors and look for ways to differentiate. Often small businesses have a leg up on larger brands because they are focused exclusively on their local communities.
  • Build marketing content and promotions that speak directly to the needs of local shoppers/spenders.
  • If you have a multi-location brand, give your local operators enough spending and decision-making power to leverage their local markets. Share effective programs across your entire operation.
  • Do not dismiss “old school” marketing media like print and direct mail marketing, and out-of-home advertising. Effective campaigns are a perfect and balanced blend of online and offline – especially when looking to attract a consumer walking or driving down the street.

Local marketing is not only here to stay, but it’s also more sophisticated and higher impact than ever. Relevancy, engagement and most importantly, a ROAI (return on advertising investment) is increasingly higher. Experience the win of going local.

Nancy Shenker is a contributing writer and founder of theONswitch marketing.

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