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Local marketing isn’t easy.

No kidding, right?

Marketing a local, brick-and-mortar company requires a mix of online and in-person marketing. You need to be thinking about how to connect with current and prospective customers on the web, but you can’t afford to forget about local connections and the fact that many of them happen in the real world.

If your marketing isn’t getting the job done right now, it could be because you’re not hitting the right notes with your campaigns. Maybe you feel scattered – or maybe you’re just not sure which strategies should be in your marketing mix.

We get it. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for local marketing, but there are methods that are proven to be effective. Here are five killer ways to get your local marketing on track.

#1: Use Yelp

As you probably know, Yelp is a crowd-review website where users can post reviews of local businesses. The site has become a first stop for consumers – and it’s easy to understand why. 80% of all consumers say that they trust an online review from a stranger as much as they would a recommendation from a friend.

To use Yelp, you’ll need to start by claiming your listing. Once you do that, you can update your profile. You should make sure to:

  • Verify your name, address, and telephone number
  • Add your store hours
  • Add the URL of your website
  • Post pictures of your business

Going forward, make sure to monitor your reviews and respond to customer comments and complaints as quickly and professionally as possible. Even a bad review can be a marketing opportunity!

#2: Update Your Local SEO

If it’s been a while since you updated the SEO on your website, then it’s time to revisit it. Why? Because for local businesses, SEO can spell the difference between success and failure.

Local SEO uses keywords that include local words. For example, “children’s clothing boutique” is a general keyword; “Minneapolis children’s clothing boutique” is local.

Using local keywords can help you land a spot in Google’s coveted 3-pack. This is the group of three business listings that appears at the top of each page of local search results. The companies whose listings are in the 3-pack get the lion’s share of the clicks, so you want to be there!

Other aspects of local SEO to update include:

  • Getting your company listed in local business directories
  • Standardizing your NAP (name, address, phone number) listings anywhere they appear online
  • Using local keywords in your URLs if possible
  • Adding local keywords to tags on your website

These things all help raise your profile and make it easy for local customers to find you online.

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#3: Target Your Ads to Local Customers

Marketing local companies online doesn’t stop with SEO. You can also target your ads on Facebook and Google AdWords, so they display only to local customers.

The benefit of this, of course, is that you pay for advertising based on the number of impressions your ad makes. Narrowing your audience to only local searchers means that you’ll have a better chance of getting the clicks and conversions you want.

Location targeting makes sense. The more carefully and accurately you define your audience, the more new customers you’ll be able to attract. And, you’ll also have an easier time connecting with existing customers!

Google AdWords and Facebook both offer locational targeting, and using it can make a big difference in the success of your marketing campaigns.

#4: Join a Referral Network

You expect to spend some money on marketing and advertising, but wouldn’t we all prefer to get referrals from people who know us? Referrals are free, and they’re likely to be pre-qualified, too. After all, few of us refer a friend to a business unless we know they’re interested in it!

You can look for online referral networks and local networks, as well. It’s possible that your Chamber of Commerce or a local business organization has a working referral network. Checking with online resources may be helpful, too.

Referrals can come from people in similar or related businesses. For example, the owner of a bakery might team up with a party planner to get referrals. These businesses have a lot of overlap, so referrals make sense.

If your area doesn’t have a referral network and you can’t find one online, don’t give up! Instead, start one yourself. Reach out to other businesses in your area and suggest that you might be able to help one another by making referrals.

#5: Combine Your Marketing Efforts with a Neighbor

Sometimes, marketing can be a solitary affair. You might feel that it’s a burden you have to bear on your own – but what if that weren’t the case?

One of the best ways to give your marketing efforts a boost is to pair up with one or more of your business neighbors. Here are a few suggestions:

  • You can agree to keep one another’s business cards and brochures on display in your establishment, so your customers can see them
  • You can team up to co-sponsor a local event
  • You can offer joint promotions (buy something from us, get something from them at 10% off)
  • You can offer package deals where you bundle your products together, sell them in both establishments, and share in the profits

These are just a few ideas. Pairing up with one or more local companies is a great way to increase your visibility, attract new customers, and make yourself an indispensable part of the community.

Local Marketing Is a Must…

While the world marketplace is an increasingly global one, many consumers prefer to shop close to home. They understand that buying local products and services supports the community and creates a positive climate for residents and business owners alike.

These five marketing musts can help you shepherd your company to new levels of success in the coming year.

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