If you have a small business with a retail outlet, you may have become overly focused on selling online to the masses and missing customers nearby.
This is perfectly understandable as during the pandemic, such thinking might have saved your business from going under, but now life is relatively back to normal, you could choose to look at a best-of-both-worlds solution.
This will involve concentrating on the people within walking distance of where you are or just a short journey away. You could also target those traveling nearby as part of their daily commute. This might seem challenging, but putting a plan in place and getting the right experts involved will make it possible.
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First, could you understand your local market?
You might think you have a reasonable grip on what the people around you want from your product or service, but there is no harm in backing that with good, solid data. To achieve this, you need to do market research by crunching your numbers or gathering more information to know precisely how to meet the specific demands of the people on your doorstep.
This might provide one or two unwelcome but eye-opening surprises, but this will highlight some of your most significant opportunities to increase your turnover and profits.
Crucially, make the most of local SEO
If you already have a website, you probably have a rough grasp of what SEO entails, but that is only on a global scale. Local SEO is a more specialized art, so it would be better to take the advice of experts rather than make your ham-fisted attempt.
Getting the right company involved to help with your business online presence local SEO search engine indexing social media management website monitoring has many benefits. They can list your company in up to 100 business directories and GPS networks to boost your visibility and discoverability across search engines, maps, mobile apps, aggregators sites, and social media. This, however, can be just the tip of the iceberg.
- It can provide you with greater visibility for local online searches. Whenever people in your area search for a product or service like yours, you are likelier to turn up in their quest using local SEO. This can be facilitated with the correct search engine indexing, making your site far more accessible to find.
- It will also increase foot traffic – people will already walk past your outlet daily. But that can be boosted further by adding those willing to make a short extra trip or detour to shop locally once they know who and where you are. After all, there are likely businesses in your area that you would happily use if you just learned about their existence.
- Sales will increase; additional online and physical traffic will mean more people will buy from you. Apart from the initial benefits of higher turnover and profit, you can also take this opportunity to turn them into a long-term customer. This can be done by giving them plenty of extra information about their purchase in face-to-face encounters or even brokering a discounted price if they buy from you regularly.
- Improve brand reputation – having all of this information about your business readily to hand will boost your reputation as a business that takes local trade seriously. For this reason, some of your online content can involve more about what happens behind the scenes so that people see human beings instead of just a product.
- It can be cheaper – local SEO can be very cost-effective because you are concentrating your efforts in a small area, which is likely to give you the biggest ROI. This means that a pound spent here could get you far better returns than a scattergun approach targeting people who are never likely to make a long trip to your outlet.
As you can see, seeking professional help to align your website with local SEO practices could be a real game changer. Once this is all set up, it continues, as SEO is an ongoing process, so finding a company that can offer website monitoring can help you keep on top of this in the months and years to come.
Next, host local events and create local partnerships.
Once you get this critical box ticked, you need to think about cementing your position as a visible and active community member. This could involve having event days to celebrate the anniversary of your store opening or to feature a new product or service you are offering. This will likely include talking to people as they pass by outside or even having an additional stall on the pavement if local regulations allow.
Consider forming partnerships with companies that offer products or services complementary to your own to give local people the best deal possible. You could provide a discount for anyone who also uses a partnered local business, and they could do the same for you so that you both benefit. This can help you to find new customers among the tiny percentage of people who need to use the internet more confidently or regularly.
Also, could you get involved in community projects?
Of course, there will be more to your local area than just shops and those in your community that need help. Apart from the apparent boon of helping those in the size you have so heavily invested in, there are also commercial advantages. Having your business name closely linked with a local charity or initiative will boost your profile and mean that those who approve of your efforts might switch to you instead of their current provider.
You could sponsor events or take a more active role in fundraising, like having a donations bucket on your counter for people's spare change. You could also donate part of the proceedings of the previously discussed event days, giving more significant publicity to those events. This should show your determination that the well-being of everyone in the area is one of your priorities.
Don't forget to extend this message to social media
Social media is necessary for any local business as it allows them to connect with current and potential customers regularly and cheaply. Your local SEO company can also provide valuable guidance with social media management, so you should take advantage of this if available.
Regardless of your decision, you will need to look over your social media output and make sure that you concentrate on the right platforms. While Facebook might have (at least) the most people using it, it might not be the right fit for your audience if they are a younger demographic. On the other hand, TikTok is growing daily, but if your service is aimed at more senior members of the community, your efforts will be well-spent.
Please make sure that your content is balanced correctly.
Of course, you will want to use social media to sell to people in the local area, but you shouldn't make this the entire focus of your output. Could you read any promotional posts that give your followers the inside story on what you do and how you do it? As a local business, they are more likely to take an interest in this, especially if the people and events that you talk about are ones that they are already familiar with. You can also use this opportunity to explain your position on critical issues like diversity and sustainability since those whose ideals align with yours are more likely to use you than a competitor who shares different values.
Leverage local celebrities, personalities, and influencers.
In the same way, you can use more conventional social media influencers to give your business a helping hand. You can do the same locally, but this works online and offline. For instance, if a high-profile player at your local football club uses your services, then the chances are their fans will follow suit. The effectiveness will be doubled if they discuss it on social media. Your area also, no doubt, has people who record weekly podcasts about the site and the issues that people face. Being involved as a sponsor or just being interviewed on one of these will raise your local profile, and in conjunction with your support for other local events, as discussed earlier, this can only positively affect your bottom line.
Making the most of customers on your doorstep takes more than just sticking an ‘A' board out on the streets or advertising in those local free directory-type affairs that often end up in people's recycling bins. After you know the specific requirements of your local customers, you'll need to use local SEO to make sure people know about you and what you can do for them; this can be augmented by using local community projects and hosting events to promote your business to those interested in your higher online business profile.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does understanding the local market benefit my business?
Understanding your local market allows you to tailor your products and services to meet your community's specific needs and preferences, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
What is the significance of local SEO for a small business?
Local SEO increases your visibility in local search results, making it easier for nearby customers to find and choose your business, thereby driving more foot traffic and sales.
Can hosting local events impact my business?
Yes, hosting local events helps build direct connections with your community, increases brand awareness, and allows you to showcase your products and services in a more personal setting.
Why should I consider forming partnerships with other local businesses?
Partnerships with other local businesses can lead to shared marketing efforts, expanded customer bases, and mutual growth, strengthening your presence in the community.
How can social media benefit my local business?
Social media lets you connect with your local audience in real-time, build brand awareness, engage with customers, and effectively promote your products and services.
Is local SEO different from general SEO?
Yes, local SEO focuses specifically on optimizing your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches, which is different from the broader focus of general SEO.
What are some practical ways to understand my local market?
Conducting market research, analyzing customer data, and engaging with the community are effective ways to gain insights into your local market.
How often should I host local events for my business?
The frequency of hosting events depends on your business goals, resources, and the nature of your community, but regular events can help maintain engagement and visibility.
What are the benefits of collaborating with local influencers?
Collaborating with local influencers can increase your brand's reach and credibility and appeal to a broader local audience.
How do I choose the right social media platforms for my local business?
Choose platforms where your target audience is most active and aligns with your business's style and marketing goals.
Do you think local SEO can improve my in-store foot traffic?
Yes, local SEO can significantly improve in-store foot traffic by making your business more visible and accessible to nearby customers searching online.
What types of local events are most effective for small businesses?
Events that resonate with your community's interests, such as product launches, anniversaries, or local celebrations, are effective for small businesses.
How do I measure the success of my local marketing efforts?
Measure success through increased foot traffic, sales, customer engagement, and feedback from the community.
What are the critical elements of a thriving local partnership?
Mutual benefits, shared goals, clear communication, and complementary services or products are critical elements of a thriving local partnership.
How can I effectively promote my local events?
Promote your local events through social media, local media outlets, partnerships, and in-store promotions to reach a wider audience.
What are some challenges of local SEO, and how can I overcome them?
Challenges include staying updated with SEO trends and local search algorithms. Overcome these by seeking professional help or continuously educating yourself on SEO best practices.
How can I make sure that my social media content resonates with my local audience?
Understand your audience's interests and preferences, and create relevant, engaging content that reflects your local community.
What are the benefits of sponsoring local community projects?
Sponsoring local projects enhances your business's reputation, strengthens community ties, and can attract customers who support your community involvement.
How can I make my local business stand out online?
You can optimize your website for local SEO, engage actively on social media, and ensure your online listings are accurate and comprehensive.
How do I balance promotional and engaging content on social media?
Maintain a mix of promotional content, behind-the-scenes stories, customer highlights, and community-focused posts to keep your audience engaged and interested.