The statistics are sobering: according to the US Small Business Administration, only about one-third of small businesses make it to the 10 year mark. The rest of them fail.
If you’ve just started a business and you’re trying to establish yourself in the local community, you’re probably doing everything you can to ensure your company survives—and thrives—for years to come.
Even if your company has been around for decades, you probably know your marketing tactics might be ready for a facelift. Times are changing—rapidly! Strategies that worked 20 years ago likely won’t succeed in 2020 and beyond.
In a world where shoppers no longer have to leave the house, competition at the local level is fiercer than ever before. In order for your small business to stay ahead, it needs to stand out. You can help it do so by using a few simple marketing strategies that are in tune with the customers of today.
1. Get a free listing on Google
Gone are the days of relying on word of mouth, direct mailings, or radio and newspaper ads to promote your business locally. According to a recent Local Consumer Review Survey, 97% of consumers find out about a local business on the Internet, and 73% of these consumers decide whether to put their trust in these businesses based on positive online reviews.
When you set up your free Google listing, you’ll be asked to provide your contact information, opening hours, directions, and a link to your website. Adding high-quality photos to your listing is a great way to get more eyes on your page.
2. Start a blog
According to IgniteVisibility, nearly half of all clicks go to the top three spots on Google. Blogging is one of the best ways to help your local business rise to the top of Google search results. Using relevant keywords in your posts boosts your SEO rankings, which will drive prospective customers to your website.
When you update your blog regularly, your customers and potential customers will keep coming back to your website to check up on your latest posts. A study by HubSpot found that small businesses with a blog get 55% more visitors to their website, 102% more followers on Twitter, and 126% more client leads. More web traffic, more followers, and more leads translate to more business and increased profits.
3. Run contests
Want to know a surefire way to draw attention to your local business? Run a contest on social media. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage user-generated content from your participants. For example, ask people to post photos relevant to your business to their own pages, the winner being whoever can get the most likes or shares on their photo. Then, when your business appears on the social media feeds of their friends and followers, you will get more exposure, which translates to more followers and potential customers. For that reason, social media contests are literally a win–win!
4. Offer discounts
No matter how much they want to support local businesses, most customers are price-sensitive. They like to feel they are scoring a bargain, no matter where they shop—especially in this day and age where you can get anything delivered to your door for cheap at just the click of a button. If you worry that cutting your prices will result in lost profits, you might want to consider raising your base prices and offering discounts on those.
If your local business sells online, offering discount codes on your e-commerce website will increase your chances of getting sales.
5. Give back to your community
One of the best ways to give your community a positive feeling about your local business is to show that you care about your community. According to Nationwide, 9 out of 10 customers say they would be willing to switch brands to one that supports a charity or local activity they care about. When you support local causes, your local customers will be more willing to support you.
There are countless ways you can give back to your community, but here are a few ideas to consider:
- Run a special promotion where a percentage of all sales goes to a local cause.
- Make an annual contribution to a local charity.
- Sponsor a local event.
- Donate your goods or services to a local event.
Joining a local group is another great way to show that you are invested in your community—and it keeps you feeling connected to your community too. For a small annual fee, you can join your local Chamber of Commerce, for example. Local businesses—even your direct competitors—look out for and support one another in these groups, which will increase your visibility in the local marketplace.