Most small, local businesses operate on a shoestring budget, and such a tight financial situation doesn’t leave enough resources for marketing.
And yet, recent reports have shown that almost 25% of locally owned businesses close due to low sales or cash flow, which brings us to the point that you still need to find a way to spread the word about your establishment and attract new customers.
But, thanks to the latest technologies and a variety of traditional promotional methods, there are lots of affordable options available for promoting your local mom and pop store.
1. Offer Discounts
Wait, aren’t we talking about finding a way to earn you more money?
Exactly, and believe it or not, occasional discounts can bring you a lot of foot traffic.
People are price-sensitive, and they’re more likely to make a purchase when they see that you offer your products at a lower price.
If you think that you can’t afford to slash your prices, you can use a little trick – increase your base prices and discount them.
This may seem like a ridiculous and illogical idea, but psychologically speaking, it’s an extremely powerful tactic.
No matter how much something costs, customers will pull out their credit card if they’re under the impression that they’re getting a good deal.
2. Boost Your Social Media Presence
This is a no-brainer, and still, only 48% of SMBs use social media platforms.
Most of your customers are on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and these channels are an excellent way of reaching out to them.
Running your own local business is a hectic activity which leaves a little time for social media, but it’s essential to make sure that you post updates, announce discounts, and share useful content with your audience every day.
Pick a channel that your prospective customers prefer and focus on it. There’s no need to spread yourself too thin and try to maintain several channels.
Use social management tools such as Buffer or EveryPost to schedule your posts in advance.
3. Optimize for Local Search
72% of people who performed a local search visited a store within a 5-mile radius.
So, by optimizing your online presence, you’ll improve your local SEO rankings, and your business will appear in relevant searches, which will result in more foot traffic and higher sales.
One of the most important steps for doing your local SEO properly is getting listed on Google My Business. Provide as much information as possible, and include a couple of photos as well as customer reviews.
That’s how you’ll ensure that your establishment will pop up on Google Maps and in search results.
Another good idea is to target local-specific and long tail keywords. It’s true that the latter practice will bring you less traffic than using exact match keywords, but you can be sure that it’s qualified and purchase-ready.
Finally, don’t forget to list your business in local directories – both online and offline, as well as in your local Chamber of Commerce.
Make sure that your N(ame)A(ddress)P(hone number) is consistent across the internet, so spend some time checking and updating your old listings, as this little detail has a significant impact on your local rankings.
4. Create a Referral Program
Word of mouth can do wonders for your small business, so don’t hesitate to incentivize your happy, loyal customers to put in a good word for you with their friends and family.
This is an excellent strategy as it’s used for both customer acquisition and retention.
84% of consumers trust WOM recommendations the most, which is why rewarding customers for referring you is a great investment. But don’t forget that you have to incentivize both parties if you want your efforts to succeed.
Some of the most effective rewards are store credits, free products and services, discounts on the next order, or surprise boxes.
Even some of the most popular brands and household names, such as Booking.com, Payoneer, or Airbnb still use referrals as their regular marketing strategy.
5. Host a Local Event
Who doesn’t love a good party?
This reasoning brings us to the next effective promotional tactic that has the potential to improve the visibility of your business tremendously.
You don’t need any special occasion to host a local event and invite your target audience, media, and influencers.
A new product or service, re-opening, a big sale, or a charity event always call for a big party.
Apart from gaining brand exposure, such an event can help you:
- Increase sales, as a lot of people will stop by your store in order to take advantage of the sale, get some freebies, or simply see what you’re offering.
- Interact with your existing and prospective customers, connect with them in person and get direct feedback. This way you’ll also humanize your brand by allowing your customers to see the people behind the business.
- Generate social media buzz. You can start building excitement by posting before, during, and after the event, tag people who participated, and incentivize them to share posts about the event.
However, this requires a lot of planning and hard work, which is why hiring an event planner like Kevin Rowe event planning is a must if you want your party to run smoothly.
6. Leverage Email Marketing
This old-school approach is still very effective when it comes to promoting businesses both big and small.
You can send your customers and prospects weekly newsletters and inform them about the latest arrivals, discounts, or services available.
But, make sure to always add value by providing useful tips, advice, and compelling content your audience might find interesting.
A word of warning: as GDPR came into force in May 2018, it’s of crucial importance to ask your prospects to give you permission to email them, or else you can have legal troubles.
If you want to encourage them to subscribe, resort to incentives.
7. Improve Customer Service
Last but not least, this advice is one of the pillars of successful local business management.
If you want to attract and keep your customers, you need to deliver the best possible service and be consistent.
That’s the way to garner a lot of positive reviews on the internet and social media platforms, as well as recommendations in real life.
People are willing to pay for high-quality service, and they will reward your efforts with their loyalty.
If you aren’t sure what to tweak and fine-tune, conduct surveys regularly and check out what your customers say on social media about your company.
Every business heavily depends on the influx of new prospects, and these seven strategies can help you easily win over new customers without breaking the bank.