Once upon a time, all shops and service providers were local. They were present in town, knowledgeable about their specialty, personal in their customer service.
Ahh, the good ol’ days.
Then, came big chain stores. After that, e-commerce. Now, little mobile computers in the palm of your hand. Local stores have dwindled, and now even the biggest chains are being challenged. We’re living in the age of Amazon.
But let’s think about what made that local guy “special” in the first place – because this is the very heart of today’s smart digital marketing strategy. I’ll use my neighborhood hardware store as an example.
At one point, he became an ACE Hardware franchise, but a year or two later wrestled back his independence. His store is the picture of chaos, a total mess. But it doesn’t matter because he knows where everything is and always has what I need. If I don’t know what I’m looking for, but can kinda sorta articulate my project, he’ll make suggestions and provide a ton of helpful guidance.
His little store could fit 50 times over in one of those big-box joints, yet it competes on a whole different level. He's not just surviving in dodgy economic conditions – he's thriving because he's local, knowledgeable, valuable. In today’s digital parlance, he’s “hyperlocal.”
Whether your business is a “big brand,” e-commerce or a combination of both, what can my local hardware guy teach you?
WHAT'S YOUR DEFINITION OF "LOCAL"?
If you think that running a simple geotargeted ad campaign translates as “deeply connecting” you to local consumers, you’re way off base. Sure, you may get a little bit of action, somewhere in the vicinity of 1-2%, for as long as you keep funding that campaign. But once you stop?
Think of it like staying at a rental property. Once your vacation week ends, you pack up, leave and that’s it.
Next time you run another campaign, you’ll be spending that first dollar all over again to reach many of the same people. This is inefficient and wasteful.
SO…WHAT CAN YOU DO?
No matter if yours is a brick-and-mortar model or e-commerce, act like you have “locations” in any of the places that are relevant to your business.
Here are a few examples on how to do that:
- Let’s stick with the hardware store example. Say your brick-and-mortar business is running an online ad about “spring cleanup” in some local town in New England. Offer some helpful tips and resources specific to that area. When someone clicks, they’ll find relevant content about clearing out remaining leaves, repairing damage from snow dams -- things that any local resident would be familiar with. Remember, keep the content as specific to that area as you can. This kind of “geolocal” focus demonstrates your expertise and understanding of what customers in a particular area need.
Each of these friendly “guides” should be connected to the materials, services, tools, and other items that might be needed. Then, make it easy to purchase them by highlighting the fact that they can be picked up at the store on Main St. or ordered online with just a click! This kind of contextual marketing makes it a no-brainer for customers to turn to your expertise, just like I do with my trusty hardware guy.
- An Outdoor Outfitter is a good example of an e-commerce business delivering a robust local connection.
When someone clicks on an activity like, say, fly-fishing, they find helpful information on great local spots, resources about local permits, fish stocking areas and the like. They throw in some “how to” videos and gear “checklists.” Now, the customer is getting inspired to go out fishing. And conveniently enough, all the necessary gear they need is right there to purchase. Again, we’re talking about contextual marketing, making content specific to an area, thus making it far more relevant. You can do the same.
- Non-profits also need to connect at a local level. From the beneficiary to a volunteer or a potential donor, think about delivering a truly “local" experience. Too many non-profits have become so big that they risk losing the connection to those they serve. People care deeply about the resources, events, and other information specific to their community. Your non-profit is about them, in their city or town. How can you deliver that message, from volunteer to donor to beneficiary? Think of your marketing in those terms.
Each of these examples demonstrates empathy and relevance to a particular location. They deliver service, ease of utility, and thus real value – to an audience. Your business becomes a resource to return to, again and again (unlike the temporary ad flight we mentioned that puts you back at Square One. Every. Single. Time).
Plus, you can keep expanding that local connection through fresh content, products, and recommendations. Again, think like my go-to hardware store: Be local. Valuable. Knowledgeable.
We're experts at helping large scale companies create, sustain and monetize location-based digital presences in any and every city and town, anywhere.
One example on our fast-growing client list? We implemented, currently manage and host 29,512 city and town “Location Pages” for a national organization boasting 38MM members. Those pages address the different, subtle needs of each community involved. That’s what we call effective “local reach.”
Let us show you how you can “hang your shingle” literally everywhere you need (or want) to reach. And how to deliver a robust, knowledgeable and above all, local experience that will drive ongoing engagement. Reach out to us!