Interestingly, there’s a remarkable consistency surrounding marketing spends in the UK, with firms typically committing 11.4% of their overall budget to advertising and promotions.
This applies across both B2B and B2C sectors, while this rate has remained largely unchanged during the last decade.
The amount spent on marketing will still vary from one business to another, with companies bound by their size and total revenues. This means that small and independent businesses are often forced to operate on a relatively tight budget, which in turn requires them to seek out increasingly creative and cost-effective ways of engaging local target audiences.
So, here are six of the best local marketing techniques in the modern age.
Google has always placed a considerable focus on assisting local SMEs, while providing them with actionable ways to enhance their online visibility.
The ‘Google My Business’ program offers a relevant example of this, and one that enables your venture to compete aggressively within a comprehensive set of local business listings. The program draws date from numerous sources to help Google compose its local listings, including user verified company information, user edits and third-party providers. It’s also free to claim your Google My Business page, and relatively simple to optimise your ranking.
You’ll definitely need to follow the initial verification process, as the terms of service dictate that only business-owners can claim a GMB page. Google will then send out a postcard with a PIN number to your firm’s physical location, and this must be used every time that you log-in to your account.
In terms of optimisation, you need to adhere to basic SEO rules when creating your listing. Title and meta description tags remain particularly crucial to the process of engaging customers, especially since Google increased the width of the main search results area to 600px. As a result of this, you can now describe your businesses value proposition with up to 200 characters, so you’ll need to use this wisely while ensuring that elements of your text are not cut off in search results.
Similarly, we’d recommend that you provide accurate data relating to your business hours and core products, while also ensuring that consistent visual branding is applied to your page.
Finally, don’t forget to gather positive reviews from your most valued customers/clients, as this helps to boost the reputation of your business as well as prominence in search results.
While we may live in a digital age, offline marketing is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, around 20% of UK entrepreneurs have already committed to increasing their offline marketing spend this year, as they look to drive a higher rate of assisted conversions and effectively engage customers who are increasingly resistant to online advertising in a saturated market.
Out-of-home (OOH) advertising techniques are particularly viable in the modern age, as these are typically cheaper and capable of delivering a genuinely impressive ROI for local businesses.
Take traditional billboards, for example, which enable marketers to affordably leverage strategic placements and earnest messaging to have a positive impact in the minds of targeted customers.
In statistical terms, OOH media and billboard campaigns drive an estimated 22% of all online search interactions.
Similarly, it’s estimated that the current generation of customers spend 70% of their time outside of the home, so the careful selection of targeted roadside and high street locations can enable small businesses to engage a high proportion of the local audience.
It’s also interesting to note that two-week billboard placements are available for as little as £300 in certain locations, which is a key consideration for firms adhering to a tight budget.
Given these points, and the fact that 74% of customers claim to be most engaged by advertising messages that are relevant to their location, it’s clear that the lure of OOH advertising is growing for SMEs nationwide.
If we accept that customers are increasingly engaged by marketing messages that relate to their real-time location, we must also consider the value of geographically targeted Facebook ads.
These have been a feature of the Facebook platform for years, but it has taken a while for regional SMEs to fully realise its potential. It certainly boasts a relatively simple and effective premise, enabling you to create targeted location ads that relate to your businesses specific address. Crucially, you can target potential customers based on their city, rather than using more generic metrics such as country, state or county.
There’s also the option to refine your audience in real-time, as you leverage Facebook’s advanced location targeting to optimise engagement levels (and ultimately sales conversions) at any given point in time. This means that, in addition to targeting customers who live in a specific area, you can also reach out to individuals who are travelling through the region as and when required.
While this technique is not free, it can cost as little as £0.15 per click, depending on the quality of your advert, your industry and the size of your target audience. This represents an exceptionally low-cost marketing method for SMEs, while there’s also the potential for local firms to optimise their ROI by using geographically targeted Facebook ads to promote real-time and limited period promotions in-store.
With that said, the success of your ads all really comes down to two things (audience targeting + unique value proposition).
If you don’t have something great to offer, then people won’t take you up on your ad. Try to create a sense of urgency and create a compelling offer that draws the attention of your audience.
In the quest to target local consumers, SMEs should also look to build a recognisable and positive brand image within regional communities. This can help to create a loyal and motivated audience of local consumers, which lays the commercial foundation for growth and enables companies to spend less on acquiring new customers in the future.
One of the best ways to achieve this is to enter into sponsorship agreements and partnerships with local entities. Sponsoring a local sports team offers a relevant case in point, for example, as this represents a progressive investment in the local community, while enabling you to raise brand awareness and promote your businesses visual identity.
Similarly, forging mutually-beneficial and strategic partnerships with other local firms can also help you to raise awareness across a larger audience share. In some cases, this can also reduce the cost of marketing and other business activities, as you look to exchange services with partners at different stages of your businesses journey.
This type of local marketing technique is extremely cost-effective, particularly given that it can also create further savings throughout your business. It can also be leveraged to drive positive publicity and create an invaluable sense of goodwill within the local areas, so it’s definitely worth considering by SMEs.
There’s no doubt that local SEO represents an outstanding weapon for small businesses, and there are numerous statistics that bear this out. An estimated 50% of customers who perform a local search subsequently visit a store within 24 hours, for example, with tablet and smartphone users the most likely to make such a trip.
It’s therefore imperative that you take practical steps towards boosting your businesses online presence, and you should start by encouraging customers to leave reviews that relate to your businesses core products and services.
We’d also recommend that you create a profile on an independent review site such as Trustpilot, as this helps to raise organic awareness around your brand while also reflecting it in a positive light.
Beyond this, it’s also important that you recognise the importance of leveraging creative and informative content that offers tangible value to customers. This is even more important when targeting local customers, as demographic tends to have specific needs and expectations when dealing with regional businesses or SMEs.
Local businesses should definitely focus on creating educational content to target customers, as this is an excellent way to build trust and establish your brand as a thought leaders and viable authority. It is also an approach that allows small businesses to compete more aggressively with larger firms, particularly as just 36% of modern-day consumers trust big brands to do what is right in any given scenario.
If you publish these posts as part of a series, why not repurpose the content in videos hosted through a branded YouTube channel? You can even hire low-cost workers from sites such as fiverr.com to perform voice-overs for your video content, as this helps to link individual pieces of work and promote your visual brand.
The best part is that it can be relatively cost-effective to create diverse and engaging content, while this technique also offers a clear entry point into progressive relationships with your customers.
Simple & free video editing software such as Imovie will be all you need to put a video slideshow & voiceover together which will be a great starting point for educating your audience on a topic you’re passionate about, which will help you to improve brand awareness, increase website traffic and generate more leads.
These five marketing techniques are all perfectly suited to local businesses, particularly those that are required to operate according to a tight and stringent budget.
They also prove that SMEs need not be constrained by a lack of financial resources, and creative local marketing can enable them to minimise their spend without ever compromising on the overall reach of their brand.