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On Marketing: How to make local marketing work

by JOSH GORDON Published: August 3, 2016 3:19 PM

I love what I do for a living.
Part of my job-joy comes from the range of marketing and communications challenges I encounter. While I enjoy global brands and projects, I also enjoy the unique challenges of local, grassroots marketing efforts.
Let’s take some time today to unpack the challenge of local marketing at a high level.
The Challenge of Local Marketing
Part of the challenge is that it is tempting to simply copy other marketing efforts that seem to work. “Taco Bell has a great Twitter presence, let’s just get on Twitter.” Or, “Marriott has a great website, let’s just use that as a model for building our own.”
While that thinking is tempting, it doesn’t work because Taco Bell and Marriott both have massive resources and the need to scale. So, those businesses are executing on a specialized strategy unique to the needs of the business.
Just because you’re local does not mean you don’t deserve a good marketing strategy suited exclusively for your business. You just need to take the time to make one.
And that’s another huge part of the challenge faced by mid to small-size businesses that depend on their local area and region to thrive. It’s hard to find the time to think about your business.
I know it’s hard because I suffer from it, too. It’s always hard to step back to work on your business. You’re always too busy working in your business.
That’s a big reason why I take two days a year and extract myself from the day-to-day grind. My goal with these days is simple — follow a tight agenda and make three important decisions about my business.
I recommend you look for two days a year that you can use as “out of office” days. Get away with a business partner, your senior staff, or even a mentor, and do some planning for your business.
If you go for it and plan your planning day, make sure you focus at least some of your agenda on improving your marketing. Here are some local marketing ideas you can take along for consideration.
Local Marketing Ideas Worth Considering
• Community Organizations
It’s important to be visible in the right places with the right group of local influencers. Getting listed on directories and map websites is important, but so is ensuring your local chamber of commerce, community foundations and organizations, and other community-focused groups know about, and link to, your business online.
Demonstrated community-focus extends beyond some website links, too. Be active on social media sharing and supporting local organizations so it is easy to see that you and your business are an important part of the fabric of a community.
• Event Sponsorships
Once you open the box of community-focused marketing, many a non-profit will reach out asking for sponsorships. To make sure the sponsorships are a win-win for you and the organization, make sure you have a list of organizations you are committed to supporting before writing your first sponsor check. In fact, publish it on your website and social media. That helps you demonstrate your commitment to the community and its needs while also enabling you to be focused with how you spend your money. It’s wise to make investments in local groups that make sense with the mission of your business.
• Do Local Press
Send press releases when important stuff happens in your business to every local publication and news station. The more you send relevant, interesting stuff the better relationship you will have. A relationship is important from a PR perspective because if hard times hit your business, you need to be in a position where you can get a message out and have it heard.
Of course, as you’re considering these ideas, make sure you have the assets to back them up. If you build a lot of links to your website, but your website doesn’t tell your story very well, then you need to start with the basics, first.
The main point holds, though — fight the intimidation! It is possible to be very successful in your community, you just have to start taking steps toward achieving it!
Josh Gordon is an award-winning marketing communications professional and President of Full Spectrum Marketing, a full-service advertising agency with digital roots based in Kent, Ohio and Wooster, Ohio. You can reach Josh at jgordon@fullspectrummarketing.com.


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