There are many definitions but exactly what is local marketing? Does it deliver return on investment and, if so, what is the best way to implement a local marketing process?
At its basic level local marketing is about targeting a very specific group of prospects and allocating all resources to securing new customers from that group at the expense of all others. Obviously, the targeted prospects should be those who are most likely to become customers. In the case of many small and micro businesses that group is likely to reside in the area immediately surrounding the business.
Defining The Local Customer Base
Target customers are those who are likely to search for a local provider of product or services online with a location based search term (e.g. Family law solicitor in Leeds). In September 2012 43% of all Google searches were location based. What is more, various studies show that prospects using a location based search term have a higher chance of converting (becoming a customer) than the rest. Local marketing is all about capturing those prospects.
Like any marketing process the key elements to address are segmentation, communication and message. It is essential to precisely define the target customer, their profile, where they are located and their typical buying behaviour. With this information in place it is then possible to define the best way to reach those potential customers (be it online or offline) and the message to be delivered.
Local Marketing Process
The marketing process to secure more local customers cannot be build and forget but instead should continue on an ongoing basis. The world of online marketing has changed dramatically in the past 18 months with pull marketing of more importance.
That said, there are elements of online marketing that will work for larger firms but not small local businesses and visa versa. Local marketing is a specific disciple using a sub set of the marketing techniques that may be used by larger businesses.
Fortunately, the online marketing odds are now stacked in favour of businesses trying to source more local customers. Products (often free) like Google My business pages are specifically designed to meet the needs of local businesses. Self build website packages to build locally optimised websites are improving all the time and social media has a strong local element.
Local marketing then is all about capturing those customers specifically interested in suppliers of products or services in their immediate vicinity. It is about ensuring the business is found online if a prospect uses a location based search term. Finally, it is about building credibility and delivering the business message to the target local prospect base on an ongoing basis (online and offline). The tools are there but surprisingly, given the size of the opportunity, many businesses are failing to use them effectively.