There are many definitions of what is local marketing. In principle, it is obvious, it is marketing only to customers located within a defined radius of the business location.
Simple, well yes, except this definition fails to define marketing. It also fails to bring out the subtle differences between marketing (in general) and marketing at a local level. These issues we try to address below.
Marketing – A Definition
There is a lot of confusion about what is (and what is not) marketing. A common misconception is its advertising, but it’s more than that.
The definition I like best comes from Philip Kotler. It is ‘marketing is exploring, creating and delivering a solution that matches the needs of the marketplace, at a profit.’ Accurate and to the point, but not a great help to small business owners.
Let’s try to break it down into simpler terms.
1 Define what it is you offer.
2 Decide what makes your offer different (if anything).
3 Define who needs what you offer (your audience) and why.
4 Make your offer accessible to your audience.
5 Ensure your offer delivers appropriate value.
THEN make sure your target audience is aware of the above.
Local Marketing Defined
So what makes local marketing different? It’s simply a change to point 3. Your target audience is in your local area. The marketing process is modified to reach a local rather than a national audience.
The definition of local is people who live and work within a 50-mile radius of the business. Local marketing techniques are often used by local retailers, service businesses (everything from lawyers to hairdressers) and trades (plumbers, electricians, builders, installers)
Local Marketing – First Steps
If you are pre-start or in the early stages of a new business venture, we strongly suggest you need a small business strategy and plan before you go any further. In short, this plan should address points 1 – 5 above.
If you are an established business it is still worth revisiting your plan. It may give you insights into how you can generate more business. More importantly, it might highlight a way to stop competitors from stealing your business.
In reality, many established local businesses are ‘me too’ type businesses (Point1). In any town, there will be many plumbers, hairdressers and lawyers. For established businesses what makes their business stand out (point 2) is reputation. Managing reputation (the brand) is a key element of local marketing.
Points 4 and 5 should be obvious, for any business. To some businesses location is vital, for others, it’s not an issue. You need to define your offer and know your competition and price (the breakeven point).
An established business needs to be responsive. If a past customer refers a friend, then that prospect needs to know the business is real and viable. Professional Google My Business profiles and websites are important elements of the local marketing mix.
With points 1 to 5 dealt with, you can move on to promotion. Unfortunately, many new businesses jump straight in at this step and waste considerable time and money. You need to define how you will reach your audience. The promotional mix depends on the type of business and its existing reputation (if any).