One of the biggest mistakes a business owner makes is advertising to the wrong audience. Too often we think our marketing efforts have to be big, showy campaigns with ads placed in every channel because “the more people who see the message, the better.”
Unfortunately, the advertise-to-anyone-who-will-listen approach isn’t very effective, and it won’t come anywhere near the impact you could have had by focusing on a specific group of customers within your local market.
What Is Local Advertising?
The term “Local Advertising” can refer to both the marketing strategy of targeting customers in your local market as well as the actual local ads themselves.
A local advertising strategy focuses all of your marketing efforts on reaching shoppers in your area because they are the people most likely to visit your store. After all, the ultimate goal is to sell something, right?
Promoting your business and getting in front of your local audience can take many forms, from event participation or sponsorship with a booth or other physical presence to printing an ad on local grocery store receipts and playbills, or even targeted digital (online) advertising. All of these methods can help you get in front of your audience and build a greater presence within the community so customers feel more comfortable engaging with you directly.
Getting Started with Local Advertising
While it may seem daunting at first, local advertising doesn’t have to be complicated – nor overly expensive.
The first thing you should do is learn more about the local markets and people in your area. Both demographic information (race, age, and gender distributions), as well as psychographic information (lifestyles, attitudes, and beliefs), can be extremely helpful when planning your marketing efforts.
There are lots of ways to gather this data cheaply and easily. You can learn a lot about the demographics of your local market for free on U.S. government websites like The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and The U.S. Census Bureau.
Many businesses have also found success in sending out a free email survey or taking notes about what type of people visit their store over several weeks. You could also have some fun with it by hosting a raffle or competition where customers enter by answering a few survey questions.
Don’t forget to also take advantage of the data you have already gathered. Looking at your inventory to see which products sell best is a great way to make educated guesses about your customers’ hobbies and interests.
Once you know more about who lives in your local market, you can start customizing your messages to your target customers. Here are a few ideas to help you get the ball rolling:
Use a Promotion
Everyone loves a good bargain! Offer a promotion that’s only available for a limited time to spur wavering shoppers into action. There are several types of promotions you could use:
Sale-related promotions – buy one product and get one free, purchase two services and receive a coupon for a discounted third service at a later date, etc.
Cause-related promotions – for every product purchased, the business donates a portion of the sale to a local charity or service organization.
Social promotions/Giveaways – encourage customers to like, share, or follow you on social media for entries into a drawing for a grand prize.
Personalize Everything to Your Audience
Remember, the best way to stand out from the competition is to make an instant connection with customers. Since you both share a community, you already have something in common with them that many other advertisers don’t.
Find ways to build on this connection in your advertisements so customers feel like you’re speaking to them directly. Some great ways businesses do this is by sending targeted emails to their subscriber lists, referencing well-known local teams, landmarks, or events, and offering customization options in products and services.
Show you’re a local by using localized names and terms, if appropriate. For example, a string of individually named city parks located near your business might be commonly referred to as “the parks,” rather than their individual names.
Zero in on Demographics (If You Have Them)
Narrowing your marketing efforts to only focus on local markets can make a huge difference but selecting a specific demographic within that local market can help drive sales up even more.
Think about your target audience. What demographic makes up the largest percentage of that audience? Once you’ve identified that demographic, you’ll be able to customize your message to target them and their specific needs.
For example, a local coffee shop could notice that most of their afternoon customers are moms buying a quick blended coffee drink on their way to pick their kids up from school. The coffee shop could use this information to start a “Happy Hour” promotion where drinks are half off in the afternoon, encouraging more parents to stop in and do the same. This would drive up their sales and bring more customers into the store during what usually are slower hours.
Focus on Shoppers Near You
When it comes to local advertising, proximity is key. The average shopper won’t travel more than 20 minutes away from home to make a purchase, so the closer you can focus your advertising efforts, the better. Closer customers are more likely to see your storefront while commuting and visit your store in person. Be sure to consider any barriers, such as toll bridges people might not cross.
Host or Sponsor a Local Event
Hosting or sponsoring an event is a great way to increase awareness of your business and foster a positive association with your brand. Local residents who attend the event will associate the experience they had with your brand, so make sure you select an event that’s in line with your values and company mission.
Is your business big on supporting health and fitness? Host a blood drive, organize a fun run, or help sponsor a local flu shot clinic. Are you a family business fond of good old-fashioned fun? Have a block party, set up a local street fair, or partner with other businesses to start a city carnival.
Many businesses choose to sponsor a local sports team as part of their local advertising efforts. Your business could offer a discount when the local minor league baseball team wins, or even sponsor a team that’s a little closer to home like the high school football team.
How Much Does Local Advertising Cost?
Local advertising is not only more effective but could be more cost-effective and affordable since you aren’t advertising on a huge scale. Any business needs to focus on “bang for your buck” when it comes to promotion. You should also think about how complex an advertising method is.
Digital & online advertising- Balance visibility ad cost with effort and be realistic with what you can accomplish. Do you have time to set up, refine, and monitor Google or Facebook ad campaigns, or do you know someone that could do it for you? Take a look at what those keywords cost for your business category. Do you need to pay someone to create an ad for you?
Think outside the "social media and search engine box". Is there a place where you can reach your local customers online, without having to do a lot of heavy lifting yourself? For example, OfferUp local advertising has a team of dedicated account managers that offer guidance on local ad optimization, and creative services so you don’t have to pick up a pen for an effective display ad.
Event sponsorships- What kinds of events are in your area? Reach out to the local chamber of commerce, or local sports associations. Ask about sponsorship opportunities. The costs will vary according to the size of the organizations and your community. Figure out where your customers are most likely to be and prioritize them accordingly.
Print ads- A full-page ad in the newspaper will be one of the most expensive ads you can buy. Smaller, local papers will be less than bigger metro areas, but you also need to look at readership. Are your customers buying the paper? Are they reading it online instead of getting it physically delivered to their homes? How much is a grocery store receipt ad, versus an ad placed in your community theater’s next playbill?
No matter which local advertising option you choose, remember that you should always try to go to your customers rather than expecting them to come to you. The early research that helps you learn where they go, and what they read and watch will help you choose the right advertising format. The right channel increases your chances of reaching the right people, with the right message, at just the right time to persuade them to click on your ad, visit your store, and make a purchase.
If you are interested in learning more about local advertising and how it might benefit your small business, contact OfferUp Ads today. There's no risk, no upfront cost, and millions of potential customers within your reach.