You don’t always have to look far and wide for more customers, particularly if you have a physical location. As a brick and mortar business, your best bet for obtaining a steady stream of visitors and bookings is to learn how to promote your business locally. Doing so enables you to get in front of people who are in close proximity to your shop, and are thus more likely to stop by.
To that end, it’s important to invest in local business marketing and continuously come up with ways to drive neighborhood traffic to your shop.
Not sure where to start? Consider the following ideas and examples to boost your local presence.
1. Market locally with the help of nearby businesses
When it comes to local marketing, two heads (or in this case, two businesses) are better than one. What this means is you should find partnership opportunities with local companies who cater to the same target customers without being a direct competitor.
We can see this in action in the following example between Circle Nutrition Center, a health food store in Long Beach, California and B Fit Meals, a meal prep service serving the same area. The two businesses are targeting the same customers — i.e., people who want to live healthier lifestyles — and they use this to their advantage by cross-promoting each other’s business on Instagram.
They also have a partnership where B Fit customers can pick up their meals at the Circle Nutrition store. With this arrangement, B Fit can offer convenient pickup services, while helping drive traffic for Circle Nutrition in the process.
See if you can do something similar with other companies in your area. Build relationships with other local stores and then come up with mutually-beneficial arrangements.
2. Promote your business locally with Google
Today’s consumers are constantly turning to Google to find businesses in their neighborhood, which makes the search engine an amazing tool to promote your business locally. Industry data shows that 46% of all Google searches have local intent and that 75% of those searches result in offline store visits.
Clearly, Google should be an important component of any local marketing strategy, and if you’re not taking full advantage of the search engine, it’s high time to do so.
The first step to doing that is setting up your Google listing. Create a profile on Google My Business and include all the important details about your company (e.g., address, phone number, operating hours, etc.). You should also upload photos of your location to give users a glimpse of your shop.
Have a look at what The Room 806 Salon in Delaware is doing. Room 806’s Google listing is highly optimized and contains:
- A clear description of the salon and its services
- All the essential business details, including address, phone numbers, and operating hours
- Photos of the inside and outside of the salon
- Several positive reviews
Already have your Google listing in place? Take things to the next level by utilizing Reserve with Google (RwG), a feature that lets your clients schedule an appointment at your business without leaving Google Search or Maps.
Best for those that offer services (e.g., salons and spas) and classes (e.g., yoga studios and gyms), Reserve with Google takes the friction out of booking appointments online, so potential clients can schedule a service or class as efficiently as possible.
You can see RwG in action in Room 806’s Google My Business profile. You’ll notice that there’s a “See Schedule” button on its business listing, and clicking that will show the list of services that the salon offers, along with the option to book an appointment.
3. Encourage your customers to leave reviews
The vast majority of consumers read online reviews when considering a new service provider. A Genbook survey found that 93.9% of respondents read Google or Yelp reviews, while 85.2% rely on social media reviews.
Ratings and reviews play a significant role in people’s purchase decisions, so you want to get as many of them as possible. That’s why if you want to promote your business locally, you need to leverage reviews even more.
If you haven’t done so yet, encourage your clients to rate and review your business on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. This doesn’t have to be a pushy conversation. If you have a great relationship with your clients, casually mention it at the end of their appointment.
You could also consider automating the review process. Consider sending an automatic text or email inviting clients to rate and review their experience. Check out this example from Columbia Pediatrics, which sends review requests via SMS after each patient’s appointment.
4. Boost your curb appeal
An attractive storefront can attract lots of local customers, particularly if you’re situated in a high-traffic area. That’s why it’s important to keep your storefront looking good, by staying on top of maintenance (i.e., through regular cleaning, paint jobs, etc) and by investing in attention-grabbing signage and window displays.
Chrissy’s Massage Studios in Texas offers a great example of a storefront done right. In addition to having big shiny windows and clear signage at the door, they also have a couple of plants and a seating area outside the studio. These small additions brighten up Chrissy’s curbside, making it feel more welcoming.
Another way to boost your curb appeal — and promote your business locally in the process — is to add a sandwich board promoting any offers that you’re running. Mr. and Ms. Day Spa in Long Beach, for instance, has a large board outside the spa, advertising their services.
5. Get your business mentioned in local publications
Another effective move to promote your business locally? Flex your PR muscles and strive to get yourself featured in local blogs or publications. In addition to helping drive awareness for your business, this tactic can also boost your credibility, especially if you’re mentioned in a well-known media outlet.
Here are a few things you can do to get on the radar of journalists and bloggers.
Do targeted outreach
Make a list of journalists and bloggers who cover your industry. You can easily do this by looking at the editorial page of a publication or website and then finding the editor or writer who could potentially cover your industry.
One more way to find journalists is by reading relevant posts and taking note of their authors. Let’s say you own a nail salon. One thing you could do is look up articles that mention similar businesses, and then add the writers to your contacts list.
Once you have your list, reach out to the individuals on it, introduce yourself as an industry expert or potential source, and let them know that you’re happy to provide insights or quotes for any upcoming articles they may be writing.
Another approach is to pitch them a story involving your business. This tactic can be effective if you’re doing something newsworthy or timely. For instance, if you’re planning to run a Mother’s Day event, you could reach out to local media months before the event to see if they’d be willing to include your business in any of the articles they’re planning for Mother’s Day.
Use HARO or ProfNet
ProfNet and HARO (short for Help a Reporter Out) are websites that connect journalists with experts. They can be effective platforms for getting in front of writers who are looking for people to quote or interview.
Here’s how it works: You create an account on these websites to receive regular alerts from the media. These alerts come in the form of emails which list queries from journalists who need sources for their pieces.
If a particular query matches your expertise, you can then reach out to the journalist and present yourself as a source.
6. Run a giveaway to promote your business locally
When implemented correctly, giveaways can generate buzz and can help you to promote your business locally. The key to success lies in the prize that you’ll have up for grabs. Generic prizes such as cash or electronics may draw a large number of entries, but you’ll likely attract people who are only in it for the reward.
For this reason, choose to give out prizes that would appeal to specifically to your target clientele. Free services or gift cards that can only be redeemed at your store can be great options, along with products that are relevant to your offerings.
Check out this excellent example from The Brow Babe. A while back, they teamed up with other businesses on Instagram and ran a giveaway featuring goodies and gift cards from The Brow Babe and other participating businesses.
7. Always tag your location on social media — and encourage your clients to do the same
Make it a point to tag your physical location on Facebook and Instagram with every update that you post. Youssef Barber, the owner of Diamond Cuts Barber Studio, does this really well. Whenever he posts something from his shop, he tags his location so viewers can quickly see his barbershop on the map.
And don’t forget to remind your clients to do the same! Encourage them to check-in on Facebook or Yelp when they’re in your shop. And if your clients love posting photos and stories on Instagram, encourage them to tag your location and account.
8. Encourage your team members to promote themselves
Empower your staff to actively market themselves. Doing so helps your team get more clients while driving traffic to your business at the same time.
Consider The Rich Barber Studio in Sacramento, CA. All of their barbers are active on Instagram, and they do an excellent job promoting themselves — and the barber studio — in the process.
9. Attend or sponsor a local event
Identify interesting events in your neighborhood and see if you can participate as an attendee, advertiser, or sponsor. Doing so not only puts your brand out there, it can give you the opportunity to connect with your target audience face to face.
This can help cement your image as a valuable member of the community, which can lead to more business!
Check out the example below from Wisecuts Barbershop, which recently sponsored a basketball game at the local high school.
Time to ramp up your local business marketing!
No matter what type of business you run, we’re willing to bet that there’s still more you can do to promote your business locally. Whether it’s beefing up your Google listing, reaching out to local journalists, or simply being active in the community, there are numerous tactics you can try to get in front of customers in your neighborhood.