Go Local : Marketing at a Local Level

Startup businesses sometimes rush to advertise in the wrong places.
They see glamour in certain vehicles, such as general interest
magazines or cable TV, only to find that their costly ads don’t really
bring customers in the door.

Today’s emphasis needs to be on local marketing
- reaching individual communities with specialized messages. The bygone
era of mass marketing, populated mostly by big companies that could
afford that kind of thing, is being replaced by what marketing mavens
are calling “mass personalization.”

The latest
trend is to bring marketing down to the neighborhood level and make it
personal to the customer. Tom Feltenstein, a top local marketing
proponent, advocates targeting your marketing efforts to specific
neighborhoods, “making sure your message is delivered only to people
most likely to be your customers — those within 10 miles or 10 minutes
of your door.”

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Feltenstein, who works with many
corporate giants on their marketing efforts, says that it’s all about
thinking small and keeping your marketing local. He encourages stores,
restaurants and other types of businesses to look no further -
literally – than their own back yards for customers.

Local marketing keys: community involvement

This neighborhood-first mantra suggests a heavy dose of community
involvement in your local marketing efforts. For example, here are
three community-related marketing strategies:

  1. Good grades equal good customers: contact local school principals to
    offer incentives of free products or services to students who achieve
    high grades. When someone brings in a good report card to your
    business, give him or her the reward.
  2. Surveys
    equal more customers: regularly check the pulse of your customers with
    an attitude profile survey. You’ll collect useful data, learn what they
    like and dislike, and demonstrate your concern for their opinions, all
    at the same time.
  3. Complaints are your best
    friend: nine out of ten unhappy customers never complain — at least not
    to you. Instead, they don’t come back and then they go tell their
    friends. Your business needs to invite criticism so you can address the
    problem and turn it around.

Some other uncommon wisdom on marketing locally

  • Tap the potential of your greatest profit opportunity within your
    trading area – the customer base that is right in your back yard.
    Businesses, schools, churches, community events and even fellow
    retailers become your promotional allies in building cost-effective
    programs to capture consumer dollars right within your reach.
  • Local
    marketing is face-time marketing. Look for ways to convey your
    marketing message to potential customers one-on-one. You can go first
    to your employees, then from your employees to your guests, and finally
    from your guests to their families, friends, neighbors and co-workers.
    This brand of face-time marketing is intimate and personal, as opposed
    to slick and impersonal mass media advertising. Even big chains are
    latching onto this concept by encouraging individual stores to think
    small and locally in their individual marketing plans.
  • Contrary
    to some of the old “rules” of advertising, the local marketing approach
    eschews institutional “exposure” advertising. “Every local marketing
    program should pay its way,” says Feltenstein. “A marketing approach is
    either profitable or unprofitable based on results. If your current
    marketing is not measurably profitable on a per-project basis, kill
    it.” Move on to the next tactic, go for sales, skip branding.

To help generate more sales, treat your customers as authorities and
unpaid local marketing consultants. Ask their advice and opinions of
your operation, such as how you might improve it to better meet their
needs. Don’t be afraid to reveal inside information, such as marketing
ideas or recipes. The more they understand your business, the more they
will respect what you are trying to do. Look for ways to show you are
aware of them as individuals, not just customers.

Our Bottom Line

If you have limitless funds to throw at mass marketing advertising to
build a name for your business, by all means go ahead. But if you want
to laser-target your efforts to the best prospects in the most
efficient results-oriented manner, try putting the neighborhood, local
marketing concept to work for your startup business. Think small, think
locally and capture the customer cash that is the easiest to reach.

© 2005 BizBest Media Corp.

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
StartupNation Writer
StartupNation Writer

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