Marketing your small business within your local area is a constant task. You need to stay on top of every marketing channel and every strategy — signage, content marketing, social media platforms, and more. So it's not surprising if you sometimes feel as if you're running out of ideas.
To help focus your attention, let’s take a look at 15 creative marketing ideas and see how they can help you make connections with new customers.
1. Write Guest Articles and Blogs
When you (and your business) show up on a popular blog that's right up your alley, or when you write an article for a niche website, you introduce your products and services to a whole new audience. Expand your own organization's reach by connecting with all those potential new customers reading your thoughts. Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific accepts guest blogs from BBB Accredited Businesses. Learn more by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Get Involved on Reddit
While you're establishing yourself as a subject matter expert on other websites and blogs, don't forget to establish a presence on Reddit. Your products and services can be the solution to the needs of subsets of the massive online community there — and answering redditors' questions sends them to your website in a natural way.
3. Get Yourself on Podcasts
When you give interviews on podcasts that reach out to your niche market, you establish yourself as an expert and connect with new potential customers. The good news is that there's no shelf life on podcasts, so this marketing avenue can keep paying dividends long into the future.
4. Keep Your Website Updated
When customers check out your website and see that you're still touting last products for last Christmas, they'll develop a bad impression. Even if you're a brick-and-mortar store that relies on walk-by traffic, up to 80 percent of people research a small business online before visiting, so regular updating is vital.
5. Stay Active on Social Media
Your social media presence helps remind customers about your business — in fact, 90 percent of marketers have seen increased exposure through social media. If you write a blog for your website, make sure to share it across all your social media platforms (and share links to all those other articles you're guest-writing as well as to the podcasts you're on).
6. Participate in Local Charities
You'll get to know more people who care about the same causes you do, and some of those folks will become customers. Always say yes as well when you're asked to make donations of services or gift certificates to silent auctions for local schools, churches, and other nonprofit organizations to help get your name out there.
7. Cultivate Local News Sources
Whether it's your local newspaper or your online neighborhood group, make sure you're letting your local news reporters know what you're up to. Sales, anniversaries, accomplishments — They all count as news on a slow day, and they can keep your shop in the public eye.
8. Exploit Local Directories
Sites like Foursquare, TripAdvisor, and Yelp can seem intimidating (What if you get a bad review?!) — but your prospective customers trust them, so you want to be seen there. Claim your listing, upload photos of your business and products, and pay for advertising.
9. Encourage Good Reviews
Not only are your prospective customers checking you out online, but they're looking at your reviews as they influence purchasing decisions. So boost your reviews by asking your customers for help.
10. Use Location Targeting
Google AdWords offers you the option of location targeting, which puts your ad at the top of a Google search made by anyone within a certain geographic radius (say, 1 mile). Why wouldn't you want people who are near your business to see it come up in their Google search?
11. Send Newsletters by Email
As you collect your customers' email addresses (perhaps by offering to email their receipts after purchases), you can amass a powerful marketing tool. Use your email list to send newsletters on a regular basis to inform customers of upcoming sales and new products, and invite them to special events at your shop.
12. Run Targeted Facebook Ads
You can target Facebook ads to your neighborhood, so start now to register your name and services in the minds of people in your local community. That way, when they need a carpenter — or a birthday gift — or a scoop of ice cream, they'll think of you.
13. Offer Coupons by Email
When you email a coupon, your customer doesn't have to remember to clip it and carry it in — It's there waiting on their phone. As a bonus, you can track the response your coupons get to see which emails and other marketing efforts are working best.
14. Connect with Local Influencers
Outreach to influencers in your industry can widen your marketing efforts dramatically. Offer free products in exchange for reviews, unboxing videos, or plugs, and make sure you collect all the customer contact info you receive as a result.
15. Hold and Sponsor Promotional Events
Invite your best customers to bring friends to an evening at your shop introducing new products or giving them advance access to a big sale. You can also market your business effectively by becoming a sponsor of a local festival, race, or kids' sports team.
By connecting with your own community, both in person and online, you can expand your customer base and build a positive reputation that spurs great word-of-mouth.