Locally owned businesses are the backbone of the economy. When they succeed, entire communities benefit. The challenge is getting your neighbors to bypass larger companies and do business with you instead. The way to accomplish this is by creating and executing an effective plan for promoting your local business. The following guide will help you to accomplish this both online and offline promotion techniques. Effective Online Promotion Strategies You should be prepared to localize your online marketing strategy. This will round out your overall promotion strategy and ensure that your message gets out to as wide an audience as possible. Try the following to successfully promote your business online: Optimize For Google+ Local Google+ isn’t just a social network ran by Google. The service can largely benefit your marketing as it’s could be used to improve your website visibility to people searching for their products and services on Google. After all, around 50% of customers will Google your business at least one day prior to visiting it and 1 out of 3 local searches happen right before the visit. Here are a few tips for optimizing for Google+ Local: Claim your listing. Google puts business locations on the map and in search engine results, but many owners never bother to claim the business as their own. Review information such as hours of operation and make sure it’s accurate. Encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews on Google and other sites. Encourage them to upload pictures as well. Complete your Google My Business Profile. Make sure you are in the right categories. Include a valid phone number to reach you as 70% of mobile searchers tend to call a business straight from search results. Newsjack Your Local Press Newsjacking is simply taking trending news stories and finding ways to associate your company with those stories. By doing so, you can often get the attention of local press. In fact, it can be easier than you think as they are often eager to find new story angles or to get an expert to weigh in. Keep in mind that this is by nature an opportunistic strategy. You have to be aware of what is going on in your local area, and ready to jump on the opportunity to pitch to local media the minute it arises. Keeping up with your local news outlets, local government, commerce association, and other entities on social media is a good place to start. You can also search Facebook and Twitter for local news and events. Develop a Great Local Content Strategy You will need to add to your content strategy to optimize it for local audiences. This starts with determining who your target audience is in your community, and learning about them. Where do they hang out? What are their interests? How can you meet their needs? Then, make your content relevant. You’ll also want to optimize for local search. One way to do this is to use long tail keywords that are optimized for local search. Try to incorporate your town name, local sports teams, etc, e.g. ‘licensed contractor in Manchester’ vs. simply ‘licensed contractor’. Participate in Local Facebook Groups One way to build a local audience on Facebook is to join local groups, and participate in them. There are many communities that have ‘sell anything groups’. These are groups where businesses and individuals are free to advertise products and services for sale. These are perfect for direct, promotional efforts. Other groups are based around common interests or concerns. By participating in these, you can establish thought leadership, and introduce yourself as an active member of your local community. Effective Offline Promotion Strategies Not every potential customer is active online. In addition to this, local businesses are more likely to thrive when they create a real, trustworthy presence in the community. Because of this, at least a portion of your promotion efforts must happen offline. Here are a few proven strategies to try: Partnering With Other Businesses For Cross Promotional Efforts If you can find other non competing businesses to work with, you can partner up and do some powerful things together. The key is to find local businesses that have a similar client base, but don’t offer any competing products and services. If you can find a willing partner with a complementary product, that’s even better. Here are a few examples: A local remodeling company partnering with a hometown insurance agent. A sports bar working with the local, minor league sports team. A small art gallery teaming up with a local cafe. These partnerships don’t need to be complex. Working from the examples above you could: Create an agreement between the insurance agent and remodeling company where the insurance agent lists the contractor as a recommended business. At the same time the contractor agrees to give the insurance agent advertising space on their website. The sports bar could offer game night specials with discounts for patrons showing ticket stubs from that evening’s game. The art gallery could lend unique local art pieces to the local cafe. In turn, the cafe could agree to provide artist information to customers who express an interest in purchasing a piece or simply seeing more. Sponsoring Events If you ever played little league sports as a kid, chances are your team was sponsored by a local business. Businesses did this back then as a way to advertise and to create goodwill in the community. This strategy still works today. However, today sponsorship isn’t limited to sports alone. Businesses can now sponsor robotics clubs, junior volunteer groups, academic teams, marching bands, and more. The best place to begin is contacting your local schools, churches, athletic fields, scouting organizations, etc. Sponsoring charity events is another option. Most local communities usually have at least a few things in the works at any given time. These could be charity golf tournaments, trivia nights, silent auctions, or dinners. By adding your name as a sponsor, your business gets some free advertising. You become associated with a good deed. Optimizing Your Street Signs And Other Offline Copy Never underestimate the power of foot traffic. The customer who is drawn to walk into your place of business as they are out and about could mean landing an important sale today. They could also become a lifelong customer. One of the best ways to draw customers in is with great signage. Think it’s not that important? This case study shows a shoe repair store that increased their walk in traffic by nearly fifty percent after giving their tired, old, sandwich board sign an upgrade. It may be a good idea to take a second look at your signs and other offline advertising copy. The more attractive they are, the better. Try putting these strategies into play. Before you know it, you just might see an amazing response from your local community.