With all of the convenient tools and platforms available to small businesses, it’s never been easier to invest in a marketing campaign. But if you want to see a healthy return on your dollars, you need to prioritize engagement above all else.
Why Engagement Matters
Most business owners, marketers, and salespeople look at sales wrong. They assume they’re the ones doing the persuading and converting when they’re typically only indirectly responsible.
“Your best salespeople aren’t on your payroll. They aren’t down the hall. In fact, they may not even be in the same building as you,” entrepreneur Sujan Patel suggests. “It sounds crazy, but the reality is that the people best equipped to sell your product might be… the people who have already purchased your product. And your ability to turn them into effective advocates for your brand comes down to the customer engagement strategies you adopt.”
We operate in a world – a marketplace – where customers are influenced by a variety of forces. However, these same customers are giving less and less weight to blatant and biased advertisements and sales strategies. Instead, they’re assigning a value to the opinions, purchase behaviors, reviews, testimonials, and recommendations of their friends, neighbors, coworkers, and peers. They want organic information, not messaging that was canned in a conference room.
From a business perspective, the best thing you can do is prioritize engagement. In doing so, you can produce more revenue from your existing customers, while simultaneously increasing the likelihood that they’ll become advocates for your brand and give you the keys to unlock future revenue from new customers.
It’s been said that customers have both a voice and a choice. High-engagement strategies hit on both of these aspects. And if you want to maximize your return on investment, local marketing is the best avenue for pursuing customer engagement.
Local marketing gives you more bang for your buck. When you target customers in your immediate area, you have instant credibility that other brands don’t have when marketing on a national or global scale. It affords you additional trust and familiarity, which work together to form the groundwork for engaging customers on an emotional level.
4 Local Marketing Tips for Maximum Engagement
Simply pursuing local marketing doesn’t necessarily mean you’re engaging customers at a meaningful level. In order to do so, you need to develop a high-engagement strategy that allows you to set your brand apart. Here are some extremely practical suggestions:
1. Sponsor Local Events
There’s great power in association. If you can find a way to associate your brand with another brand, positive cause, or idea that your local community believes in, you can enjoy a significant boost.
One of the best ways to associate your brand with a positive element with your community is to sponsor a local event. This would include charitable events, races (such as a 5k or marathon), youth sports teams, holiday festivals, and school competitions.
This sort of engagement is often subliminal. However, over time, you’ll find that your brand becomes synonymous with whatever cause or event you’re sponsoring. And assuming that locals hold this cause or event in high regard, this provides tremendous benefit to your brand.
2. Attend Local Markets and Fairs
There’s something about getting out in the local community and engaging with people in a face to face manner that’s persuasive and magnetic. One way to do this is through attending local markets and fairs. The type of industry you’re in will dictate how viable an option this is, but you’d be surprised by how many opportunities exist (particularly in large markets and big cities).
When you go into a local event, there are two key elements to success:
- Branding. You want your presence at a local event to be known. The more exposure you create, the more likely it is that your brand will be positively connected to the customer experience you create. At festivals, fairs, markets, and other events, a custom branded canopy can help set you apart. If you’re a service business, having brochures on hand will also be helpful.
- Customer experience. The second major element is customer experience. In other words, how are you directly engaging the people who stop by and interact with your brand? You want your most magnetic and personable team members at these events.
As you attend more events like these, you’ll become better at engaging people and building your brand’s presence in your local community or market.
3. Build Hyper-Focused Landing Pages
In terms of local online marketing, the goal is to zero in on a very specific sub-segment of your larger audience. Thankfully, sites like Facebook make this relatively easy to do. You can customize your audience and then send them over to hyper-focused landing pages that are built around specific locations (cities, zip codes, states, etc.).
4. Use Facebook Live
If you’ve never tried Facebook Live (or Periscope for that matter), now would be a good time to explore the opportunities. In terms of local marketing, hosting live streaming videos can be an excellent way to drive local foot traffic to different events. It’s also a nice way to push through the noise and engage your audience in a highly personal way. (It’s the next best thing to actually communicating with them in person.)
Reach Your Customers Where They Are
Your customers shouldn’t have to come to you. If you’re doing local marketing right, your brand will reach them where they are.
Engaging customers on a meaningful level isn’t easy, nor is it particularly difficult. The key is to have the right strategy – a strategy that treats customers as individuals with specific needs, wants, and desires. And whether it’s a weekend event in a local park or a social media blitz that leverages Facebook Live, your ultimate goal is to tangibly connect with your audience in a way that drives them to action and effortlessly persuades them to communicate the value of your brand to their peers and circle of social influence.