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11 Creative Local Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses

Ian Blair

Don’t be deceived. Your prospects and customers don’t care.

Your audience doesn’t give a damn about your business. You’ve got to stay alert – and give them a strong reason to. It’s your #1 responsibility!

If you’re worried that your business isn’t bringing enough customers locally, don’t take it to heart. Stop brooding over it. You’ve got pals.

A lot of business owners who cater primarily to local consumers have given up already.

Guess what?

Your audience doesn’t want more content. However, they want a more personalized experience.

Data from Olapic found that, “Consumers are over 5x more likely to complete a purchase if a recommendation is personalised to them.” According to online shoppers, a personalized email can generate more sales.

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I know that you’re searching for local marketing ideas. If not, why are you still reading this post.

Anyways, let me show you the 7 proven and tested ideas to drive local leads and customers quickly.

If you’re ready like I am, let’s dive in with human’s best learning medium:

Videos.

 

1. Create Educational Videos

Vimeo,YouTube, and several other video sharing networks were created primarily for education and entertainment.

If you look around the web today, you can locate video. and tons of it. In October 2009, Google reported that YouTube was generating 1 billion unique views per day.

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As you already know, video is a medium that can create excitement about a specific topic or theory, and engages the audience irrespective of their perspective.

For one, videos helps students to visualize the topic – and they can easily relate to it. Whether you’re a digital marketer or a full-fledged local business owner, start creating educational videos that will solve their audience’s problems.

Here are just a couple of thoughts of what you can do with video:

  • Icebreakers
  • Inform job applicants about current openings
  • Request for user feedback at the end of an educational video
  • Create “how to videos (great for teaching applications or a process)

There are considerable research studies that shows the importance of creating educational videos – and how it can help students excel in their studies.

The same study highlights the key role that educational videos play in marketing, and how local businesses attract, convince, and acquire the right leads.

Based on a recent teacher survey, video has been efficiently used by 94% of classroom teachers during the course of the last academic year. And it’s being used by most teachers often – on average weekly. But why?.

Well, teachers have the responsibility to get students to participate in any worthwhile learning procedure, and video is definitely an educational medium that’s compelling  – because it creates a substantially greater quantity of enjoyment and interest than the more conventional written content (e.g., posts, articles).

Audio and vision are the essential factors that makes a video different from any other media. More so, if you want an ideal medium to communicate to local consumers who are visual or auditory learners – educational videos can help.

You can see the estimated company spend for 2016, based on size. I can assure you that creating more video content will take a huge portion of the budget.

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Interestingly, when you use subtitles, the target audience will have the opportunity to view, listen to, or read each demonstration.

Educational video engages and excites ideal customers – keeping that interest for longer intervals and creating strong demand for your product.

Last but not least, it delivers a powerful and advanced means for local business owners to pinpoint the challenges of your audience, address them accordingly, and present the program content in a step by step format.

2. Cross Promote With Other Local Retailers

Do you want to communicate your message without paying a dime?

If yes, you might want to give cross promotion a try.

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It usually provides a win/win value for you and the people you’re cross promoting with. And all you need are free distribution channels. According to Edward Lowe Foundation, “cross promotion is a free form of advertising.”

You and your local business competitors and non-competitors can scratch each other’s backs. Your local business can grow if only you step out of your comfort zone to help other companies achieve their goal.

It could be as simple as exchanging business cards. You could even give away free gifts.

That way, you get your marketing materials handed out for free, and your promotional associates/partners gets to offer their customers a memorable experience.

Ideally, you could capitalize on one another’s register receipts – by simply placing promotional messages.

As an example, an insurance agent in my community recently entered into a mutual relationship with a local restaurateur. And it produced results.

The insurance agent was smart. He decided to hand out several of his business cards each time he calls a company.

Trust me, this is a typical example of a Cross Promotion that local businesses can employ to get more eyeballs or targeted customers.

Or, a Duracell brand advertising a glue stick (slide).

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Remember that when you hand out your business cards, you can request an entirely different marketing material (e.g., free gifts), which you can use to promote the other business.

There should be a balance.

Back to the company. Through this cross promotion campaign, they developed proven systems that enabled customers see and participate in contests that will possibly qualify them to win prizes.

By marketing each other within the shop to their customers, particularly when the particular retailer didn’t have precisely what the customer was seeking – tremendous revenue increase was recorded.

To make it very easy, the company printed a booklet which contains the map and address locations of each member. The front of the leaflet reads, “folks you can trust.”

For better results, the company decided to purchase advertisements jointly on the local radio and in the local publications (i.e., newspaper). Interestingly, the companies made impact, generated more leads and stepped up their game to cater to more qualified customers.

 

3. Sponsor Local Events To Amplify Your Reach

It’s high time you begin to support a noble cause.

Most local business owners are confused with the word “sponsorship.” Isn’t that why they get it all wrong?

Here’s how Wikipedia defines “sponsor:”

“To sponsor something is to support an event, activity, person, or organization financially or through the provision of products or services. A sponsor is the individual or group that provides the support, similar to a benefactor.”

Sponsorship, just like cross promotion is a form of free advertising. In fact, it’s actually one of the simplest and most affordable strategies for a small company to garner lots of exposure. You can reach more people through Quora, also.

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When you support a good cause, you’re not only paving way for your company to excel and outsmart the competitors (especially those that are so much concerned about making more money, and not making impact).

Additionally, it creates the right promotion that supports prospective customers to select your company over other companies.

That’s wonderful, right?

Sure, it is.

And guess what? You don’t need a huge budget to make your sponsorship stand out. Listen up: whether or not you give away your precious time, or thousands of dollars to give, sponsoring an event can boost your business’ growth.

Understand that Sponsorships are Great Advertising Investments

Yes, sponsorship provides a medium to improve your brand.

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The truth is that there are numerous kinds of sponsorships your company can benefit from. But remember that you can use social media to aid your sponsorship.

In other words, you can amplify your reach – with the sponsor page, as well as through social media networks, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest.

When you embrace and amplify your sponsorship reach through social media, you’ll create “interaction.”

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By now, you should know that a lot of local business owners have a persistent focus on one aspect of social interaction: the brand-consumer relationship. But you don’t have to be too myopic (or glean towards a single approach to social media interactions).

One thing that differentiates social media interaction from other forms of interaction is the timing. When it comes to social media, you’ve to first determine when your fans are active.

There are good examples of brands and local businesses that created more awareness and grew – just by sponsoring local events and creating social interaction on Facebook.

Let me paint you a picture: An independent mechanic who’s being paid to place a Shell emblem on the local hardware store or her garage receiving marketing dollars for a yellow pages advertisement saying that they’re an “authorized Kohler provider from Kohler.

Take your sponsorship to a new height and attract partners

Regardless of where you’re right now in your business, you can leverage the help of other people to get better results.

Whether you’re a startup or a Fortune 500 firm, you can partner with another company through social media interaction to create a win/win situation for you both. Here are a few methods you can integrate partners in your plans:

i).    Cooperate with a partner to boost business profile: When your local business profile is enhanced, your credibility goes up. That’s when local consumers begin to tell others about your business.

For example, if you sell flat shoes, you may find it difficult to compete with another company in your community that has gained trust.

So what do you do?

The answer is obvious: up your game.

While they give their brand equity to your advertising, remember that it’s very possible for you to supply added exposure for the partner brand.

For instance, consider integrating your partner’s business or offer into the marketing material designs.

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Again, you can spread the promotional message on your Facebook page by uploading the marketing materials and highlighting the inclusion.

Better yet, tell your friends offline, or send a SMS to inform them about your new cooperation.

Partners can offer accessibility to prizes you mightn’t otherwise have the ability to offer, both material and experiential.

ii).   Create excitement before and after sponsoring an event: This is one of the rare things that most local businesses haven’t come to terms with yet. But it’s essential.

Dare to create excitement before the event, by talking about your sponsorship and how excited you’re about it. And don’t stop there.

After the event, talk about your sponsorship and what motivated you to do so. If you’ve a chance to speak at the event, tell the audience you’re one of the sponsors. It’s a good place to start building engagement.

Because majority of your target audience (especially those who believe in participating in a noble cause), will want to know more about your business.

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4. Create And Distribute DIY Infographics

Humans are “visual” creatures.

Surprisingly, recent study estimated that up to 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. Also, businesses that market with infographics will experience 12% average traffic growth.

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We’re enveloped when sliding through our photo albums – whether electronic or the book-like album.

Generally, “visual” platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Periscope are leading the way, and redefining how people consume content online.

Several other social media platforms are integrating visual appeal into the mix. That’s why your app icon is so important.

For example, LinkedIn now uses Professional Portfolio to visually represent your profile, and they have also integrated Slideshare’s new Infographic Player a few months back.

If you’re active on Twitter and follows the updates, you already know that Twitter showcases Tweets with images, and in fact, Tweets with images 18% more click-throughs, and 150% more retweets.

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A rich and valuable infographic has the potential to drive business growth. Because, it quickly reveals your core values, ethics, and brand capability.

In short, it can compress space and time. It can help you convey often complicated topics or subjects in a simple and “K.I.S.S.” manner.

As a local business, Do It Yourself infographics will illuminate patterns and make huge quantity of information seem interesting to read and understand. (Sure, we’re spending considerably more on health care and schooling than our grandparents did.

Psychologically, infographics may live on the digital space, but they’re tangible – and can convincingly pique your ideal customer’s attention.

Seriously, that can be done while providing VALUE, beyond their wildest imaginations.

All right, do you know that people have this emotional attachment to infographics?

Funny but true: A powerful infographic surprises the audience. It nudges them from the inside. It keeps them glued to their PC or smartphone screen – gazing uncontrollably at it – and feeling obliged to share it with other people.

I can boldly say that infographics work. And because it works, recent data from Content Marketing Institute found that, “62% of the companies surveyed used infographics in 2014 (compared to just half in 2013).

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Imagine how many potential customers you’ll reach and impact with your infographic.

Of course, you may not reach a lot of ideal customers directly, but when your immediate fans, prospects, and customers share your infographic, the chances of reaching the unreached audience become high.

Isn’t it obvious?

With clear focus and understanding of your target audience, you can create awesome infographics – that will educate, inform, and excite your audience – locally.

Some of the helpful infographics provides rich insights – and uses a lot of data to back up opinions. Everything in the infographics are credible – which makes them easier to share and republish.

Overall, people are obsessed about visual information (e.g., infographics), because they’re able to see the information as it emerges from your heart.

With infographics, there is no marketing hype or gimmicks. Everything is well spelt out for all to see. It’s pure education.

I understand that you might be asking, “how does an infographic help me drive traffic and promote my local business?”

Hey, that’s a good question.

One of the greatest and traffic source that loves infographics is Google.

This equally means that when you combine search engine optimization with social signals, you can get an infographic page ranked highly in Google.

Search Engine Optimization helps you optimize pages to drive search traffic, which is the biggest source of traffic that popular websites don’t take lightly.

By getting links from websites that are trustworthy and relevant, it’ll improve your Domain Authority and raise your standing in the search engines.

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Listen up: Creating DIY infographics is an excellent local marketing idea that will get you unimaginable results.

The beauty of it is that you can create one infographic, and have it reposted or republished on hundreds of websites – all sending links back to your page.

You get it posted on several sites without fear of Google penalty. Because to Google, it’s only an image, not a written text. Yes, you can’t reproduce exactly the same content without Google penalty, even if it’s done through guest blogging.

That’s why I encourage you to use infographics in promoting your local business. You’ll never regret it.

You can hire a professional infographic designer from Dribbble.com, 99Designs.com, or outsource the design to professionals at Visual.ly.

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What are the components of a great Infographic?

There are three important components: A unique storyline, a consistent approach and credible statistical data.

When creating an infographic with the with the hope of getting the target audience in your local environment, focus on the above 3 factors. If you neglect them, you’ll struggle getting people to read your infographic.

It doesn’t matter what your marketing decisions are, a perfect infographic will seamlessly create a synergy between your brand and offer.

Each factor is dependent on the other. For one, without a story or relevant message that your ideal audience or “viewer” crave after, your design will fail flat.

In the same vein, when your infographic is devoid of great design, your story is not effectively communicated or represented… let’s not forget that strategic promotion of your infographic is key, too.

No promotion, no results.

Make no mistakes about it. If no one sees it, your ideal, story, culture, and product is heading for failure. Obviously, the right audience will miss it.

I want you to know that these are the same elements that makes an infographic good and desirable.

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Let’s see how the elements/factors connects with the other:

i).  Unique storyline is usually at the early stages of your design. While you’re planning your infographic design – but the very essence of a unique storyline is that it guides you along the way. You don’t design without it.

Often times, your idea might seem powerful and full of potentials to change people’s live on paper, but when you convert it into visual information, you’ve a responsibility to change the entire message, wording, imagery, culture, positioning or even overall concept.

ii).   The design of an infographic all boils down to the inspiration you’ve got on the inside. How do you intend to promote the it in the first, second, and third phases – this equally depends on how many phases of promotion you intend to have.

Who will you be reaching out to when your infographic design is complete, and you’ve published it?

Are there authority blogs, brands or business profiles or industry power users and leaders who you can reference in your infographic to create additional trust?

Can you “showcase” these power users using stats, quotes, industry case studies or source references?  Everyone, and that includes brands and businesses like to be featured in a positive manner.

In clear terms, make up your mind that from “the-on-to-the-set” of your infographic, you’ll intertwin your unique storyline, design, promotion, and future marketing decisions.

Because, every successful infographic promotion and virality is expected to create a multiplier effect on future promotions.

When promoting your local business, you’ve got a to take bold step.

Most important, the headline of your infographic is what creates attraction. You’ve got to make it irresistibly catchy. Here’s an example:

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Make sure your headline matches your subject/topic in the preference that your audience have indicated interest in.

For example, if your audience enjoys learning through visuals, then, they’ll likely adore your infographics. If your company is technology-connected, your headlines are the defining moments of your infographic.

In case you’re not aware, technology-connected audience have low attention span. You either engage them within 3 – 5 seconds or they’ll be be gone. And you can satisfy this urge with your catchy infographic headline.

There are a few things that separates a local business from a global business. But overall, we can make a strong point – and understand the impact of infographics marketing for businesses.

It works.

If not for anything, make sure that your DIY infographic evokes strong emotions. It gives people a new thinking pattern.

For example, Jon Morrow published a blog post at Problogger a few years ago. That post I must confess, transformed the lives of practically everyone who read it.

It was centered around a narrative of the writer’s transition from a terrible state – how he left his job and got paid to change the world – for good.

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The last time I checked, that post did went viral, and garnered more than 2900 Facebook likes, 9,500 tweets and over 490 comments. By infusing narrative into it like Jon Morrow, you can supercharge your infographic.

An approach that you can take in your infographic would be to tell the narrative of strategies you used to reach a result and experiments you’ve carried out.

You can also use other people’s data to make a point, and design infographics that proofs your strategies work.

Using statistical data is vital: I personally use a lot of statistical data in my infographics. Because I’ve found that viewers and potential clients who would like to hire you may not be moved on the inside, if your infographic is only based on your own personal view, with no data. You should convey ideas or topics with verifiable sources if you want to build trust quickly.

Here’s an typical infographic that has a lot of statistical data to back up the claims:

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Honestly, someone may have compiled the data for you. As a rule of thumb, reference the data in your infographic.

If you’re in doubt, try and authenticate it from other experts or credible sources.

Let’s look at two vivid examples:

Mr. J. said that if you buy his new video training lessons, you’ll lose weight quickly.

Mr. K has a distinct plan: his sales pitch is focused on what his training classes have done for other people who have similar challenges like you do, in the past 3 months.

His copy reads, “the training video will discuss clearly the 15 success stories of men and women who have lost up to 20 pounds in the previous 3 months and the 3-step strategy to get your own results quickly.

Which of these fitness specialists are you likely to listen to, trust, and eventually purchase from?

I strongly believe Mr. K will undoubtedly earn your business, because he understands buyer psychology, and uses data, visuals and proven success stories to win his ideal customers.

5. Make Local Employees Your VIPs

Are you leveraging local employees?

Make no mistakes about it. They’re your VIPs when it comes to promoting your own business.

If you know a leading company near your own company, you can capitalize on the employee strength to create more awareness for your local business.

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You may think that offering a reduction to workers who reveal their name badge looks like a great thought, but frequently – it doesn’t work because those people who are already customers take advantage of it.

You can get a nearby company to spread your “VIP card” from your company to each of their workers. You may also offer incentives or rewards to encourage their participation.

For example, an eatery might offer free dessert or a percentage discount. A photo shop might price 6×9” photographs as 5×7” pictures. Endeavor to keep the offer lower than you normally would when dealing with this kind of retailer cross promotions.

Some of the greatest grassroots local business promotional strategies can be done on site.

The clear advantage to these kinds of promotion boils down to the fact that since you aren’t encouraging collaboration with another retailer or organization that you have complete control over their execution.

Offering employee bonus when they come to you

Employees, workers, and staff members of other companies around your local environs are a strong force to reckon with.

You can offer them bonus, rebates, or free shipping (if you sell physical products), not only to encourage them to buy from you – but also, to leverage their time and turn them into brand ambassadors.

This bonus can easily be given many times annually. It takes almost no time to set up, but the results can be strikingly dramatic.

More so, when it becomes a competition, then you’re good to go. Ideally, dazzle these employees and staff members by certifying them – and choosing to pay out commissions on every referred sale or customer.

While leveraging local companies’ employees, remember that the offer should not be worse than any regular coupon or discount. The real printed piece can be one fourth of a piece of paper and functions best when printed on coloured card stock with one colour of ink.

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One of our customers in Gastonia, North Carolina, received 942 redemptions. And this is just from one referral competition promotion.

See how it works: Engagement in the competition is not involuntary. Any full or part time worker can participate. Give 50 of the certifications to each participating worker.

Ensure that participants signs them. Hence, since they’ve their signature on it, they’ll put their minds to it.

 

6. Participate in Trade Shows

When last did you participate in trade shows?

Have you forgotten that your success as a company is dependent on how much you understand your target audience – and how you pitch the right offer to them.

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Getting to know your ideal customers is key.

A trade show makes this fun.

Sadly, your company will not be sought out by customers – if you’re not exhibiting your products and services. They’re going to gravitate towards your competitors – that are easily accessible, and recognizable to them.

If you don’t want your brand to seem ignored, the simple solution you need is:

Tradeshow promotions

According to Trade Show News Network, “99% of marketers said they found unique value from trade shows they didn’t get from other marketing channels. More so, companies spend more than $24 billion annually on exhibiting.

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Promotions and conventional marketing plays a key role in the success of any company. There are many methods in which you are able to promote and advertise your brand aside trade shows.

However, when you participate in trade shows, you’re casting your net wider. Don’t be surprised if you catch more fishes (i.e., ideal customers).

Trade shows provide a great opportunity to present your products to a large audience, and improve your brand, goodwill, and people’s impression about your business.

They can be also an excellent way to socialize and participate face to face with prospective and present customers. This is obvious, isn’t it?

Attendees of trade shows have a real interest in services and the products that businesses exhibit. Most of these people travel miles just to attend the event.

One of the terrific data from the The CEIR Report ACRR shows that 78% of trade show attendees travel more than 400 miles to attend an exhibition, which means you are getting a national audience at many trade shows.

 

7. Develop And Nurture A Business Referral Network

Your customers love you. I know.

But here’s the reality that you need to face: if you don’t have a system for bringing in new and qualified prospects, you would be out of business soon.

Unfortunately, most local businesses know that – but they’re not doing anything to salvage the situation.

Most of the time, you can’t do it all alone. Sir. Richard Branson didn’t build the multinational Virgin Group all by himself. He had a tough team that never give up.

These are high own sales army.

Start by developing and nurturing a business referral network.

Just look at the results that you could get by building a referral network – people helping you achieve your goals.

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Actually, positive word of mouth reviews and referrals are two of the best proven get more leads, sales, and loyal customers. You can create the proper environment to make connections readily.

As the better choice for customers, especially when your network lives by your company’s culture and values, you can rest assured that your company is projected to achieve results. Basically, you can keep customers excited and engaged throughout their membership or participation with your local business.

Building a referral network that is good also helps establish your credibility.

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Beyond acquiring leads and nurturing a referral network, your customers expect you to have expertise in your business, including understanding complementary products/services services which you may not offer at the moment.

With a good referral network, you prevent prospects and customers from seeing you as a nobody who’s only concerned about exploiting them.

When people anticipate a change or upgrade, but didn’t get it – that’s a poor customer experience. Consequently, unsatisfied customers will spread the negative news.

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Worse yet, unsatisfied customers can switch brands faster than a speeding bullet.

Put your referral networks to credible use: Your duty isn’t to exploit your referral network for your own selfish gains, but to harness them for future business developments.

And that makes a lot of sense. Because, local consumers want intimacy. They want a brand they can trust and resort to whenever they’re in dire need.

Pay attention to the right audience and start building and nurturing a good referral network  – that’ll stand by you.

Ideally, the first phase should include other companies that you respect or look up to. These companies should also be of significance to your customers.

Essentially, you want to establish a list of referrals for services or goods; people who have strong passion to promote your business.

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For instance, let’s assume that you run a clothing shop. You should have a list of upholsterers and tailor stores if those services are offered by you. With no list, you may be viewed by customers as an amateur.

Imagine that Apple doesn’t have the names of their loyal customers. Tell me, are they truly in business?

Constantly give choices to customers and they’ll have you in mind when deciding to make a new purchase.

The second phase which is equally important should most assuredly contain other companies associated with your company – and trust your brand to an extent.

There’s a relationship because customers who purchase from you repeatedly, compared to the behaviors of customers who purchase just one-time from your competitors.

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As an excellent example, let’s assume that you’re a Cosmetologist. Many of your customers would trust that you could refer them to an excellent nail tech and may also need nail salon services.

As you may possibly know, this second phase requires some face to face networking to establish an excellent business relationship – with both the consumer and companies.

The moment you’ve created an awesome list from the first two phases, it’s time to create a list of company referrals that aren’t related to your business in any manner.

Nevertheless, these sources can be something that everyone passionately needs, and are equally as essential to your business, and to your customers.

In making your referral list, you might want to add eateries, museums, resorts, etc. in your network to reinforce relationships with customers.

Also, this enhances your chances of acquiring more lofty referrals. It’s true that most of their customers may be skeptical – and truly may not want your services or request referrals associated with your company.

But don’t assume or let that stop you. Dare to take risks. Come on, you’re a business owner. Whether or not you’re seeking for local consumers, you should beat your chest and dare to take action.

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Last but not least, when approaching companies in the third phase, you’ll need extra packaging.

As you begin to change their mindset, they’ll begin to nod and smile – with a deep understanding of the reason why your company should be referred by them.

Feel free: add them to your group of business partners once they begin to comprehend your business – and core objectives.

Conclusion

The venue is booked. The date is known to all.

Are you going to wait until you’re given a magic wand, before you can grow your local business?

Get started right away.

If you’re not sure how to promote your business locally, I’ve shown you a handful of local marketing ideas that worked – and proven case studies and statistical data.

Remember that the cornerstone of all local marketing lies in the content. If your message, or product is not communicate in an educational, entertaining, and inspiring manner – the same people you’re reaching out to will mar your efforts.

Therefore, wrap your local marketing ideas with great content. That’s what your target audience wants. Anything short of high-value content (backed with data) will no longer suffice in this competitive age.

Step out of your comfort quarters. Pick one of the ideas and put it to work. Meanwhile, share your local marketing results if you’ve implemented any of these ideas and strategies.

 

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Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.

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