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Local Marketing: Guide to Reaching Customers in Your Area

If you’re a small to medium-sized business looking to grow your customer base, focusing your efforts on local communities is essential to developing and maintaining your audience. Local marketing involves content created and explicitly targeted towards local communities either online or in person. By using data to target these communities, you can create content that not only resonates but helps create a relatable and unique brand identity. 

To achieve a successful local marketing strategy, you’ll need a mix of owned, earned, and paid media efforts. Let’s dive into everything you need to know about local marketing to reach new audiences! 

What is Owned Media and How it Can Grow Your Local Audience

Owned media is a great launch point for businesses trying to jumpstart their local marketing game. Owned media is any content your company creates and channels it manages. This is the content that embodies your brand’s voice and values while showing off your products and services. Owned media content can be educational, informative, and entertaining. Here are some examples:

  • Social Media Channels
  • Blog and Websites
  • Webinars or Virtual Web Series

The more owned media channels you have, the larger your digital footprint will be, improving your brand or business’s search engine optimization or SEO. Using target keywords related to your community in your blog content or sharing engaging social media posts will provide your local followers a useful and fun experience. 

Another way to target your local communities is by teaming up with local businesses. One of our favorite examples is when YETI Coolers partnered with an Austin, Texas restaurant staple, El Arroyo, to highlight their new line of El Arroyo branded tumblers. YETI “stole” El Arroyo’s famous marquee sign and hosted a giveaway of the branded tumblers. The search for the El Arroyo marquee sign led to organic engagement across social media channels, which ultimately led this “owned media” effort into “earned media” for both brands. More on that below! 

To get the most out of your owned media efforts, prioritize consistently creating and posting content to your channels. Lean on a mix of social media, SEO-driven website content, and events to establish yourself in your community. By leveraging your owned channels, you increase the chances of reaching your desired local communities.

Earned Media and Its Power to Influence Local Communities

Earned media is a little trickier than owned media since it’s not as much at the business owner’s control. However, when successfully done, it can be even more rewarding than owned media. Earned media refers to non-paid marketing content. Think media and news outlets writing about your business or customers sharing information about your product on their social media. Earned media includes:

  • Local Public Relations (Print, Digital, Social Media, or Broadcast)
  • Testimonials on Social Media or Websites 
  • Awards/Badges (Yelp, Google, Glassdoor, etc.)

By far, the best way to control your earned media is by putting out share-worthy content. The YETI and El Arroyo Partnership is an example of how owned media turned into earned media. So many local communities tweeting about the sign, leading publications began to catch on and write about the stunt. After generating enough buzz, El Arroyo shared the temporary location of their sign on Twitter and announced the new line of Yeti tumblers. Now, whenever you search YETI and El Arroyo, this stunt pops up as Google’s top search result. And the better your content ranks in the search engine results, the better chance you have of outlets pushing it on their website.

Y'all fell hard for that one, huh? It is our PLEASURE to announce that the El Arroyo marquee sign has been found safe & sound with our friends at @YETICoolers! 🤠

Word-of-mouth, both online and in-person, is still one of the best ways to get your business’ name out there with new audiences – and helps build trust and credibility for your brand within local communities. Social media posts from employee profiles tend to get more organic reach than a company’s posts, so encouraging employee advocacy is a great way to boost word-of-mouth exposure. 

Participating in relevant local events can also lead to earned media exposure, along with connecting directly to your community. 

Once you get some positive earned media, the exposure tends to snowball. If one big media outlet picks up your content or one influential testimonial picks up steam, local audiences are bound to be intrigued and want to learn more about your business. Earned media is the gift that keeps giving.

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What is Phygital and Why It Matters

To find a post-pandemic normal, many local businesses are going “phygital.” Phygital is essentially a virtually blended business that combines the physical and digital to provide a new buying experience. This strategy is especially beneficial for companies navigating the re-opening process. 

In addition to providing the new hybrid buying experience for buyers, going phygital offers a unique opportunity for creating content that could be leveraged for earned media opportunities. Media outlets might take an interest in how local businesses are navigating the transition. This is a great opportunity to show your community how innovative (and considerate) your brand can be.

Related: What You Need to Know When Using Instagram Shops for Your Business

What is Paid Media and Its Benefits to Drive Traffic or Sales 

Paid media is pay-per-click advertising and is a vital part of any local marketing strategy. Paid media includes: 

  • Targeted Social Ads
  • Out-of-Home Advertising (OOH)
  • Influencer Partnerships
  • Business Listings

Paid media can be a strong arm in your local marketing strategy because it’s the easiest and most accurate way to target audiences in a specific geographic location. You can get super specific with the targeting options for ads or partnerships and make your advertising budget positively impact your bottom line. Get the most out of your paid media budget by running ads on the platforms frequented by your target audience. You can also use strategies like A/B testing to assess what type of ads resonate best with your target audience. 

While owned media encompasses your most valuable content, it’s often difficult for small businesses to garner enough reach. By factoring in ways to earn media into your marketing efforts and setting aside a small paid media budget, you can amplify your local reach and scale your business! Combining these three strategies can result in a powerhouse local marketing strategy.

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Catherine Mitchell

Catherine Mitchell is the Director of Brand & Communications at PLANOLY. She is always looking for ways to inspire and excite small business owners and creators with new narratives to cultivate community and drive growth.

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