Over the past few days we’ve had a number of conversations around the topic of getting set for re-opening once the current period of restrictions here in Ireland evolves. For some it may be sooner than others but in most cases it seems that right now plans are being made so that as businesses open up those owners are there ready to welcome customers back.
So, we thought in this week’s blog post we’d cover a couple of tips for local marketing that you can implement now if you’re a little quieter than normal.
Now’s the time to review everything on your social media. Ensure you’ve optimised each and every one of your channels and taken advantage of every opportunity it presents, when you’re trading locally ensure that if customers visit your premises that opening hours and contact information are correct and that your listing on a map is accurate.
You can also if you’re a little quieter, use your social media to network within your community. Have a chat in community forums, jump on a zoom call and have a chat or where you’ve got an audience and somebody needs the help don’t be shy about sharing.
Social media in ordinary times is more effective when you’ve got a plan and even more so if there’s a budget to make the most of it. However, the various networks also like you to update regularly too so even if it’s just jumping into a chat as your business or sharing an appeal for a local cause there’s no harm done where your audience sees an update or somebody who isn’t yet aware of you in the community spots you.
Look For Local Listings
Previously I mentioned community groups, there is however another type of group you should look into and that’s the likes of local chambers of commerce or other business organisations operating in your area. Whilst it’s always important to network and in an era where we’re doing more of this than ever online, there’s a lot of activity in every location with local groups who have moved online during this pandemic and who will in the future get back to their offline meetings too. In many cases you may pay a small fee for an annual membership (some groups have waived this in recent months) but now more than ever we’re all mindful of the importance of doing business locally so you don’t know what might come of it. And, if it’s an organisation that allows you list your details you can benefit from it in terms of search optimisation too – search engines such as Google like links back to the site but ONLY where they’re implemented for the right reasons.
One of our favourite sites here in Ireland for local listings is WhatsWhat.ie which also comes with a super supportive online community.
Google My Business
If you’re not yet familiar with it, this is a free tool from Google and all you need to sign up is a gmail address. With location information, links to your web presence, contact numbers, the option to collect reviews and a place to share updates along with your business information, time spent here is time well spent. And, when it comes to local marketing as you’ve got a map listing and opening hours when somebody is searching for your service or product in the area there are huge benefits for search too.
Run An Event
You might not be in a position to invite people into your premises as before but in some businesses there’s an opportunity to run some sort of skill-share. If you’re in hospitality you might do a cooking demo, if you’re a VA you might run a class on how to keep your inbox organized, if you’re in fitness you might do some classes online. Think about the business you’ve got, yes for many of us we can work with customers across the world but right now when supporting local business makes a difference doing something that’s community-based even if you’re working with clients across many counties or countries will be appreciated and will assist in raising your profile locally too.
In line with the previous post this is a giveaway of sorts but something that many of us do in the course of business anyway. How about though in the quieter times you run a trial programme or complemtary consulation using the options that are available through the online tools we’re all using just for your local community. Depending on what’s involved it might be worth spending even a little on social media ads to generate traffic locally so that it truly is a focus on getting to know who and what’s around you.
Every community group or sports club that relies on fund-raising in any way has felt the impact of the past year. Not every business has the budget for it but if you were to fund the cost of jerseys at the local football club for the year it would certainly be a big help for them as they get set to re-open? And of course your business is out there for training and matches right in front of a very local audience if that’s your target market of course.
We’ve all seen an ad and thought somebody was clever to find that spot near the busy junction or on the side of a house, use this quiet time to look for something that might work for you. Outdoor advertising can be very effective but for most small business owners the cost can be prohibitive too. However, if you’re out and about and spot somewhere that might make for an ideal location for an ad for your business why not ask about it now? If you’re out and about walking more no doubt others are too and when traffic and footfall returns to more normal levels you’re only going to benefit further too. If you’re not sure whether something will work, have a chat with a printer and see if they can advise – we like Apex Signs for printing as they’re good to advise on what the best options are that won’t break the bank.
Get The Camera Out
Websites should never be ‘finished’ and this is an ideal opportunity to get out and find some new images for your site that can be used and will appeal to the local community too. Lots of businesses here in Ireland use photos such as the Ha’penny Bridge to highlight they’re Dublin-based, if you’ve got a particular highlight in your area why not get out with the camera and get some new snaps that can be used on your site and in your social media that will draw attention from your local market? Photos that people recognise are great for sharing too.
Radio / Newspaper
Most areas have a local radio station or newspaper and in a world where everybody can be a creator the people behind these businesses still have to come up with content that keeps listeners tuned in or keeps readers happy. In many cases there might be a local or business show you can apply for but if not how about approaching them, your quiet time might help them fill a gap and you just never know who is listening – I’ve personally had a customer mention they first heard my name on a radio show I was part of six months previously.
Run A Competition
Every business is mindful of spend right now, at the same time we all need a bit of positivity too. While it’s nice to give away an iPad you will attract a large number of people who won’t even pay attention to what you have to offer as the prize is the main interest. Think about what you can offer for your community, if you’re a restaurant a meal on re-opening night would be welcome – if you’re an IT provider you could offer a session tidying up the home office. A promotion doesn’t have to cost a whole lot, even where you decide to run ads to generate activity it doesn’t have to become an expensive investment. However, right now with so many businesses not opening fully and an audience sitting on their phone a lot more than usual you might be surprised how something different captures people’s attention.
Shop Local – Support Local Business
The final tip we’re including is for everybody, not just the business owners. We all want to see people get back to work, we want to see our towns and villages busier again. In your business where you can support others trading locally they will appreciate it, maybe even reciprocate it or send referrals your way. It’s not directly ‘marketing’ but if you invest in businesses within your community where possible for supplies or services you’re also investing in your own business by creating a better environment for all of us.
Today’s post has focused on things you can to do market your business in quieter times such as the current lockdown we’re living with here in Ireland, it’s designed to help you use this time effectively so that you’re moving forward and preparing for the date you get to open again whether that’s weeks or months away. We will come back to this topic as the country re-opens, at that point we’re going to share local marketing tips that will involve in some cases a spend but for now we’re more mindful of costs than ever.
We’ve also got an ebook that you might find useful with tips and tricks that cost little or nothing too, grab a copy at this link.
We’re writing this series of blog posts with a focus on the small business owner, if there’s something you’d like us to cover at some point pop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.