15 Practical Ideas for Promoting a Small Business Locally

Jul 7, 2017 by Kristen Pinkman, Ecwid Team
15 Practical Ideas for Promoting a Small Business Locally
Posted Jul 7, 2017 by Kristen Pinkman, Ecwid Team

“Have you already been to that awesome pizza place on the corner?”

This is how a small local brand name quickly becomes a buzzword. Building a strong local presence breaks down to two stages: earning recognition and maintaining reputation. Those who can reach their customers effectively and gain their trust are likely to become local celebs.

With this list of ideas, you can create a plan that helps you get in front of the audience and keeps you flush with traffic to your store.

1. Make your service and delivery perfect

This should be done before any promotion happens. Word-of-mouth is a powerful referral source for your business–and you can drive it with stellar service and delivery to your existing customers.

By wowing shoppers with perfect service and delivery, you’re showing that you’re honored to have them as a customer and that you value each and every one of them. Consider going above and beyond for your audience.

2. Develop recognizable branding

With a recognizable logo and consistent branding, your local business can gain a foothold within the local marketplace and shoppers’ minds. Think of brands you know well. They’re simple, timeless, and easy to recognize–that’s what you’re striving for.

A post shared by Corktown Soap (@corktownsoap) on 

Be sure that you’re reinforcing your company brand in all the right places, such as:

3. Create a mobile-responsive website

The number of mobile users has already surpassed desktop–and this trend is only growing. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to have a mobile-responsive website as part of your promotion (and sales) strategy when reaching a local audience.

Ecwid offers a Starter Site that’s a simple, one-page home for your online store that’s completely mobile-friendly. There’s a built in shopping cart for all of these sites.

Ecwid starter site

Example of an Ecwid Starter Site

4. Get a Google Business Listing

Many people search out local businesses through Google, so having a complete business listing here makes it easier for customers to find you.

When people search for businesses like yours, you’ll come up both as a search result and within Google Maps. howcase your business hours, phone number, ratings, and get smartphone users quickly routed to your store with directions.

5. Be part of local online directories

Chances are your city has local business directories. Those are places you can get your business listed to get in front of more shoppers.

See what your options are, and then ask around to see which of these your current customers look at to find which would be the most relevant for you. You may find that some are more worthwhile than others.

A local business directory in San Diego

A local business directory in San Diego

You’ll likely want to consider directories like:

Aside from these more common local online directories, you may also see if there is a local newspaper or magazine that does special industry directories during the year, too.

6. Get listed on Yelp

Getting your local business listed on Yelp means potential customers can find you more easily through this site’s directory.

You can add your address, contact details, and a short description of your business to attract new shoppers. Customers will have the opportunity to post photos and leave reviews of their own. If you want your store to appear at the top of the listings on Yelp, you can also consider buying ad space.

Sample Yelp directory listing for a clothing boutique in San Francisco

Sample Yelp directory listing for a clothing boutique in San Francisco

7. Work with micro influencers on Instagram

Micro influencers are those with a semi-large following, we’re not talking Kim Kardashian level here. They are cheaper, but their audiences are usually very active.

To get started, look for local influencers who have a following of 5,000-50,000 followers (some of them might already be your own followers!) and see if they’re open to working together for a social media collaboration. Take this example from Steadfast Coffee, as featured by Nashville-based blogger Gummergal on Instagram:

Example of an Instagram partnership with a micro-influencer

Example of an Instagram partnership with a micro-influencer

8. Leverage Foursquare

Some social-savvy customers like using discovery apps like Foursquare to find new stores to visit, so having a presence here allows you to tap into this demographic of shoppers.

By setting up a Foursquare business listing, you can let visitors check in and share where they’re shopping with friends. Plus, you can also use it to share special deals and advertise to the more than 50 million users of this app–all while taking advantage of the highly social format of this tool.

9. Use an email list

Email helps you continue the conversation with local customers you’ve met in-store. Start gathering subscribers at your local business (at the checkout counter is a good idea), and from here, you can keep in touch with the existing shoppers and share engaging emails about upcoming events, sales, new item releases, and more.

10. Offer in-store pickup

For nearby shoppers who don’t want to pay for unnecessary shipping costs, you should consider adding an in-store pickup option that also drives foot traffic to your local business.

As more and more shoppers start coming to your local business, the more opportunities you have to connect face-to-face and build relationships. Plus, when your customers come by to pick up their orders, they may even find some additional items they want to tack onto their purchases.

Ecwid’s in-store pickup feature

Ecwid’s order pickup feature

11. Host events

A little party never killed nobody! Events are a great way to build excitement around a special occasion happening at your local business.

Whether it’s a special shopping event, an arts and crafts fair, a local entertainer performing in-store, or a partnership with another relevant shop, events give customers one more reason to come by your store and build valuable emotional connections with your brand.

12. Work with local media

Local media coverage (think radio, TV, newspapers) is a great way to remind your local audience that you’re around town and doing great work.

Come up with a “pitch list” of 3-5 interesting story angles for these outlets (try not to put your business at the center) and send them out to some of your local reporters to see if there’s any interest. Stories about how you’re supporting a charity or giving back locally typically work best. If you don’t hear back within a few days, be sure to follow up.

Don’t forget to write a great copy for your “About Us” page to hook reporters.

Related: Publicity on a Budget

13. Try Facebook ads

You can invest in Facebook ads to drive local visitors to your store. Thanks to the detailed targeting options on Facebook, you can pinpoint the local audience based on zip code or town name as well as demographic options (gender, age, interests, etc.) to only showcase your ad to the best suited audience.

Want more tips on Facebook ads?

14. Collect reviews

Reviews are powerful elements of social proof that can help convince shoppers to come in and check out your local business. They help you build a positive reputation with your audience–which is crucial for local businesses.

The other benefit of reviews: shoppers hate to miss out on a good deal or new find, so you can leverage reviews to create a fear of missing out that drives new visitors to your store over and over.

Also read: 4 Ways to Use Social Proof on Your Online Store

15. Give back

Goodwill (or good karma, if you like) is never a bad idea, right? When you lead efforts that give back (like charity, volunteering, etc.) it makes shoppers feel good about supporting your business.

Think about relevant ways you can give back locally, and then share those efforts with your shoppers so they know how they can help, too. This shows you’re a good community citizen and care about more than just profits. Who knows, it may even result in some good press for your brand, too.

Giving back helps your community

Giving back helps your community

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Make a to-do list based on the suggestions for promotion we’ve outlined here, and then start getting your bases covered for driving local traffic. You might only have a few things left to finish, or maybe you’re starting from square one. Whatever the case, don’t overlook local opportunities for promotion. Sometimes the best long-term supporters are the ones right in your backyard.

About The Author
Kristen is a сontent creator at Ecwid. She finds inspiration in sci-fi books, jazz music, and home-cooked food.

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