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How to Promote Your Small Business Locally Ecwid E-commerce blog

How to Promote Your Small Business Locally: 15 Practical Ideas

15 min read

According to this survey, 26% of young adults in the US have significantly increased their purchases of local products and services as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. The trend will likely stay even when the pandemic is over, so now is the time to market your business to the local community.

Building a strong local presence breaks down into two stages: earning recognition and maintaining reputation. Those who find a way to 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.

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Tips from e-commerce experts for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
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1. Make Your Service and Delivery Perfect

Before you decide how to market a local business, make sure you “deliver” on customer service. Word-of-mouth is a powerful referral source for your small business — and you can drive it with stellar service and delivery to your existing customers.

If you want to increase the chance of repeat customers, ensure a quick and smooth delivery. They are likely to recommend your business to their friends and family after a positive experience. Another way to impress customers — offer free delivery for orders over a certain subtotal, for example, for orders over $100.

Another way to deliver top service is to show you care about your customers’ safety. Explain on your website how you are minimizing contact during the pandemic (moving from cash to online payments, using gloves when delivering products, etc.)

Learn more: How to Set Up Curbside Pickup and Local Delivery for Your Business

Wowing shoppers with perfect service and delivery is a way to show 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 picture from McDonald’s Instagram account

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

  • Your store’s sign
  • Your website
  • Social media
  • Packaging
  • Invoices
  • Email
  • Handouts/marketing materials
  • Ads
  • Store assets, like windows, rugs, etc.

Also: Business Names Ideas: How to Choose the Best Store Name

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 an Instant Site that’s a simple website builder for your online store that’s completely mobile-friendly. There’s a built-in shopping cart for all of these sites.

instant site mobile

Ecwid Instant Site adapts to any mobile devices

4. Get a Google Business Listing

If you wonder how to promote a business without money, focus on generating organic traffic from search engines. Many people search out local businesses through Google, so having a complete business listing here makes it easier for customers to find you.

Example of a Google My Business listing

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

It’s a good idea to update information in your listing that’s changed as a result of COVID-19, as people turn to Google to verify open businesses.

Interested in how to promote your local business online? Read our blog post on ranking your local store higher in search engines.

5. Be Part of Local Online Directories

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

First, make a list of available directories. 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.

promote local business

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 small business to appear at the top of the listings on Yelp, you can also consider buying ad space.

promote business locally

Yelp directory listings for a shopping category in San Francisco

7. Work with Micro-Influencers on Instagram

If you’re looking for ways to promote your business on social media — partner with micro-influencers. They have 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.

Example of an Instagram partnership with a micro-influencer

8. Leverage Foursquare City Guide

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

Foursquare City Guide identifies a user’s location and recommends nearby businesses. Recommendations are sourced from other users who have visited and left a good rating or review.

You can also use a business listing on Foursquare City Guide to share special deals, keep customers up to date, and add links to your website or social media.

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).

In your Ecwid store, you can collect emails at the checkout if you use Next-gen Storefront. To switch to it, go to Settings → What’s New. If you don’t see “Next-gen Storefront” there, that’s great — it means it’s already enabled in your store.

Customers enter their email address at checkout

As you build your email list, keep in touch with customers and share engaging emails about upcoming events, sales, new item releases, and more.

Learn more: 10 Smart Ways to Grow Your Newsletter List

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.

While we’re waiting for the pandemic to end, offer carry-out to let your customers order online and safely pick up from their vehicle. A curbside pickup option allows businesses to minimize person-to-person contact.

Ecwid’s order pickup feature

To make the pickup process easier, let customers schedule a convenient date and time at checkout. You can set it to factor order fulfillment time. When enabled, your store will automatically display the available pickup times.

These features are readily available on the Shipping & Pickup page in your Control Panel. For a detailed walkthrough, read more on how to set up curbside pickup for your business.

When the quarantine is over, in-store pickup can replace curbside pickup as one of the ways to promote a 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.

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. Make a note of it and start thinking of an offline event to host after the pandemic.

For now, you can host online events like webinars, live stream video in your online storefront or on social media. It’s one of the cheap ways to promote your business, allowing you to engage with customers in real time. For example, you can answer frequently asked questions or collect insightful feedback.

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.

Add subtitles to your video ads as many people watch them without sound

Check out this step-by-step instruction on how to promote local businesses on Facebook via ads.

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 store. They help you build a positive reputation with your audience — which is crucial for local businesses.

Another 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.

Here are some ways to use reviews for promoting a small business:

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.

Use social media as a way to build awareness for an important cause and increase your reach. For example, Ecwid store Atomic Creamery has been donating pints and milkshakes for first responders & healthcare workers during the pandemic:

Find Your Best Way to Advertise Locally

Make a to-do list based on the ways to promote local business 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.


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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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