As a small business integrated into a specific local market, advertising and word of mouth will be your best friends. Word of mouth tends to take care of itself. Do what you do really well, make your customers feel appreciated and empowered, and you won’t be able to get them to stop talking about you to their friends. Advertising is a little more complicated. It can be difficult to estimate exactly how many impressions you buy with your local advertising budget. We’ll cover some of the most effective, and inexpensive, local advertising options available.
1) The Internet. While this one seems like a no-brainer, it shouldn’t be overlooked or underused. Many popular businesses, that have been established in regional markets for decades, neglect their online presence, because they are already successful. These businesses may fail to attract new customers, ensuring future years of success. If your business isn’t represented in social media, or doesn’t come up near the top of relevant search results, your customers’ most helpful source of information about your business is not working. Even though the internet has no geographical boundaries, it is the first place most new customers will go to find you.
2) Stickers. Waterproof outdoor stickers are a great and cost-effective way for small businesses to establish familiarity within a regional market. This won’t work for every business, of course, but you’d be surprised how a good logo can catch the eye of hundreds, simply affixed to someone’s bumper. For coffee shops, bookstores, performance spaces, and others, stickers are a natural advertising avenue. But other entities have found ways to use the form to great effect: even banks, law firms, schools, and contractors. By having a familiar symbol associated with your brand, your business will be the “go-to” in your neighborhood, city, or region. An attractive sticker is a great way get people to spread the image for you, and they cost only pennies a pop.
3) The Local Free Paper. Every town of sufficient size has one. It’s the free publication available all over town. It is where your local citizenry goes for restaurant reviews, movie listings, new business openings, and interesting local stories. By advertising within or organizing stories about your business, you’ll find your business drawing interest from the publication’s dedicated readership. “The Local Rag” won’t charge you an arm and a leg to advertise, and your investment will be more efficient than a similar advertisement in a larger paper or radio station.
You can, of course, advertise however you like. Billboards, radio and TV ads, and large sponsorships still pay dividends. But it is important not to neglect the small ways you can advertise locally. These options may be minimal investments, but they give you a comparatively huge boost to local awareness of your brand.