Small Businesses and Local Advertising

Should small businesses use local advertising? While this is one of those questions that can quickly be responded to with “it depends…,” if the market is a local one I do tend to believe that local advertising makes sense. And I’m not alone. Consider the increase in local online advertising among many marketers. Local online advertising was predicted to surge by 18┬ápercent in 2012 to $18.5 billion

, according to paidContent.

The bigger the world gets, the more opportunities to leverage a small circle of influence I think. Just as when generating followers, friends and fans through social media bigger is not necessarily better. Small may be the way to go.

For small businesses or organizations–like healthcare–that serve local markets, local advertising in both traditional and online venues simply makes sense. Local advertising allows marketers interested in generating local interest in their products and services to access a wide range of low-cost, no-cost options. Chief among these will likely be social media – Facebook, Twitter, etc. – primarily due to the low cost and ability to specifically target micro segments of the market. Simply establishing a presence and beginning to interact with others who are in key positions can help to raise awareness.

But traditional advertising venues can still make sense. Local TV news, for instance, continues to provide an opportunity to reach a local, engaged audience and–importantly–studies continue to show that new is one type of television content not likely to be time-shifted through DVR technology.

In addition to what we tend to view as advertising vehicles, marketers hoping to reach a local market can also benefit from face-to-face contact with various audiences via live networking interactions through local business clubs and organizations. Organizations can select groups strategically and assign different staff members to participate based on both their interests and position within the organization.

As always, the most important thing when considering any of these options is to be strategic in selecting the best communication tools to achieve desired results. Marketers should first think about who they wish to influence or inform. They should be very specific in terms of the types of individuals they wish to reach and their lifestyles/habits: where they might work, interests they might have, etc. Then, based on their desired objectives and the audiences they hope to influence, they should consider those venues that are most likely to reach these people. So, on LinkedIn, for instance, there might be opportunities to become active in local organizations whose participants represent key contacts.

While any form of marketing communication should be more focused on building relationships than hawking goods and services, local marketing activities particularly lend themselves to relationship-building.

People like connecting with people. In fact, word-of-mouth continues to be the most effective means of gaining new customers or clients. As Ed Keller and Brad Fay, the authors of The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace (Free Press, 2012), point out, communicating face-to-face has more influence and impact than social media, traditional media and brand messaging.

Local businesses can literally get in front of their target audiences. This is a big benefit– leverage it!

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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