New startup businesses typically operate on a limited budget. Yet, one of their most critical needs is to promote the company to the local community. With area support and word-of-mouth referrals, a business can grow quickly and effectively. However, the challenge is to integrate the organization within the local community as quickly and affordably as possible. Here are seven local marketing strategies that can help to accomplish that goal.
While running a business is not intended to be a social enterprise, socialization can play a major role in helping you to make local connections. You can get acquainted with other area businesses by frequenting nearby coffee shops and eateries or shopping at the corner store. As people get to know who you are, they will begin to appreciate your down-to-earth willingness to be friendly and when possible, strike up conversations.
Parades, festivals, and street fairs are terrific ways to mingle with the neighborhood regulars and become part of the social scene. Customers and colleagues appreciate it when a new business owner takes time to connect with other businesses in the area. You might offer to give a free demonstration or hand out samples related to your business at a community venue, such as an annual fair.
What’s amazing about this local marketing strategy is that you’re actually helping your community by giving back. Donating to a youth league or school fundraiser raises awareness about your interest in and commitment to community groups, especially kids and teens. Affiliations with sports and education not only draws appreciation from parents and teachers, but also may earn your company name a spot on sports gear, stadium seats, or contributor lists. Residents are likelier to patronize your business when they know that you play an active role in worthwhile activities that benefit local residents, especially the youth.
Like our previous example of donating to sports teams, charitable contributions allow you to also give back to the community. Fundraisers for an accident victim or someone who is struggling with a serious illness is not only the right and kind thing to do, but it also puts your company in a favorable light. Volunteering at the local soup kitchen or donating time to a disaster relief program following a catastrophic weather event reveals your compassion and concern for the area in which you do business. A monthly stint at the soup kitchen or donating used equipment in good condition to a charitable organization will make you feel good inside while also doing good things for others as well as your company.
Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and Twitter are among the widely-used social media websites where you can join for free. Sharing brief posts about your company’s latest news or upcoming sales events, or announcing a new product or service, helps to keep your organization’s name fresh in the minds of social media connections and followers. People appreciating hearing about upcoming sales events or the ways in which you and your company are giving back to the community.
Holidays are a great time to give away seasonal gifts or treats. You can have them available in your reception area for customers or visitors, or hand them out at community festivals and celebrations. Promotional gifts like engraved pens or ball caps, displaying your company name and logo, distributed at special events also spreads the word about your company, along with good will. Even donating leftover copy paper to a charity is a good way of helping others and possibly being noticed.
Business groups like the local Chamber of Commerce offer valuable opportunities to meet other business owners and possibly to collaborate on projects or exchange services. Membership can be a selling point that impresses prospective customers. Civic groups like Rotary and the Lions Club bring together company leaders to work together for the community’s well-being. You can also give short talks or presentations about your company’s services.
These free or low-cost local marketing strategies can effectively market your company with minimal effort to inform the local community of your presence and purpose. Take advantage of opportunities like these to establish your company in the local business marketplace.
David is an experienced marketing executive and partner at Custom Marketing. He's run marketing campaigns in the US and across the world, living over 10 years in both Europe and Latin America. His decades of experience building marketing plans and campaigns for companies such as Warner Bros and FOX, allows him to work quickly with clients to get them real results. David has a BA in International Relations from UCSB, an MBA from Boston University and is fluent in Spanish. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, 2 kids, and his pug Luna.