5 Advertising Tips for Small Local Businesses

The average small business spends approximately 8% of their annual profit on advertising. This doesn’t seem like a huge chunk of money and, if done right, it doesn’t need to be. Advertising comes in many different forms and in today’s world, much of that is geared toward the online market. But what about small businesses? And more specifically, small local businesses. Those “Mom and Pop” shops that are tucked away in tight-knit communities where word of mouth is as good as gold. If you own this type of small business your advertising efforts will look a little different than your conglomerate counterparts. Here are five ways to successfully market your small business within your local community.


1. Attend Local Events

Advertising within your community starts with creating a presence. If the locals don’t know you’re there, they can’t patronize you. This means taking every opportunity you can to get your name out there and show your face. If your town is hosting an event where local businesses are invited to set up tables, hand out information and samples or sell products, you need to be there. And that doesn’t mean sending employees to stand behind the table and smile. You, the owner, need to be there. Shaking hands, making connections, and selling both yourself and your brand. The same holds true for nearby town events. Don’t narrow your scope to the parameters of just your town. Although your local community is your main target audience, you can still appeal to nearby towns and their inhabitants. Attend as many functions as possible within the local area. You only have one chance to make a first impression and this just might be it.


2. Meet and Greet

There’s nothing better than putting a face to a name when it comes to business. If you have the opportunity to meet your customers, or potential customers, shake their hand and make a connection, you need to take it. There’s something about seeing and meeting the owner of a business that puts a customer’s mind at ease. Just knowing you’re physically on site, with your hand in the action, creates a sense of trust and reliability among your customer base. You’re also the person they’ll come to with questions or concerns. A handshake between a small business owner and a customer is as good as gold in the business world. Try spending as much time behind the counter as you can. Introduce yourself by name and ask how their experience in your store was.Thank them for coming, encourage them to return, and suggest they tell a friend. A little personal interaction goes a long way when it comes to promoting your small business.


3. Paper Advertising

There’s no denying that at least a part of your advertising should be geared toward an online market but when discussing your small business, don’t underestimate how far paper advertising will get you. Depending on the nature of your business, you can hang flyers at other nearby establishments that are willing to help promote what you do. This ties into networking (more on that later). Brochures are especially good if your business offers a lot of different services or products. Display these materials on your counter or hand them out during your grand opening or other promotional events. Business cards are the perfect way to advertise quickly and simply. Keep a stack in your pocket and hand them to anyone you encounter who seems interested in what you have to say. It’s important to avoid being overly pushy or overbearing. Don’t push yourself or your materials on anyone but be conscious of opportunities that may arise. Another great way to support the locals while also gaining exposure is to sponsor sports teams or other school activities. Often times, the team or organization will display your business name and contact information on their tee-shirts, banners or flyers. This gets your name out into the community and shows that you support its youth.


4. Offer Specials and Giveaways

Who doesn’t like free stuff? By offering promotions, freebies, and giveaways at your store you’re getting people in the door and that’s always your main objective as a small business owner. Chances are, once a customer gets into your store to receive their free gift, they’ll walk around, mingle, and do some additional shopping. Even if a fraction of those people who show up for their free gift make another purchase, you’re still ahead of the game. And even if they don’t make a purchase that day, they can still see the products and services you offer and are likely to keep you in the mind the next time they need something. Reward programs are another awesome feature. Whether it’s a punch card or a membership card you scan, offer some type of incentive. For every 9 purchases a customer makes, they get the 10th one free. Of course, the rewards you choose will depend on the type of business and what you sell. Also, try adding something small and useful to your packaging. Something that leaves a positive, memorable impression with your customers. Get creative!


5. Network

Of course, there will be some competition between you and other local businesses similar to yours. That’s all part of the game. But, there should also be a certain level of support and good will amongst local businesses. You can achieve this in a number of ways. If your business doesn’t sell a specific product or service but you know of someone locally who does, you can refer them. And it doesn’t hurt to have the customer tell that business owner that you sent them. Try placing your business cards on the counters of other businesses in town and allow them to do the same. If a business similar to yours runs out of a product that you have an abundance of, the right thing is to share what you have. You can also try a buddy marketing campaign, where you pool your resources to create a promotional pamphlet or event. Not all business owners choose to operate this way. Some people are of the mind that it’s every man (business) for themselves. Sure, this is one way to go but at the end of the day, word of mouth is king and when the community learns that you’re only out for yourself, they may not take too kindly to that idea.


Local communities share a sense of unity that’s hard to find other places. Local residents feel invested in their town’s success and protective of one another. It’s this sense of community that you, as a small business owner, need to tap into. Gear your promotional efforts at appealing to the heart of your community. Show support to other local businesses, organizations, and events. Leaving a personal touch on your product or service will leave a positive mark on your customers and almost guarantee they return in the future.


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