Small business owner outside her shop on her tablet and phone.
From using local SEO marketing strategies to staying involved in the community, there are several ways small businesses can attract customers locally. — Getty Images/Kentaroo Tryman

In recent years, many consumers have made a conscious decision to “shop small” and support their local business community. According to a recent Nielsen study, 12% of global consumers exclusively buy from small or medium-sized businesses. In addition, 26% of global consumers are “unintentional small buyers,” buying from small businesses when it’s convenient for them.

Consumers support small businesses for various reasons, including their reduced environmental impact, better customer service, and unique offerings that are often more sustainably sourced than big-box retailers’ products. To capitalize on both unintentional and exclusive small buyers, consider marketing to consumers who prefer to shop at small businesses with these strategies.

Emphasize your value

Marketing to consumers who are already interested in buying from small businesses sets you on the right path. However, that doesn’t mean customers will automatically flock to you — you still need to prove to them why your business is worth patronizing.

To demonstrate why your business is the best option, determine your value proposition, or what makes your business unique in its respective market. Find ways to set yourself apart from the competition to grab consumers’ attention.

Understand and target the right audience

A successful business owner understands who their audience is and knows how to market to them. While many entrepreneurs believe anyone can be a buyer, targeting the right audience will yield much better results. Instead of focusing on the number of customers you reach, focus on the quality of the customer. Learn where your target audience congregates online and in the community, and use that information to determine where and how you’ll advertise.

Pursue local SEO strategies

Localize your website to target and market to local consumers by using SEO strategies that focus on locality. This will help boost your business’s visibility on local search results. Mention your community or region frequently online and incorporate keywords and phrases that the local market is searching for.

In addition, ensure that website title tags and meta descriptions are up to date and relevant to get your business in front of the right audience, as they impact a website’s search ranking and performance.

[Read: 8 Small Business Tech Tools You Don’t Need to Pay For]

Getting involved with the local community offers opportunities to meet neighbors and establish relationships, create loyal customers, and boost business.

Use multi-channel engagement to promote

Give customers plenty of avenues to get to know your business and its offerings by maintaining a strong presence on social media. In addition, create a website or blog so that customers can find out information about your business, make purchases online, and reach out to ask questions. The more of an online presence you have, the easier it will be for customers to find you organically.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth advertising. Keep customers happy, and they’ll share their experiences with others, allowing you to reach, persuade, and convert new customers.

Stay involved in the community

Getting involved with the local community offers opportunities to meet neighbors and establish relationships, create loyal customers, and boost business.

A great way to participate is by sponsoring local groups (such as a local recreational sports team) or hosting community events (such as educational activities for children or town cleanup events). Doing so can greatly increase brand recognition and help garner more publicity for your business, getting your name out there and attracting potential customers.

[Read more: 6 Community Service Ideas for Entrepreneurs]

Nurture existing customers with email marketing

While obtaining new customers is great, it’s equally important to nurture relationships with existing customers to ensure they feel appreciated and remain loyal to your business.

Email marketing can be an effective way to maintain these relationships. Businesses can try strategies such as predictive product promotion, sending coupons on a customer's anniversary or birthday, or partnering with other local companies to offer exclusive deals.

For customers who need a bit of a push to complete a purchase, a strategy to counter cart abandonment, such as sending a reminder email that an item is still in their cart, can help bring a customer back to finish their order.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published August 30, 2022