Promoting your local business can be easy and effective! No, really, it’s true. While multi-national companies may have big ad budgets working to their advantage, there’s a whole host of tools and strategies that you can use to attract new customers, increase your sales, and build loyalty without breaking the bank. To help accelerate your marketing activities, we’ve identified six simple-yet-powerful ways you can promote your local business (without spending oodles of money.).
Ready to level up your local business? Dig into the list below and put into action the tactics that you believe will have the most impact on your business’ growth.
1. Reels, Reels, Reels
Reels are IN on Instagram. Whether you’re already using IG to promote your business or just creating an account, you’ll want to get into the reel game. Why? Because they are the IG algorithms’ favourite type of content and have much longer staying power on the app than stories or posts. Just as importantly, they are easy to create and can provide your followers with an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how you run your business, new products you’re creating, etc.
If you have not created your first Instagram reel yet, there are many simple how-to guides online. Here are some more tips that will help you create an engaging reel:
- Keep it short and to the point. Instagram reels can be 15 seconds up to 90 seconds long. If you opt for a longer reel, try to include a variety of videos/photos to tell a story.
- Use trending audio. How do you know if a sound/song is trending? Scroll through your reels feed daily and you will begin to notice many creators using the same sound. Make note of any sounds that have an arrow next to the song name. This arrow indicates that it’s trending! Also remember that it doesn’t matter if the audio is reflective of what is displayed in your reel OR your personal music taste. At the same time, you’ll want to ensure any sounds with lyrics are in good taste/aligned with your brand’s values.
- Don’t be too sales-y. Instagram reels are meant to be entertaining and fun – these types will get more visibility! Inform with how-tos and entertain with behind-the-scenes content but do not sell to them (that comes later!).
- Use video whenever possible. Users have the best experience viewing reels in full-screen mode. Ensure your videos are vertical and fit within the frame. Adding in horizontal videos or photos will make your post look distorted and it will not perform as well.
- Post consistently. You may create an Instagram Reel that creates a high number of views and others do not perform as well. That’s OK, keep going and do not give up.
2. Stand Out with Your Online Storefront (aka Your Website)
Your website is your online storefront and the first impression many will have of your business. As such, the experience potential customers have when they land on your website should match your in-person guest experience. This stands true regardless of whether you are operating an e-commerce store or simply using your website as a place for visitors to learn more about your business and locate your physical storefront.
Remember, time is of the essence when it comes to online impressions, with only a couple of seconds to work with before they choose whether to click away! Put these tips into action to create a captivating website into action and they’ll be more likely to stay and convert:
- Give the visitor a snapshot of who you are, what you do and how your products/services can benefit them on your homepage. Customers want to know that you are the hero/expert that can move them from pain to bliss. It’s your job to convince them as succinctly as possible and to do so without making them click around your site to figure out how you can help.
- Consider your ideal Call To Action and make sure it’s front and centre. When someone arrives to your website, what do you want them to do? Do you want them to book a free consultation? Browse your product/service offerings and make an on-line purchase? Check out your location and visit you during business hours? Use the same Call To Action button throughout your website.
- Lead with high quality photography and videography. Professional photography may be sourced from your local business or trade association. Hiring a local photographer or videographer to create assets for your business is a valuable investment. Make it worthwhile by working with your photographer to create photos and videos that are as evergreen as possible.
- Build your e-news subscriber list so you can share information, contests, new products etc. with an engaged audience. A web developer can assist with adding a plug-in to your website to make email collection easier. If possible, you’ll benefit from offering email subscribers an incentive for signing up, such as a discount code or a lead magnet.
3. Advertise with Meta (aka Facebook)
There’s a reason businesses of all sizes and across many industries continue to invest in Facebook ads: they work. Connect directly with potential customers in your geographic region by harnessing the power of one of the world’s social media giants. Meta Business Suite makes it easy to create targeted ads and reach the right audience. Start using it today at business.facebook.com
Here are some tips to help you create Facebook ads that work:
- Start with a goal. Are you looking to boost existing content, get more website visitors or promote your business locally? Before you start advertising on Facebook, have a clear goal in mind for what you want to achieve.
- Know your audience. Do you have a CRM and know the audience you want to reach? Awesome, that will make selecting your audience easier. You can target specifically by region, gender, age, demographic, behaviours and interest. If your audience is unknown or diverse, we recommend you keep your audience general to begin.
- Write a compelling headline. Easier said than done, but start by thinking about what catches your attention when you scroll through Facebook. A compelling headline may create curiosity, employ humour, and/or speak directly to the pain/bliss problem facing the targeted customer. Once you have a compelling headline, make sure you support it with a strong Call To Action that provides a benefit to the customer and creates urgency. For example, ‘Learn More’ is not a strong call to action, while “Shop Now to Get 25% Off’ provides both a benefit (25% off) and sense of urgency (now).
- Schedule the start and end dates of your ad. Based on how large your budget is, this may run for 3 days or longer. $5 per day is enough for a successful campaign!
4. Get Blogging
Blogging can help drive traffic to your website and gives you content to repurpose for social media and other marketing activities – it’s a win-win. One of the biggest challenges for smaller businesses is carving out time to write and publish blogs regularly. The good news – blogs don’t have to be lengthy or super in-depth to be effective. These tips will help you create blogs in a timely manner that your customers actually want to read:
- Keep your blogs short and to the point, but don’t skimp on providing valuable information or entertainment. Blogs that are list-based and rely on a combination of words and imagery are probably the easiest to write and hit the publish button on – aim for 250 to 500 words and you’ll reap the benefits of blogging without feeling overwhelmed!
- Create evergreen content that will not become outdated. You are an expert in your business and your blog is an excellent space to share your knowledge and provide customers with additional resources that are evergreen. They’ll feel like you care about them beyond making a sale!
- Promote your blog and let people know about it. Share it on social media, include it in your newsletter, and don’t be afraid to promote it again in 6 months’ time!
- Stick to a regular posting schedule. This may be easier said than done, so start out with realistic expectations for yourself in terms of how often you’ll blog and then make sure you set aside time to write the blogs you’ve planned. If you find yourself without the time to blog consistently, consider bringing in guest bloggers and/or outsourcing your blogging to a content writer.
- Create a punchy headline to get noticed. Again, people love humour and curiosity-based headlines, as well as headlines that speaks directly to them in some fashion, such as a reference to their career, their generation, etc. Buzzfeed has great success with listicle-style blogs – check them out for inspiration and/or search for other blogs that suit your style.
5. Partner with Local Content Creators
There are many talented content creators that are skilled in creating content that perfectly captures your brand, your team, and your services/products. An experienced content creator will help you amplify your content and generate new business leads. If there is a content creator you follow on social media, reach out to them! They may be up for a simple trade to promote your product or service.
Bear in mind that many content creators are full-time professionals (e.g. photographers, videographers, marketing experts) and, as such, they may request a fee in exchange for their services. It’s up to you to decide how much of your marketing budget you want to allocate to this type of promotional support, but it can be very valuable if you partner with a content creator that ‘gets’ you and your business.
Here are some tips for working with content creators:
- Work with someone like-minded and who aligns with your brand and values
- Determine your goals and work with your content creator to determine what you will give them and what you expect from them in return. Make sure the terms and expectations are clear for both parties!
- Ensure the content creator knows your hashtags and is tagging you properly
- Measure the success of your campaign
6. Join the Love Local, PEI Directory
We saved the best for last! Love Local, PEI exists to encourage consumers to support locally owned and operated businesses in Prince Edward Island. It highlights the many important benefits of supporting local and strives to make it easier for Islanders to put their money where their heart is – in local businesses.
With that in mind, the Love Local, PEI Directory has been designed to provide consumers with a one-stop guide for local PEI businesses. Visit lovelocalpei.ca/business-directory/ to register your business for free!
And be sure to make the most of your Love Local, PEI listing by following these tips:
- Engage with the Love Local PEI campaign and share content
- Keep your listing up-to-date, including your hours of business, contact information and any pertinent details about your products/services
- Share the directory and let others know about it through your online and offline networks
- Check out the Spread the Word section on Love Local’s website to find graphics that you can share on your page!
Once you’ve implemented these promotional tips and tools, the key is to use them consistently over the long term. You may see measurable results from some activities right away, while it may take time before you see the impact of employing other promotional activities. Stay the course (i.e. be patient) and you will reap the benefits in the form of new customers, increased sales, and a growing base of loyal followers that want to support your business over and over again!