Creative Approaches to Marketing Local Businesses

Growing a small local startup into a profitable and prosperous business requires a creative mix of marketing tactics. Whether you are running a restaurant, car wash or law firm, you have three early objectives that should be the foundation of your marketing plan:

  1. Position the business in front of its target audience(s).
  2. Offer a product or service that meets a need, satisfies a desire, or solves a problem.
  3. Set your product or service (and the business) apart from its competition.

Before you can implement any of the following creative approaches, you will need the basic elements of a marketing plan in place, including your target market, competitive analysis, unique selling proposition and your marketing budget. Then you can position your product or service and distinguish its benefits from your competition through any marketing vehicle you choose.

These particular approaches offer the potential to disrupt the local market by breaking through the clutter in ways your targets could find hard to resist:

Invest in Google Mobile Advertising. Eighty-two percent of smartphone users search for businesses in their area. Google’s mobile advertising services enable you to reach these potential customers when they are on the go. When someone does a Google search for the nearest Thai restaurant in Boise, your text-based search ad could lure them in for the most flavorful meal in town.

Papa John’s Pizza, for example, has embraced mobile advertising. Fifty-five percent of its sales comes digitally, and 60 percent of digital orders comes from mobile. Advertising on smartphones is smart for local businesses.

Show Kindness to Your Prospects. Think about the needs of your clientele — apart from the product or service you sell — and find a way to serve them. Whether you are motivated by altruism or the desire to find a cost-effective guerilla marketing tactic, your gesture will be appreciated and remembered. For example, dentists who send birthday cards to their patients probably create more client loyalty than those who don’t.

Cross-Promote With Other Businesses. This Geico commercial is a terrific example of the power of cross-promotion. Geico renters insurance reimbursed a customer for his burned wardrobe, and he used the money to shop at Banana Republic. Feeling inspired? Think about similar synergies your business might have with local non-competing, but complementary, businesses. For instance, your bagel shop attracts people with discerning tastes, but you only serve breakfast. Pass out coupons at the cash register for the Italian restaurant next door that only serves lunch and dinner — presto! Through cross-promotion, you’ve helped your customers save money on fine dining while generating goodwill and possible repeat business for your shop.

Educate Your Audience With Content. You are a local auto mechanic, and you believe that an educated driver is your best customer. Given the importance of sticky website content and social media engagement, an investment in digital content could distinguish you from your competitors. This is especially true in auto repair, where trust is currency. Inspire that feeling with blog content and videos on car maintenance and repair issues. Leverage your content by posting it on Facebook or YouTube and in a monthly e-newsletter. Capture customer email addresses in the shop by offering a half-price oil change to generate a mailing list for your e-newsletter. Your content will drive engagement and increase the number online followers, enabling you to build a database that you can promote special offers to. In other words, think of content as a seed that grows into a free advertising platform. Video content is especially compelling. Consider these statistics:

  • 76.5 percent of marketers and small business owners who have used video marketing say it had a direct impact on their business.
  • 51 percent of all video plays are on mobile devices.
  • Global traffic from videos will make up 80 percent of all internet traffic by 2019.

Whether you aspire to own a local business or serve as a marketing consultant, creative marketing approaches enable you to showcase your wares without breaking your budget.

Learn more about the Boise State online MBA program.


American Express: Creative, Free Ways to Attract New Customers to Your Business

Entrepreneur: 7 Creative Strategies for Marketing Your Startup on a Tight Budget

The Balance: 101 Small Business Marketing Ideas

The Balance: How to Create a Small Business Marketing Plan

Google: Use Mobile Advertising to Reach Customers While They’re On the Go

HubSpot: 42 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know in 2017

Business Insider: Papa John’s Thrives After Embracing This Hot Tech Trend

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