It’s no secret that customers trust word-of-mouth above corporate advertising: according to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 53% trust content that you create and post on your website. Engaging your local audience is key to attracting new customers on a neighborhood level.
Even for national companies, the benefits of thinking local can be impressive. Drug store chain Duane Reade recently initiated a campaign to boost their New York City customer base through localization strategies that focused on user-generated content to reach new audiences. Duane Reade partnered with brand advocate bloggers who are “not actual employees, but we treat them as such [and] we offer incentives and introduce [them to] initiatives before the public” and allow them to amplify the corporate message at a local level. The result was a 28% lift in year-over-year sales, a 5x ROI, and 20 million impressions over the entire period of the campaign. “[We had] almost 2,000 pieces of original content being generated over this campaign, so it was huge for us,” said a Duane Reade spokesperson.
For any company, large or small, partnerships with local bloggers can be a powerful way of tapping into local networks and reaching potential new customers. You need to be confident in your bloggers to allow them to generate the content for you, so some sort of vetting or oversight might be necessary during recruiting and engagement phases. If you are a small business, you can do it manually. But if you have some budget, the best way to do so is create a bespoke influencer network and host it on a dedicated platform specifically designed to create such programs. The platform should allow you to recruit and engage local influencers in a sustainable way, as well as measure the impact these networks have on your bottom-line. Advocate blogging can generate locally-targeted content that resonates with their readership.
Marketing budgets are often tight and it is important that you know your resources are being well used: every dollar counts when it comes to reaching new audiences. Social networks can be invaluable for businesses wanting to make an impact locally as the only outlay to your business is your time. Don’t underestimate what a time-sink online networking can be, though. You want to focus carefully on putting your efforts into reaching your target customers.
Google+ Local is the new Google Places, and it is essential for locally-based businesses to have a presence here. Google is the world’s largest search engine and Google+ Local brings together some of Google’s most powerful features, such as Google Maps, Google+, and Google’s review and scoring capacity, into one place. Businesses that have activated Google+ Local are prominent in local searches: if someone searches Google for “Restaurants Washington DC”, the results will be biased towards the ones that feature on Google+ Local. You can list your own business details, upload photos and videos, but by far the most influential feature is customer reviews. Encourage your customers to review your business, rank it, and even upload their own photos, and watch your search engine ranking skyrocket on Google.
Advocacy is a powerful force at a national level, but if your customers are locally based, then their recommendations can be invaluable. Taking advantage of local reviews, blogs, and networks can boost the visibility for your business and get the word out to new customers. Let your valued customers do the talking for you: they are your greatest marketing asset.
Originally posted in Entrepreneur