During a long drive through rural North Carolina last month, my wife and I stared at countless billboards and makeshift roadside signs touting the local products and wares of that particular area. While the outdoor advertising world has to compete so heavily for audience attention in a heavily-trafficked area like Times Square, out in the North Carolina countryside-this might be the only game in town. Got a concert coming up? Better get a billboard. Selling fresh watermelons on the interstate-you ain't using television or. So it's all an outdoor game, right? As marketers we must recognize the development and continuous growth of local advertising tools that have been around for a while but are growing.
While there may be more, there are certainly three areas that have grown exponentially for marketers in terms of targeting those hard-to-reach local audiences. We've seen tremendous growth for our brands in these local and hyper-targeted areas-with the ability to drill down to zip code and DMA levels.
Geo-fencing is probably the least understood of the options just because the technology is still growing. Basically we are talking about location-based services that utilize GPS coordinates to sends messages to smartphone users who enter a defined geographic area. Whether you are in an arena, a mall or even an amusement park-what better way to send a sales promotion or a special offer than a timed and relevant message? Might be hard while you are driving, because the customer is only in the zone for a short amount of time-but think about an epic L.A. traffic jam! In a great article in CIO Magazine, Lauren Brousell pointed out how the VP of online, mobile and social at 1-800-Flowers, Amit Shah, used the technology to basically create a "click-through map and opens to show your location and how to get [to the store]" during a flowers sales promotion. The ability to integrate geo-fencing into an existing app is something that many companies have begun to experiment with as well as they delve into the world of trying to compel folks into stores-both online and offline.
2. Local SEO
While this is certainly the oldest and most saturated of the ways to get to your local audience, there are ways to continue to try and optimize the results of local search traffic. If you haven't already read it, Casey Meraz at Moz.com put together his definitive guide to a local SEO audit and it's a must read to check that all of your potential SEO tools are firing on a local level. Certainly the aforementioned watermelon stand on the side of the road would have a hard time drilling down watermelon traffic search terms, but there are myriad industries that could afford a stronger SERP ranking.
3. Facebook Local Awareness Ads
Facebook is always looking to help the marketer find better and smarter ways to target customers and no tool is stronger at getting a specific footprint covered than local awareness ads. Using their advertising tool, marketers can create local awareness ads that promote in certain geographic zones to better target an audience. Within that targeting you could run sales promotions, employ coupons or simply advertise an event. When customers in the demographic you overlay are on their Facebook apps, the advertisement can and will be served. This allows for a great level of targeting and certainly affords you the luxury of the hallowed "hyper-targeted" ad.
While roadside signs will always be king when it comes to selling watermelons or promoting a local yard sale, marketers must be aware that there are always new and fresh ways to target audiences. With the help of these three tools, we can all better leverage those emerging spaces and reach the customers we want and need.