It's no secret that the way we shop has drastically changed in the last few years.
Customers research businesses online like they're Googling a blind date - they need to know your business is trustworthy, and just as important, that you have locations nearby.
No matter how prominent your business is, people won't spend hours scouring the Internet to find a location near them. They can afford to be picky because they're now able to find the best deals at the closest businesses with the highest star rating. All that information is at their fingertips and inside the phones they're glued to all day long.
Because of these changes, we talk a lot about small businesses and their need to keep up in today's digital world. But, what about big brands with multiple locations across the country?
Well, small businesses aren't the only ones who need a local digital marketing strategy to survive. You need one, too.
- 90% of sales still happen in-store, but 9% of people will research the business online first
- 50% of consumers visit a store within 24 hours of a local search
- Forrester predicted that 40% of in-store sales will be influenced by the Internet from 2016-2021
That means people are looking for information online before they ever step into a store - they want to read reviews, see where your business is located, find out when the business is open and check out its social media profiles.
So before a customer visits your store, they’re searching online. If your locations fail to show up, someone else's will, and they will get that business.
We're not saying branding isn't important, but local marketing is where you can interact with, engage and entice local consumers.
Localizing your business’s marketing strategy will make sure you can be found when consumers are looking for businesses like yours, while it can also help build a dedicated audience of local consumers who want to interact with your brand.
How to Localize Your Multi-Location Business’s Marketing Strategy
While it might seem daunting to localize your brand's marketing strategy without diluting your overall messaging, it’s possible to create a local marketing strategy while keeping locations brand-compliant.
Here are six steps both franchisor/corporate and local owners can take to localize your brand's marketing.
1. Make sure there are clear-cut guidelines to follow and hold each location accountable
At the corporate level, or as a franchisor, make sure you have brand guidelines and branding assets you can supply to locations. You should also hold your locations accountable when it comes to brand compliance.
Violation of brand guidelines will only hurt you in the long run, since the best way to be memorable and build brand loyalty is to ensure a consistent brand image across platforms and locations.
As a franchisee or local owner:
- Make sure you have permission to market your local store(s)
- Ask if there is a local marketing strategy in place and find out how to get permission to market your location
- Ask for any branding resources you’ll need
- Read your business’s style guide and take care to read any branding rules thoroughly
- If you’re considering working with a digital marketing agency, make sure you have permission to do this as well, and send them all the branding collateral you have
2. Create regional buyer personas, and base your local marketing on helping with those personas’ pain points
Ask yourself these questions when creating a buyer persona for specific locations:
- Who is your local consumer?
- What problems do they face?
- How can you help them solve those problems?
- Are there regional idioms, events, teams or landmarks you can use to personalize your local messaging?
You can also take this a step further, creating local landing pages and give customers an idea of the inventory that’s in stock at their local store or of locally specific specials.
Remember, the best way to ensure your marketing messaging resonates with your local target audience is to tell them about all the great things that will happen to them if they use your product or service.
You should also personalize the message to them, so that it's relevant to their needs.
3. Work on your local search marketing
Create, claim, and optimize local business pages on Google My Business, Yelp, Bing Local, Yahoo! Local and important local directories.
Make sure each location's NAP is consistent across directories, business pages, and social media. Inaccurate or incorrect information will cause confusion with searchers, and could lower your search ranking.
4. Consider a local social media strategy
Some businesses allow each location to manage their social media pages. That can be tricky, but there is good news - even if you don't want each location to post to its own Facebook Page, there are steps you can take to optimize your brand's social media for local search marketing.
Here are a few steps you can take to localize your social media:
- Add locations to your Facebook Page so that they show up on a map in your profile
- Give shout-outs to locations or employees
- Remind your followers that you have multiple locations in your profile and link to the locations page on your website
5. Build location pages on your website
Speaking of which, at the very least, you should add a page on your website where people can find your locations and get directions.
Consider using a microsite for each location, so that if a local consumer is Googling "gym near me" they find yours, and the microsite shows up.
Optimize your location pages and/or microsite for local search marketing by adding your business name, address and phone number.
As a bonus, add a map or a "Get Directions" button to make it easy for people to get to your locations.
6. Get involved in local communities
This isn't a digital marketing tip, but if you want to be well-known in your community, you should get involved.
For instance, Starbucks allows its stores to donate products to local raffles, set up a booth at a charity event, etc. The company is notorious for doing things like keeping a pottery business open and supporting local businesses.
You don't need to go all out like Starbucks, though - getting involved can be pretty easy. Do a quick Google search for local events and see where you can help out. This will help get your name out there, and make people want to buy from you if you've helped them out in the past.
Whether you're a franchisor/corporate level employee or a local owner, there are plenty of steps you can take to put your location(s) on the map and bring in more local customers. Hopefully these tips provide some guidance and help.