Local business owners employ various strategies to maintain a steady flow of customers. While some of these result in success, others do not. Unfortunately, several such business owners tend to overlook one important aspect, that of local brand management. No matter whether you run a restaurant, a boutique, or an auto repair shop, getting your brand management on track can help your business attract and retain scores of new customers.
The Benefit of Being Local
When it comes to brand management, local businesses have some distinct advantages over their global counterparts. For example, local brands tend to have more opportunities to discover the needs of their target audience, all the more so when they deal with them in person. Local brand management also benefits significantly from word-of-mouth because satisfied customers tend to share their positive experiences with friends and family. Local businesses may also benefit by partnering with other local businesses, creating a win-win situation for all involved.
How Local Brand Management Works
There is more to local brand management than running ads on social media and offerings product giveaways. Given the fast-paced world we live in where consumers have access to most of the information they need through the internet, it’s important that local businesses follow a multi-pronged approach. For instance, even local businesses may benefit by looking at how digital branding can help boost growth.
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Carry Out Market Research
A good local brand manager will start by identifying your target audience and understanding what it wants, and then move to devising a suitable marketing strategy. Missing this crucial step will, in all likelihood, result in a campaign that fails to deliver desired results. The various aspects that require attention when carrying out market research include:
- Size of the local market you serve
- Number of competitors and their unique selling points (USPs)
- How far people are willing to travel to buy your products/services
- Ideal customer’s profile (age, income level, education level)
Carrying our competitive intelligence (CI) is also an important part of local brand management. This involves collecting and analyzing information that you gather about your competitors and other market factors with the aim of gaining a competitive edge.
Find the Right Message
Connecting with local audiences requires that you remain consistent with your messaging. However, it’s crucial that you find the right message first. The message you convey should ideally touch upon aspects such as what your brand stands for, its USP, and the benefits you have to offer. Depending on the message you wish to convey, its tonality may vary from humorous, to professional, to quirky. In addition, just about every message you put across should come with an effective call to action (CTA).
When arriving at the message you wish to convey, you should tailor it in a way that it appeals to your target audience. When it comes to spreading the message online, including your location in your messaging would help probable customers in your vicinity find your business with ease.
Build Local Partnerships
Partnering with other local brands that complement your business or align with your objectives can help both in attracting new customers. One way to go about forming new partnerships is to join local community service groups or chambers of commerce. You may consider partnering with local groups that support different social causes and helping them in any way possible. While this would show that you’re giving back to society, it may also help portray your brand as one that people can trust.
The efforts and results of your partnerships do not have to limit to the brick-and-mortar world. For instance, if the business you partner with also has a website, both might benefit by driving backlinks to their respective websites. Once you increase engagement levels with other local businesses, you may expect your target audience to view your brand as one that is trustworthy as well as authoritative.
Connect With the Community
Businesses that cater to relatively small geographical locations – be it a small town or a suburb – should focus on building trust and long-term relationships. Bear in mind that public perception has a significant impact on local businesses, which is why you need to go that extra mile to show your customers you care about them. Successfully connecting with the community in which you operate requires that you listen closely to feedback, respond to messages in a timely manner, and resolve problems as quickly as possible. By providing excellent customer service, you may expect to earn your customers’ trust and loyalty.
Use Social Media
Using social media can go a long way when it comes to local brand management. With a host of social media platforms from which to choose, local businesses get different ways to connect with their target audiences. These platforms increase the exposure that your brand gets in the online world, and they also help drive traffic to your website. In addition, local businesses may use social media to develop loyal fans.
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Businesses may use social media to get insight into what their customers want. Given that this medium helps you connect with your audience in an engaging manner, you may go on to build lasting connections.
Think Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) remains among the top online tools in increasing brand awareness and generating new leads. When people look for local businesses in their vicinity, it’s important that your business shows up in relevant online search results. Using the services of a good digital marketing agency that specializes in local SEO can help improve your brand’s visibility in online searches. When this happens, you may expect a steady flow of new leads.
Among the first things you may expect your local brand manager to do is claim your Google My Business page, and verify your address and phone number. Paying attention to your website is equally important because it serves as the backbone of your online presence. To increase its visibility in online searches, it should:
- Have a mobile-friendly design
- Have fast loading speed
- Use on-page and off-page optimization
- Use localized keywords
- Include internal and high-authority external links
Offer Localized Content and Promotions
Offering localized content and promotions gives your business the ability to connect with its target audience in an easy manner. When you provide localized content, you essentially offer information about your business and its products/services that people may find when they carry out area-specific searches using Google and other popular search engines. Time-based promotions make for a tried-and-tested method when it comes to achieving quick short-term gains. One easy way to spread the word in the online world is by using Google Posts. These give you means to engage with your customers and they also let you provide details about your business and its promotional offers.
Build Online Reputation
Brand reputation management is just as important for small businesses as it is for large businesses, all the more so in the online world. According to local SEO statistics collated by HubSpot, people looking for local information account for 46% of all Google searches. 97% of people learn about local businesses online than anywhere else. In addition, 78% of location-based mobile searches lead to offline purchases. These numbers highlight the importance of managing your brand’s reputation well.
Data released by Trustpilot highlights the importance of reviews in building online trust. It suggests that nine out of ten people read online reviews before making purchase decisions. It also points out that more than 60% of consumers will not buy from businesses that censor their reviews. As a result, if your business has a poor rating or only a handful of reviews, it is possible that your audience will look elsewhere.
Ways to manage your brand’s online reputation include, but do not limit to:
- Encourage customers to post online reviews
- Monitor online reviews
- Provide answers promptly
- Address negativity quickly and effectively
- Own up to mistakes and take remedial measures
- Monitor search engine results
- Develop a crisis management strategy
- Use paid and earned media
How Local Brand Management Can Help Boost Your Business
If you look at any of the top local branding examples, you’ll notice that they come with multiple benefits. Besides, just how effectively you manage your branding may have a significant impact on how your business performs in the long run. Here are the main benefits of getting your brand management right.
Build Authority and Visibility in Local Markets
A good branding agency understands the importance of building authority and visibility in local markets. If your business shows up on the first page of online search results, it goes to show that your brand fares betters than most of its competitors. The more the number of relevant keywords your business ranks well for, the higher the visibility you may expect. In addition, when your business consistently shows up in top online search result positions, it also helps build authority.
Increase Brand Recognition
A strong brand helps increase recall value, and this helps promote brand recognition. This essentially means that when consumers are looking for products/services related to ones your business offers, they find it easy to recognize your brand. When this happens, you may expect your target audience to favor your brand over its unrecognized competitors even if they know little about your business.
Show That You’re Aware and You Care
A significant aspect of a local brand manager’s job profile is to ensure quick responses to online customer reviews and comments on social media platforms. When people look for businesses online, one aspect that draws particular attention is the reviews and comments written by customers. However, while consumers wish to look at what the customers of any business have to say about it, they also pay due attention to how businesses respond.
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How you reply to your customers’ reviews and comments, especially the negative ones, plays a crucial role in how the online audience perceives your business. When you take time to reply to all your customers and handle negativity with tact, it shows that you listen to and care about your customers. If you, on the other hand, don’t reply to your customers or are frivolous when dealing with unhappy customers, you may expect people to view your business as disinterested or digitally unaware.
Make Feedback-Based Improvements
Another way in which your business might benefit by turning to local brand management is by making changes based on your existing customers’ feedback and suggestions. For instance, if you run a coffee shop and frequently find customers asking if you might add more variations or a more elaborate snack menu, that might be the way to go. Remember that listening to customer feedback and implementing suitable changes can not only help in retaining existing customers but attracting new ones as well.
Small businesses may look at what their customers have to say in their online reviews and comments and take a cure or more from there. This becomes a little challenging for mid-sized and large businesses that deal with multiple locations because identifying specific trends can be a problem.
Local businesses stand to benefit greatly if they employ the right tactics in managing their brands. No matter which industry you belong to, you need to start the process by carrying out market research, as this step gives you an indication of what might work well for you. Making sure you get your message across to your target audience in the right manner will help your cause. This is also the case if you build partnerships with like-minded or complementary businesses in your vicinity.
Since a large part of getting local brand management right relates to the online world, it’s important that you devote adequate time and resources toward this medium. Be it creating a user-friendly website or using different social media platforms, being able to connect and engage with your audience over the internet is crucial. If you’re unsure about what the process entails or how to move forward, partnering with a good digital agency might be in your best interest.