As a small local business, or brick and mortar store, mass advertising and relying solely on foot traffic doesn’t make sense. Rather, building relationships within your community does. While tactics for doing this will vary depending on whether you run a restaurant, pet store, travel agent, or health clinic, one way to get your customers attention is to blog, no matter what your product or service.
The key to any kind of blogging is to post useful content frequently, as it will help your placement in search rankings. But how do you specifically target your local neighborhood, and not someone hundreds of miles away?
Build a Local Blog
Each of your posts should have a focused message that is targeted to your local audience, so before you even get started, brainstorm what’s important to your neighborhood and potential clientele. Every post you write should address some issue your local area might be interested in, or perhaps an event that is going on in your neighborhood and how your business will be participating or involved.
- Use location-specific phrases. In other words, use location-specific keywords in your posts that your potential clientele might search for. For example, local customers who search for “Mexican restaurant in Lakeview” may discover your restaurant through a blog post centered around that keyword. Or, a keyword like “Virginia mental health clinics” may direct to a blog post you’ve written about how to convince a loved one to start rehab.
- Be relevant, but have fun. If its winter time, talk about weather-related issues, like keeping your dog’s paws healthy on Brooklyn’s city sidewalks, rather than about taking your dogs to the beach. At the same time, have fun with your posts and show off your personality. Chances are if you enjoy writing the post, your clients will enjoy reading it too.
- Offer contests, coupons, and promotions. Nothing gets customers coming back to your blog and your business like fun in-store or online offers, which they can learn about only on your blog.
- Guest post on other sites and have guests post on your blog. Look for other local businesses in the area that blog too, as long as they’re not competitors, and exchange blog posts. This is just another way to extend your reach into the community.
- Ask your clients to subscribe to your email newsletters. When customers come into your store, offer an email sign-up sheet at the counter or check-out. In your email newsletter, you can link to your blog to drive even more traffic to your site.
Assess What Works and What Doesn’t
After six months, take a look at how your blog has been working. Tools like Google Analytics (which should be installed on your site before you start blogging!) can help determine what local keywords people are using to find both your website and blog. Analytic tools can also show you what content people are reading the most. Use that info to drive your blog content moving forward.
Other ways of assessing what works and what doesn’t is to see what blog posts your clients are commenting on the most. Chances are if they’re commenting, they’re interested in the topic and will be interested in reading more. Try to recreate the success of a highly-engaging blog post from the past and see how it turns out.
Blogging is an investment in you and your company. Think you don’t have the time to actively write and post? That’s okay. You can always hire an internet marketing company or content creation company to maintain your blog for you. Just be sure to be as clear as possible with them about what you want their blog to do: drive local traffic to your business.
Adrienne is a social media marketer who regularly ties in the local community with her blog posts. Follow her on Twitter at @adrienneerin to see more of her work.