• Gary E. Mincer

7 Proven Strategies to Build Your Brand Locally

If you own a local business, you might feel like David going up against the Goliath of big national brands. However, in recent years, shopping locally has become popular with consumers. They know that more of their money spent at local businesses stays in their community, making it a better place. That’s why 90% of customers shop at a local small business at least once a month.

But just because you’re a local SMB (small or medium-sized business) doesn’t mean that these customers will patronize your business. To have a successful local company, you need strong, consistent brand marketing. Sure, you may not always be able to match the big national brand’s marketing budget. But you can beat them with a powerful, effective local branding campaign.

You are different from the big, impersonal national brands and to today’s consumers, that’s a good thing. All you have to do is construct a strong, consistent local brand that reflects your place in the unique community you serve.

What is Local Branding and Why Does It Matter?

So what exactly is local branding? And why should you bother with it?

Local branding is similar to regular old branding in that it starts with the same elements--a logo, a strong message, company values, etc.

But what makes it different is the emphasis on being part of the local community. Local brand marketing is leveraging that unique place in the community as a benefit, rather than a detriment.

What Does Branding Have To Do With Local SEO?

Local branding isn’t just about showing consumers that you’re different from the big brands. It’s about dominating Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

The physical location of your business matters to SEO because when people search for shops, restaurants, and services, they look for one that’s nearby. Google wants to give people the best results of their search, including what companies are physically close and have a good reputation. Local branding achieves these goals, meaning you will rank higher on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Part of branding is building an online reputation for your business. Things like reviews, backlinks, and social media all influence SERPs. These kinds of things are SEO best practices for all companies, not just local ones. But for community businesses, there should be an added focus on your geographic location.

These are the sort of things should you be doing in order to boost your local SEO:

  • On-page optimizing for local keywords

  • Citation building in local publications and community directories

  • Link building on local websites

  • Optimize your Google My Business Profile for local searches

Know Thy Enemy

Small businesses usually feel like they’re the “little guy” up against the giant national companies. But don’t forget about your local competition, either. To really outflank your local competition, you need to know thy enemy. Do your research and monitor what your local business adversary is doing (and what they are doing that works.)

And once you know them, you can take them down by following these 7 tips.

7 Ways To Build Your Local Brand

Target Research

Local Brand Research
Local Brand Research

Before you begin any branding campaign, you need to do your research.

To create a successful brand, you have to learn about your customers, their needs, their pain points, and how you can uniquely help them. For local research, you also need to define how large of an area you serve, how competitive your local market is, and what your competitors bring to the table.

Reviews and Links

As we all know, building an online reputation is equally as important as building a “real world” reputation these days.

Your local business’s online reputation is comprised of reviews on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google, along with backlinks from authoritative sites, established social media accounts, and your website SEO. If you optimize all of these factors, Google will have you at the top of their SERP in no time.

Reviews are one of the most effective ways to build a great local reputation. 97% of consumers read online reviews before choosing a business and 93% say that reviews impacted their buying decision. With stats like that, it’s pretty clear that you need to focus on encouraging your happy customers to leave online reviews.

Be Creative

Exceptional, effective branding is never boring or passé. It is exciting, new, and creative.

People are drawn to creativity because it’s intriguing, for better or for worse. Make it for better, in your case, by being inventive and original in your branding. Stand out with funny ads, a catchy jingle, or a unique commercial premise. You can even get people’s attention with a celebrity endorsement! Use a well-known, local personality or, if you can swing it, a big-name national celeb with ties to your area or business.

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to brand outside the box.

Community Involvement

Local consumers are savvy. They can tell what businesses actually care about their community, and which ones just care about looking like they care about their community. If you want to build a strong local brand, you need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk by giving back to your community.

Giving back helps make your town better. But it also shows your commitment to the local area and familiarizes more people with your brand. It’s also great PR for your company, and you might even get some backlinks from other groups involved, which will boost your SERP position

Here are some community involvement ideas:

  • Donate a portion of your profits from one month to a local charity

  • Sponsor a sports team

  • Create a scholarship for a local high school senior

  • Sponsor (or co-sponsor) a local community or charity event

  • Get involved in local government or the Chamber of Commerce

Show Your Know-How

One of the reasons consumers choose local businesses is because they expect a level of expertise they might not be able to find at the big national brands. But how do you demonstrate this expertise online? With useful, valuable content.

According to marketing guru Neil Patel, content marketing is “a long-term strategy that focuses on building a strong relationship with your target audience by giving them high-quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis.” That means providing great content through blogs, social media, infographics, ebooks, or videos.

Your content should simultaneously show your expertise and provide useful, helpful information to your audience. Not only does awesome content direct clicks and views to your site, it also establishes you as a local expert that clients are sure to turn to when they need your services.

Don’t Forget About Traditional Media

Local Branding
Local Branding

Sure, digital media advertising is all the rage right now. And there’s no doubt that new media can be an effective tool for local branding. But according to Marketing Week, too many companies are undervaluing traditional media like TV, radio, and billboards. Though most companies don’t know it, TV, radio, and newspaper are the three most effective means of marketing.

That means that if you’re forgoing all traditional media to advertise your local brand, you’re making a huge mistake. Optimizing your traditional media strategy is a key way to direct local leads to your company.

And while it’s important not to forget about traditional media in favor of an entirely digital marketing strategy, it’s also important to use all of the opportunities available to you to share your brand. It’s not about only using traditional media, or only using digital media. It’s about finding the perfect balance of the two for your company. Finding the right media mix for you means reaching the widest audience of qualified leads while making the most of your marketing budget.

Consistency Is Key

All of the above tips and tricks are very important aspects of local brand marketing. But perhaps the most important thing to remember with local branding is consistency.

Branding is a long-term marketing strategy. When you commit to your brand, you build awareness of your company and values. That way, when people need your services or product, your company is the first one they think of. Your brand should be infused in everything your business touches--your website, your logo, your office, your packaging, etc.

The biggest mistake SMBs make is branding inconsistency. If they don’t feel a branding campaign is immediately successful, they will discard it and move on to another idea. But this is actually harmful to your company’s long term brand identity. You need to construct one cohesive branding message and style guide that you implement throughout every aspect of your company.

Need proof? Just think about national companies that have stuck with the same brand marketing for years. For instance, take Progressive Insurance’s Flo or the Geico Gecko. These companies have stuck with the same branding campaign and it has yielded big results. These campaigns have entered the social lexicon and are part of our culture. That means Geico and Progressive have huge brand recognition--all thanks to consistency.

If you constantly switch up your marketing message, you’re missing out on that recognition.

Plus, brand consistency helps boost your SEO. The more consistent your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are throughout your online profiles, the higher you will rank. And according to marketing powerhouse Moz, inconsistent NAP can negatively affect your ranking.

Want to see what inconsistency will get you? Check out our blog on 6 Surefire Ways to Have a Crappy Local Ad Campaign.

Need Help Building Your Local Brand?

Competing with big national brands is tough. You have a limited budget and time, while they can throw millions at ad execs. But if you capitalize on your local brand, the national companies don’t stand a chance. Use these tips and you are sure to cultivate a consistent, powerful local brand in no time.

Think your company needs a bit more help? Call or email The Mincer Group today to discuss ways to leverage your local company’s brand to beat the competition--big and small.