Local marketing campaigns can feel like endless rounds of “Where’s Waldo?” — getting granular on the beach, in the mountains, at the circus and so on, leading to blurry eyes and a fuzzy return on investment.
A 2015 study by Balihoo, a marketing automation agency, found that more than half of marketers believed the ROI of local campaigns to be higher than global campaigns, but they still only allocated 20 percent of their budgets to local.
Because local is a lot of work. Finding target customers on a national scale means you can zero in on a demographic. But finding target customers with a regional restriction means you’re crossing demographic with location, and targeting needs to be on point.
Automating local listings and AdWords campaigns is a step in the right direction, but what about the types of campaigns that can’t be robotized? How does a brand get personal from 2,000 miles away?
This post will offer four campaign ideas that optimize local marketing efforts for target customers, in target cities.
Find local partnerships with digital benefits
I’ve written previously about why brands sponsor local organizations; this means working with nonprofits or events that reach potential customers at the grassroots level.
Local sponsorships offer the kind of reach you can’t automate through an ad network. We’re talking weekend concerts and parades, partnerships with film festivals and farmers’ markets and Saturday morning 5Ks. But the marketing benefits for these opportunities extend beyond booths, swag and logos on t-shirts. Local partnerships often offer:
social media mentions;
website mentions and/or links; and
email newsletter mentions.
In fact, 76 percent of our company’s 8,000+ local sponsorship opportunities include at least one of these digital benefits.
Not all local event sponsorships require attendance. Find opportunities that offer digital benefits, and set up a specific landing page for attendees to track new customers.
Engage local bloggers
Blogger engagement success does not always entail sponsored posts or product reviews. Engagement means conversations. Reach out to bloggers in your target market, requesting their time in exchange for mutually beneficial marketing opportunities.
Give bloggers tickets to local events. Find local goings-on whose attendees intersect with your target market. It doesn’t have to be a direct match. Maybe your target customer is a college basketball fan; you could find sports-related events, or you could search out a beerfest or college alumni event.
If your team isn’t able to attend, seek out a local influencer as a potential partner to show up on your brand’s behalf. Whether or not the blogger writes about your brand, you’ll build brand presence locally.
Interview local influencers for relevant roundup posts on your own blog. Talk to bloggers about their current local needs that your product or service fills. If you’re Uber, ask about their city’s transportation options. If you’re a home meal delivery service, ask bloggers how their local friends and family members manage time for healthy dinners.
Not only may you find out about some local tips (or competition), but you’ll meet new influencers and add regionally relevant content to your site.
Build local PR connections
To grab the attention of local press, you need more than a “We live in your city” subject line. But don’t be discouraged by the difficulty of building local journalist relationships either.
Develop a region-specific brand story. Why are you here? What specific needs are you meeting in this community? When Casamatic, a home-buying startup, launched in 10 new cities earlier this year, its founders explained that they chose new locations to serve markets with a large community of millennials and a high volume of houses cycling through the market. While this may have been more of a strategic than a story-motivated move, these marketing decisions can help Casamatic’s founders tell its story to these new markets.
Meet reporters where they are, even if you can’t be there. Fourteen percent of local sponsorship opportunities offer inclusion in a press release as a marketing benefit of sponsorship, according to our ZipSprout app.
Donate a percentage of local purchases to local nonprofits
Campaigns with local nonprofits, while great for company morale, can be among the hardest to measure when it comes to ROI. This is especially true with nonprofits that work with underserved communities. But while the beneficiaries of an organization may not be in a position to purchase your product or service, people who care about the nonprofit might be.
A warning here: There are a quite a few existing apps that market to nonprofits, offering to collect donations for a fee. If you decide to go this route, take on the task of marketing the program and fulfilling funds, or else you may become more of a burden than a benefit to the organization you’re hoping to serve. On the bright side, this marketing becomes a perfect vehicle for your brand’s region-specific story, giving you another reason to say “hi” to local journalists and influencers.
Local is fragmented
If you think about it, every customer is a local customer. For brands that want to grow within a particular market, servicing all Gothamites may be a better strategy than trying to sign up the entire US at once. But finding those early adopters with only local resources can be a challenge.
Breaking a region down into its marketable parts — not simply places where you can post an ad, but also points of community congregation — can help local marketers pinpoint digital inroads to new local customers.