How to promote your business locally (14 of our top tips!)

February 12, 2021

This is Rammy is a podcast that only features news and events in and around Ramsbottom, a town just outside Manchester. It won the first-ever UK Podcasters Award for Best Places and Travel and boasts thousands of downloads per episode.

The New York Launch Pod features conversations with entrepreneurs and local businesses, with the goal of helping new business owners kickstart their companies in the Big Apple. It has also won multiple awards and been featured in several magazines.

Who would have thought that a podcast that is only about one town, could be successful? That’s because we underestimate the impact of having a local community; when it comes to promoting your business, going small is often better.

We’ve put together some top tips to advertise your business locally:

How to promote your business locally

1. Join local groups

The key when it comes to promoting your business locally is to focus on the community. People want to feel part of a group, and being part of that is what can give you a competitive advantage over international or even national companies.

Some of these local groups might be Facebook groups, online Meetups and local events. You can also join your local Chamber of Commerce, which offers exclusive benefits such as business health cover, better funding options and even roadside assistance.

Although you will need to pay a fee to join some groups, they will all allow you to attend meetings and events where you can bring exposure to your brand. They are a great way to form partnerships, build relationships with other businesses and play a larger role in your community. This is still true throughout lockdown: online and digital events are still relevant places to promote your business.

2. Run competitions and contests

Running competitions and contests are a great way to bridge the online and offline world all while increasing brand awareness. The best way to promote a competition or contest is through your social media: ask customers to post pictures on social media with specific (and local!) hashtags, and offer prizes to those who win the most referrals. Make sure to add your shop link in your bio so people know where to refer to when they want to learn more about your products.

3. Offer local discounts and rewards

The next best thing after a fun competition is discounts and rewards. A great way to encourage people to purchase and order online is to offer discounts to those who order online. Large discounts and vouchers are a great way to get customers attention. Add your city name in the hashtags and discounts so customers know it’s from their town.

4. Partner with local businesses and influencers

Look for people in your community that are well-known and have a large following. “Local influencers” won’t be a David Beckham or Richard Branson, but someone who is reasonably well known and has some sort of influence in your city. This could be a politician, an actor, a sports player, or even a well-known business such as a specific coffee shop or restaurant.

Pay your local influencer to promote your brand or partner with them for an advertisement on social media or in a video. Not only will you be exposing your brand to your influencer’s followers, but it’ll help reinforce that feeling that your business is part of the community.

5. Add your business to any local listings

Make sure you are on all the local listings in your area. This could be a registry, citations or an online version of the yellow pages. You may need to pay a small fee per citation, but it’ll help you gain more exposure to your business as well as provide links back to your website.

Another way to find listings is to check where your competitors are being linked to and see if you can gather the same links. And don’t forget to add your website, business address and contact details to Google My Business and Google Maps so customers find you when searching you up online!

6. Add your logo to vehicles

If you’ve already invested in company vehicles in your city, then why not add your logo and website address too? Adding a bit of branding is not too expensive and serves as low-cost local advertising. Every time you go for a drive, you’ll be exposing your brand to people in the area.

7. Sponsor a team or event

This could be a sports team, a school team, a chess team - you name it. Anything that is a team from your city and related to your local community, consider sponsoring it (even better if it relates to your services/industry). Sponsoring could mean an advertisement on their website, a logo on their clothes or an outdoor banner wherever their events take place.

Where to advertise your business locally for free

On a tight budget? Here are a few tips to advertise locally for free:

8. Exchange favours

One of the best ways to advertise your business for free is to exchange favours with other businesses. If you know a business that is not a direct competitor and may have a common customer base, then consider proposing a cross-promotion. This could be as small as promoting their business on their newsletter or social media, to incorporating their services within what you do.

For example, if you offer physiotherapy sessions across various locations in your city, you can partner with a small sports shop that also offers sports clothes, massage balls, etc, and even add their flyers in your waiting area. You can then tag each other on social media so both of your followers gain exposure to your brands.

The underlying theme here is building relationships and building win-win partnerships. This will allow you to keep your marketing budget to a minimum while increasing your reach.

9. Turn your shop into a QR code

QR codes make it easy to access an online shop or link. With Pomelo Pay, you can turn your online shop into a QR code for free, allowing you to promote your website and services on literally anything with a surface! This could be a flyer, an advertisement, or even on someone else’s website or newsletter.

QR codes make it a lot faster and easier for customers to access your online shop, learn about your services and even order online.

10. Take local photos

Every local community in the UK has its own landmarks and historical monuments. Why not take advantage of those and incorporate them into your brand? One way of doing this is by taking photos of the team, brand, mascot or services in landmarks around your city and promoting them on your social media and website.

You can choose to pay a professional photographer, or go the cheap way and simply take these photos yourself. Post them online and on Google listings, so people can see which city you’re in. See how Rettie, a Scottish estate agent, takes photos that include various landmarks of Edinburgh:

11. Donate to a local charity

Sure, it’s not strictly free; but you can choose to donate your own products or services to a specific charity rather than money. If it’s a strategy that makes sense, join forces with a local charity and let customers know how you’re giving back to the community. Whether it’s an annual contribution or special promotion, both will bring exposure to you and the charity’s brand.

Tips to advertise your services online

With more of us online now than ever, it also makes sense to advertise your services locally online.

12. Create content specific to your community

Remember the This is Rammy podcast? It’s a perfect example of creating content specific to a community. It’s unique, only relevant to locals and a great way to become well-known within a city. If podcasting is not your thing, you could consider producing videos, writing blog articles or posting social media content that is relevant to your local community.

For example, as an estate agent, you could write interesting content about the houses in your city: which ones survived the war, interesting facts about how houses used to be built and information on the most interesting buildings in your city.

13. Do local SEO & ads

Search Engine Optimisation is a strategy that will help you to rank higher on Google. You’ll likely have many competitors trying to rank for your services - but are they ranking specifically for your city? Instead of ranking for “vegan restaurant” for example, you can try ranking for “vegan restaurant Manchester”, or go even more specific such as “vegan restaurant Northern Quarter”.

This can be done organically through SEO, or through paid advertising such as Facebook and Google ads. By adding your services plus the name of your city or region, you are much more likely to be one of the first results if the person who is doing the research is based in your city.

14. Publish case studies and surveys

People love reading case studies and interviews from locals, as well as reading about success stories with your services. If you provide services to local businesses, you can try interviewing them and writing up case studies. Remember the New York Launch Pod? Hal has grown his podcast by interviewing local businesses and publishing success stories. People want to hear what’s going on in their community, and you can be the mediator!

That’s what we do! We regularly publish case studies on how businesses have used features such as QR codes, payment links and online ordering systems to grow their business. Our latest one features how Phoreal, a street vendor from Kingston, used Pomelo Pay to grow their revenue by 10%.

The one main advantage of being local is that you can be part of a community, something that can you give you an edge over the competition. In the age of self-isolation and the internet, people value local communities now more than ever; which is why now is a good time to focus on local advertising.