Local Marketing: Why You Need To Do It and How to Get Started

Liz Forment

Liz Froment is a Boston-based freelance writer who writes primarily in the finance and marketing industries. You can find more about her at lizfroment.com or @lfroment on Twitter.

Many small businesses overlook local marketing. They’re too busy getting caught up trying the strategies of Fortune 500 companies.

Following the marketing strategies of the big players is great in theory. But unless you can compete with those huge marketing budgets, you’re likely not going to see the same levels of success.

I’d guess you’re not one of those brands. In fact, most small businesses are working with less than a $1,000 a month to devote to marketing.

BrightLocal conducted a survey of over 1,000 small business owners a few years ago and found that 70% of them spend less than $500 a month on marketing.


Those numbers are understandable. Most small businesses can’t splurge on marketing campaigns.

But, at the same time, small business owners want to see more customers and sales, just like any other brand.

Where the small business owner can succeed is using the tools at their disposal. Today that’s the ability to use digital marketing as part of your game plan. It has helped to even the playing field.

Websites, social media ads, and email marketing are all tools small businesses can use to grow their businesses today. Search engine optimization (SEO) is another way small businesses can compete.

Where your small business can really make strides, however, is with local marketing.

In this post, you’ll learn a bit about local marketing and some strategies you can use to help showcase your brand to a local audience.

Local Marketing 101

Local marketing might be a relatively new buzzword in the world of business, but it’s one of the oldest methods around.

Remember the days before websites and Amazon? When you had to pick up a phone book to find an area business and you always shopped at the corner store?

That was all local marketing. With very few exceptions, the majority of companies in your area serviced customers within a few-mile radius.

Today, things are different, and yet still the same.

Welcome to local marketing 2.0.

Customers today want the same things customers wanted a generation ago. They’re looking for products or services to solve their problems and personalized service. These are things many small businesses excel at and set them apart from bigger competitors.

Realizing that and taking advantage of it on a local level can be a smart strategic move for many brands.

The problem is, many small business owners aren’t capitalizing on the potential there is in the market. This is particularly the case when it comes to digital spending.

A recent study of small business owners by Infusionsoft and Leadpages found that almost 22% said they weren’t going to spend any money at all on digital marketing in 2016.

Needless to say, that was a mistake.

You don’t have to bust your budget on expensive ad campaigns. You want to spend money the smart way, on things that drive results.

There are strategies you can use right now with the digital tools at your fingertips to start creating a local buzz for your business.

Capitalize on Local Marketing Strategies

Small business can embrace local marketing in a couple of ways to gain a competitive advantage over many larger brands.

Search Engine Optimization

Being on top of your SEO is the first place you want to start. SEO is important because it helps people find your site online.

This is key for local businesses that want to appear on the first page of search engines like Google. A lot of people (your target customers, in fact) type in their location plus a keyword when they do a search.

It looks like this:


The top three sites in the red box are going to get virtually all of the clicks. Optimizing your site for SEO means your business has a much better chance of being in that box.

You’d be surprised to find most brands aren’t optimizing their sites—and that leaves an opening for you.

Here are some quick SEO tips for your site:

  • Have a website design/theme that is responsive (meaning your site automatically reformats when it’s viewed on mobile devices).
  • Target a handful of keywords that your ideal customer will search for; these will likely be some combination of “your location” + “your service/product/brand.”
  • Have keyword-optimized title and meta tags on your entire site, both blog posts and individual pages.
  • Add pages to your website that are helpful, answer customers most common questions, and include your targeted keywords.
  • Include your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on every page of your site.

Getting your SEO in order is one of the first steps you can take to improve your marketing and get found online.

Getting Found on Other Sites

This ties in with search engine optimization and is an important component of any local marketing strategy.

Beyond your website, you also want to make sure your site is getting highlighted in other places online.

This does two positive things.

First, it increases the chances of your small business grabbing a potential customer. Second, it helps improve your search engine rankings.

For local businesses, there are a few places to jump on right away. You can see most of them in the slide below:


The first two places you want to start is to claim your business on Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. Both of these are vital directories and can help you get started running local ads online.

Having a presence on local business listing and review sites like Yelp and Manta are important as well.

So be sure to sign your business up for as many of those as you can. Don’t forget to also search for local directories as well; chances are there will be other sites available like your chamber of commerce.

Make sure you also include your name, address, and phone number (that vital NAP information) on every directory and site.

Email Marketing

Often, email marketing can be a forgotten tool for small businesses looking to market locally.

When the Infusionsoft and Leadpages study from above asked what their preferred marketing channels were, this chart highlights the results:


Email marketing came in third, just behind social media.

Social media might be hot right now, but email marketing has shown a much better return on investment, higher lead generation, and more buying power than social.

A good email marketing strategy offers many benefits for a small business by:

  • Building a list of prospective customers
  • Allows for customer connections on a regular basis through newsletters or email automation series
  • Enabling offers through special coupons, discounts, and events 
  • Providing a way to give personalized service and attention

Each of these features can keep your business top of mind with your customers, provide excellent service, and build trust. Someone who trusts a brand is far more likely to buy from them—and be loyal customers.

You can use your email marketing for very simple things that will make an impact over the long run.

Here are a few examples:

Birthday: Harpoon is a local brewery in the Boston area. Every year, it sends out a personalized birthday card to mailing list members.


Coupon: This Oregon based hotel created a campaign to send out a coupon code to their mailing list.


Special event: Three Kittens Needle Arts used Small Business Saturday as a way to drive customers to their store.


As you can see, there’s plenty you can do with email marketing, even with a small local list.

Get Local

Being able to create a marketing strategy, often with little expense, around attracting local customers is a winning formula in today’s market.

These are just a few ideas to help get you started.

Editorial Note: Fundera exists to help you make better business decisions. That’s why we make sure our editorial integrity isn’t influenced by our own business. The opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations in this article are those of our editorial team alone. They haven’t been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the companies mentioned above. Learn more about our editorial process and how we make money here.

Liz Forment

Liz Froment is a Boston-based freelance writer who writes primarily in the finance and marketing industries. You can find more about her at lizfroment.com or @lfroment on Twitter.

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