I know what you're thinking. Good local store marking, the kind that drives traffic and adds profit to your bottom line, goes hand and hand with countless unpaid hours of man-power. It does.
A sign alone will not a profit make. Local marketing is highly important and here's why, besides the fact that McDonald's is doing it...
1) Competition: First and foremost, in this day and age competition is intense! This is especially true of the fast casual segment where there's a new concept (or 5) opening daily. And there's something for everyone with concepts ranging from Just Salads to Mongolian BBQ as done by Ghengis Grill.
In addition, many already successful brands are exploring growth via daypart expansion or new services. Chipotle just announced they will add catering for 20 - 200 to all units in the coming months as a way to grow sales.
How will you stand out, be memorable to your target?
Offering what consumers want in your immediate area is a start, but now you need to reach your target with the message. If your intention is to reach moms and families, a Little League Team sponsorship or a school fundraiser night will be noticed.
Hey, a little you scratch my back I'll scratch yours never hurt anyone if everyone is happy.
2) Targeting: While a national presence is great, I think we can all agree that marketing is not a one-size-fits all proposition.
Every state has it's own nuances and for that matter every city and even every community! A college town will require a different local marketing approach than a sleepy seaside town that only booms for a few months out of the year during tourist season.
3) Scandalous Situations: For better or for worse, social media is here to stay and everyone but everyone wants to have their say. A disgruntled employee or a simple customer miscommunication can quickly turn to bad press with the click of a button.
Businesses with a strong basis in community maintain at least some protection from potentially business busting bad press.
I recall a situation in which a rumor was started by an angry high school student at a locally owned popular Mexican franchise restaurant in small town Pennsylvania. Sales were immediately impacted and the City Mayor actually spoke to the community on the importance of disregarding silly rumors and to support our local business operators that are supporting the community through fundraisers, school donations, and providing jobs. False accusations were quickly squelched and we can roll with that kind of community reinforcement!
4) Buy Local: It would appear the more things become available on a global level, the more people push to buy local. Don't believe me? Just type "Buy Local" into your search engine and you'll find a host of Buy Local websites committed to what has truly become a movement. Be a part of that movement by ensuring you're recognized as a part of your local community.
5) Local Media: Should it be in your mix? I'm voting Yes! A recent study by Millward Brown suggested that local media definitely matters when it comes to connecting with your community, i.e. your customer base. In fact, 71% of those surveyed felt proud of the area in which they lived and 67% felt connected because they knew a lot of people within their neighborhood. This would suggest an opportunity to market on a local level utilizing that strong connection that is not felt from a National level.
DJ Endorsements can be a perfect solution to capitalize on the community tie-in. With word-of-mouth appeal, listeners feel a connection with local radio personalities that can relate to them on a personal level through radio programming.
The Radio Advertising Bureau noted that endorsements typically drive a 400% increase in response over non-endorsed spots. (Source: Robinson Radio Networks).
Of course the right message on the right station with the right DJ is critical to the success of a campaign.
Additionally, a 2011 study conducted by The Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) and commissioned by the National Newspaper Association (NNA) found this interesting data in regards to local newspaper readership:
Three-fourth of residents (74%) in small cities and towns in the United States read a local newspaper ranging from 1 day to 7 days a week; majority of the readers (81%) relied on the newspapers for local news and information.
One more great reason to spend some more time on local marketing: your customers aren't flying in, they are right around the corner.