While branding online is a great way to drive traffic to your website, don’t overlook how important local marketing is when running a business. If you cater to local customers, being a part of your community is your key to getting traffic in the door of your store, office or restaurant.

Become a Known Supporter of Your Community

Every city or town has a community. This community holds events, festivals and business meetings, and if you start participating in these, you’ll soon be considered part of the community.

The key is not having a promotional objective at the forefront of your efforts. Sure, your end goal is to get new customers, but focus on what you can provide to your community. For example, if you own a hair salon, you could participate in an event where people donate their hair to a charity like Locks of Love. Or you could collect canned goods at your retail location for a food drive.

The Altruistic Benefit

As you build your community efforts for your small business, people will begin seeing your brand’s logo around town. They’ll associate you with the positive work you’re doing, and this will help you build trust with potential customers. Trust turns to sales, so by aligning yourself with great community causes, you’re doing a great job of branding your company. So rather than taking out an advertisement to spur new sales, you’re doing good, in an effort to brand your business in a positive light.

Brainstorming How to Brand Locally

There are so many ways you can engage your local community to brand your business. Here are a few ideas to get the wheels churning.

  • Participate in local charity event or fundraiser
  • Donate items for local school events
  • Set up a booth at a community fair or festival
  • Send coupons via direct mail
  • Encourage customers to review you on Yelp
  • Host an open house or free event at your store

Tying in Social Media

Don’t forget to tie your local efforts with your social media strategy! You can use geolocation tools like Foursquare and Google Places to offer deals to customers, as well as help them discover you when on the go. Tweet and share special deals on Facebook, and encourage your fans to follow you for updates.

Make sure your profile on Yelp is updated with your company info, and monitor it for any potential negative reviews. When they do occur, respond immediately and work to resolve the situation for the unhappy customer.

What’s Working?

As you develop your local branding strategy, you’ll be able to determine which events net the best results. Tweak your plan to accommodate those activities that work best, and drop the rest.