This week we look at the best ways to advertise your business locally. We look at what works well, what’s free and what costs.
There is also the opportunity for you to add your own experiences.
Word of mouth
The best advertising that you can get is word of mouth. It is free and very powerful. It is also the most elusive as it has to be earned and not bought.
There are, however, a number of things that you can do to promote word of mouth.
The first stage is to make sure that customer service is as good as you can get it. You have to remember that the customer is always right.
In some areas word of mouth can spread very fast – and this is particularly the case with local restaurants. Some of the review sites such as tripadvisor.com amplify word-of-mouth marketing and can have a significant impact on how a business can do. Don’t forget that this can be positive as well as negative.
Friend of a friend
This is a form of word-of-mouth marketing where you are offered a special offer, gift or discount for both you and your friend if you refer someone on. This may be in the form of special vouchers, etc. Ideally, the vouchers will have a time limit on them to encourage them to start shopping with you as soon as possible.
In terms of hitting the biggest audience in the shortest period of time, the local newspaper can be very effective. They have a large, committed and locally targeted audience. In many ways they run a local monopoly.
The problem is that they know it, and this is reflected in their pricing.
This can be quite an effective way to get a message out to a local audience, particularly for a new business, where it can create an awareness that you exist. Many local radio stations also have the ability to create radio adverts for you.
The downside is that it costs quite a lot of money and you will have to invest some time in getting your advert up and running. You will need to be very careful to consider the numbers of people that could actually listen to your advert (as opposed to the area that the radio station covers).
Sign on the side of a van or car
This is a very effective way of advertising a local business and gets seen as you drive along and while you are parked up. The signs can be permanent or you can also get magnetic versions that can be taken off if you don’t want to draw attention to your vehicle out of hours.
This works best if you keep your van or car clean.
Mike, who is currently decorating our offices, said that he got a customer yesterday from someone who got his number off the back of his van.
Signs on a building
A technique that has been used by builders and estate agents for years has been the sign on the outside of a building.
This can be put up on scaffolding, or on railings or even clipped onto a fence. They cost very little and can be surprisingly effective.
For some businesses providing free samples can be very effective. For example, a cheese shop could put samples of cheese that are just about to reach their sell-by date on the counter. This stops the need to throw this away.
A wine shop could offer wine tastings.
A new restaurant could go down the high street with bite-sized samples of its food. This is quite a good way of raising awareness and people will remember you for it.
Put adverts in shop windows
Often the local supermarket or the newsagent will allow you to put up an advert for a few weeks.
Many shops will let you advertise in their shop windows – particularly for local events. Many shops will let you advertise a local event for free. It helps to have a smile on your face when you go in.
Sponsoring a local football or sports club
The best way is to get your logo onto the football shirts. You may also be able to get some mileage from the local paper.
Provide a prize at a local event and go along and present it.
This can be a good way to get the message across but should be looked at more as a charitable donation than as an effective way of advertising.
Be careful giving to things such as charity auctions as there are so many donations that it is easy for your message to get lost.
Signs on lamp posts
Judging by the number of signs on lamp posts and roundabouts it looks like this method of marketing can be quite successful.
These are best for advertising an event on a particular day and will need to be taken down afterwards.
These may fall foul of local regulations and could land you with a hefty fine – particularly in urban areas. In England these are governed by the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992 Act.
These are boards that can be placed out on the street to bring people in.
They do need to be placed in an area where people don’t trip over them. Watch out, as the local authorities can get a little sniffy on them.
Relatively inexpensive and a great way of promoting your business, a uniform can be as simple as a polo shirt. You can even get cheap iron-on kits to make your own printed transfers with an ink jet printer. These also get seen as your staff walk around town going to work and on their lunch breaks.
Do you have any other good examples of local advertising?
Please let us know of your experiences in the comments box below. You can also send us photos through the contact us page.
I still think that recommendations (so called mouth to mouth marketing) is the most powerful weapon for the local business. But first you have to make people to talk about you, so i prefer Guerrilla marketing.