Businesses often look at their competition and do what they do. If their closest competitor advertises in the newspaper they do it too. If their competitor is on the radio they better do that too.
But how much thought is given to what works? A lot of money is spent on advertising. It’s a large part of many businesses budgets. But the return on investment is often unknown. Part of the reason is simply that it’s difficult to track some forms of advertising. Especially when multiple forms of advertising are in use at the same time. If a customer hears your ad on the radio 20 times and sees your newspaper ad 10 times even they don’t know which advertising media was responsible for acquiring their business.
Let’s go through 7 ways to promote a local business. I’ll make the assumption that the business is seeking customers who are local. This means the customers are physically located within about 50 miles of the business. Most businesses fall into this category.
Your local newspaper offers many options with a wide range of prices. Newspapers are still very popular. Many people still read newspapers and will see your ads. This can be a quick and effective method to bring in new leads and customers.
2. Yellow pages
The yellow pages are still being used, but because of the Internet, the hard copy form is not as popular as it once was. The yellow pages are online too. You can have your business listed in both the online and offline versions of the yellow pages. The online version is one of the many online business directories that exist. You can have your business listed in it for free or you can pay for a more detailed listing with added features. My recommendation about yellow pages is to use the free listing.
3. Radio and TV
Radio and TV are certainly effective but usually more expensive than other options. When you think of radio and TV you think of branding your business. Using repetition to get your business branded in the minds of people. But this can be expensive because it takes a lot of repetition to brand a business. You can still use TV and radio to advertise in a more direct response method rather than trying to do branding. This would be more effective and efficient. For example, rather than just trying to get people to remember your business name so that they hopefully do business with you at some point in the future, have your ads directly ask for action. Ask them to call or visit and give them an incentive to do so.
4. Direct mail
Using direct mail is sometimes thought to be outdated. The Internet is the new way to advertise right? Actually direct mail is as good as it ever was. It may be even better now since fewer people are using it because of the Internet. Using direct mail in the right way can be extremely effective. The key is to mail to the people most likely to respond and to have your mail express a clear offer with a clear call to action.
5. Networking and referrals
One of the most powerful ways to acquire a new customer is through a referral. Referrals can be guaranteed sales. They pass trust to you from the person referring you. Local business networking groups are an excellent way to get referrals. Certainly friends and relatives are good examples of people who can refer your business to their friends. Events held by your local chamber of commerce are loose networking events that can result in referrals for business. Don’t underestimate referral networking if you are looking for local customers.