For small businesses that are just getting started, and for those already in operation but seeking to move up to the next level, there's nothing more important than marketing. It's the main way that consumers will discover their products and become the loyal customers they need to thrive. The biggest obstacle for most small businesses, however, is finding a way to differentiate themselves from the competition – especially now that the internet has erased the traditional borders of trade.
In Australia, businesses do have one ace up their sleeve that can be used to gain a marketing advantage. It's the fact that Australians overwhelmingly prefer to buy locally-made products. That means small businesses here can orient their marketing to highlight their local bona fides and gain market share without changing much else. Since the internet is now the primary marketing channel that most businesses rely on, it's not even all that difficult to accomplish. Here's what to do.
1. Embrace Local SEO
Most small businesses with any kind of online presence should be aware of the tried-and-true practice of search engine optimisation (SEO). What many may not know, however, is that it's possible to optimise a website for local search users. Through local SEO, businesses can make sure that audiences in their geographic area will see their content and know that it's coming from a nearby business. For Australian companies, it can be a major key to increased sales and a healthier bottom line. To do it, start with the following tactics:
- Claim your business on Google My Business and add as much relevant information as possible.
- Get listed on as many local directories and citation sites as possible.
- Build a user review plan to encourage customers to leave positive feedback that other locals can see.
With all of that done, a business will be instantly more visible to local consumers and should begin to see increased site traffic and business inquiries.
2. Localise Branding
Another important and effective way to take advantage of consumers' preference for local products is to reorient your branding to include location-specific imagery and language. Doing so lets consumers know that you're a local business, and sets the entire tone for the user experience with the company. For an example of what to do, check out the website of local mattress firm Ecosa. As you can see, the page is Sydney-specific, and clearly associates the brand with the city. They don't stop there, however.
Now, go back to that URL and replace the word Sydney with Melbourne or Brisbane – or any other major Australian city for that matter. You'll notice that the page's content changes to reflect the specific location indicated in the link. That allows Ecosa to target each city with a localised version of their page, which is a way of linking their brand right to any locale they're targeting with a marketing push. It's a perfect example of hyper-local marketing, and it's a great way to maximise the effectiveness of local marketing.
3. Target Social Media Efforts
There aren't many small businesses that don't yet have some kind of social media presence, and it can be a useful channel to get messages out to existing customers and potential ones, too. To make the most out of a social media effort, however, it's a good idea to target it specifically at the local market in a few important ways, such as:
- Hosting local events and promoting them on social channels
- Creating a posting schedule that's in sync with peak local social media usage times
- Offering location-specific giveaways and promotions for followers
- Posting relevant localised content like community news
In short, the goal should be to utilise social channels to establish the business as a valued member of the community, not just another commercial enterprise. Doing so will enhance its reputation and encourage local consumers to interact with – and hopefully patronise it.
Think Local, Thrive Local
By putting a greater emphasis on local marketing and adjusting branding and social media tactics, Australian small businesses can reach audiences that are champing at the bit to find them. It's a rare case when user preferences seem tailor-made to suit business interests, so it would be silly for businesses to not use it to their advantage. Plus, when local businesses thrive, it's good for the whole economy. There's no downside at all – so all that's left to do is for Australian small businesses to make a plan, go local, and reap the rewards of their efforts.
About the Author
Andrej is a dedicated writer, digital evangelist and a freelance writer. He is a contributor to a wide range of business and technology-focused publications, where he may be found discussing everything from neural networks and natural language processing to the latest in smart home IoT devices.