Keep your Business Local

Community Based Marketing and Loyalty Programs for Small Business


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Modern Marketing, an Art and a Science

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Is it alchemy or just hard work? Good Marketing Strategies get Sales, grow Businesses, build Market Share and develop your Brand. The “Art and Science” used to get there is the Magic.

If you want to increase visits to a “bricks and mortar” store or views on a website, the process is the same. By understanding the Target Market and creating strategies they respond to, you can get them to choose products and services offered by your Business. 

The “Art ” is in the Packaging and Promotion of the Product or Service. To effectively create or package products or services for a Market, you need to understand the Problems your customers have and offer a Solution. Successfully promoting the Solution, the Business and the Brand means creating and delivering content they want, including the “offer” to the target audience, where and when they want it.

The “Science” is using facts to understand the Target Market. The best way to do this is to create a customer database. One that includes customer demographics, or at the very least email addresses. Collect this information from contests, promotions or loyalty programs. Use customer data to understand how customers think, including their buying habits. Design the company website, develop newsletters and email promotions, online content and Facebook page, around their interests. 

The “Art and Science” go hand in hand. The “Science” provides the information to create the “Art”. Messages created and delivered using channels selected based on information from data analysis have more impact. They are tailored for the specific consumer. This approach works for online marketing, print advertising and brochures, television, radio, blogs, social media and even figuring out what to display in the “brick and mortar” storefront.

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Time to Tune-up your Online Presence

Big fireworkNow is the time to get ready for the New Year!

This is a good time to update your online presence, but where do you start? Your first step is to decide on your focus for 2014.

Is it to build brand awareness, increase traffic, increase market share or all the above? Your objectives determine your strategy. Based on that comes the implementation plan.

If your want to build traffic to your website, consider starting a Blog and/or being a guest Blogger. To increase brand awareness, use different social media channels to reach new demographic groups. Use promotions on your website and Facebook to increase market share. Email campaigns are great to get your message directly to your customers and increase customer retention.

Your implementation plan starts with a customer profile. Identify the type of information customers want, how they buy and the social media they frequent. Develop an editorial calendar based on the profile, choose the topics, the authors of each piece, and how often and where to publish. Select topics for content and channels based on the profile of your target market.

Then get started. Working the plan takes away the guess-work. Assign authors and publish. Use data analytics to understand the type of content that works on what platform and repeat it. Remember you can reuse content on other platforms and in different formats.

Always keep in mind your goals. You not only want to entertain but to tell your audience about developments in the business, announce new products and services, and promotions.

Happy New Year! May this one be your best yet!

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The Challenges of Marketing in Rural Areas

Close up of a small Christmas tree inside a spherical glass

My clients in rural communities use many ways to reach out to their customers. Traditional things like billboards and signage are not very effective when you can count on your fingers the number of cars that pass by. Another client just realized that being ranked Number 1 on a Google Search in her category does not help in her remote area.

So how do you get your message to this target market? Simple, deliver it directly using focused Marketing Programs. Community based marketing programs such as Loyalty Programs that focus on local businesses and customers in the surrounding geographic areas. Use a geo-targeted approach that encourages residents to frequent local businesses. For example, add location information to your posts so they are listed in searches for businesses in your area.

A great way to leverage exposure is to connect and team up with other local businesses. Do this using joint promotions, geographically targeted advertising, Multi-Merchant Loyalty Programs and sponsored events. “Like” other local businesses on Facebook and use Pinterest to promote your business, and local activities and attractions.

The Holiday Season is perfect for getting organized. Increased traffic into the area benefits everyone. Make the shopping experience special to entice shoppers to frequent local businesses. Time limited promotions, hot chocolate stations and gift wrapping tables make the process more enjoyable.

Small businesses need a different approach to successfully market their products and services in rural areas. They need focused programs that appeal to their target market and encourage them to “Shop Local”.


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A Smart Phone that is a Reward Card!

WomanWhile doing research for a client, I found a whole new way to communicate directly with customers. A software approach that lets businesses send information about the “hot deal” of the day to their customers’ smart phones.

Merchants sign up and set up the system, then input their deals, rewards and coupons. Customers down-load the app and sign up. When they are near the business, the system does the rest. It transmits the deals to their phones.

This new approach does away with Coupon Cutting and Sorting. Change promotions daily, even hourly. There is no points liability to manage and no risk for the merchant.

I immediately signed up and soon my client joined. It is an easy, effective way to communicate directly with current customers and to attract new ones. Just about everyone is interested in trying out a new app, are you?

LoyalBlocks from LocalBizconnex


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Just in Case you were wondering if being online works

To summarize:
  • Email marketing is alive and well
  • Use of smartphones to access content is up
  • Customers use blogs to research products and then make buying decisions
  • Images in posts get more attention
  • Nurturing leads results in more customers……
The marketplace has changed. Customers want to access information when they have a requirement, make a decision and then purchase at the channel that suits them the best. The challenge is to get your message to them when they want it. An effective online strategy incorporates the platforms that are used most often by your target market and delivers the type of content that they find interesting.


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The Marketing “Easy Button”

The Marketing "Easy Button"Everyone in the know, says that you need an online strategy. But, how do you develop and sustain one? Sometimes it is impossible to effectively support all the Marketing initiatives required to implement and even more importantly maintain one . You know what you think when you go to a site that has not been updated since…2000. We have all seen them.

There are many estimates as to how often you should post. Once a day, once an hour, once a month – the frequency usually depends on how much time a business can spend on Marketing. The best approach might be to post when there is a new promotion or something interesting is happening in the business.

If this is still not often enough then providing information on customer and industry trends is a good way to keep the dialog going. A good place to start is to develop a publication schedule. Next, recruit writers. If there are enough resources available some should be from within the business. If not, there are many consultants that can help you.

The same approach can be used in other areas.  Newsletters are a great way to contact your customer base. A great newsletter sent to an up to date distribution list is worth its weight in gold. Remember that your Facebook page can be used as a website, you can update it as often as you want to. Add promotions, coupons and anything else that appeals to your Target Market.

Remember that sometimes we all need to use the “Easy Button” and call someone.