This is especially true when you consider that half of all online shoppers performing a local search visit a local store within 24 hours, according to Yahoo! Small Business, while 72 percent visit a store that’s located within five miles of where they are, according to RevLocal. Also, 85 percent of customer engagement takes place on web and social media pages that represent local business locations, according to MomentFeed.
If local stores aren’t drawing these customers in to their specific location, they’re missing out on a huge volume of potential sales. Here are 6 tips to help you market multiple locations more effectively.
1. Master the art of local search marketing
This is a form of search engine optimization (SEO) marketing in which the goal is to rank high in searches for local businesses. For example, the owner of a local pizza joint would want to be one of the first search results when someone in his community enters their zip code and searches for “pizza restaurants near me.”
To maximize local search marketing for your locations, you’ll want to create and optimize local business pages on the main local search engines. In no particular order, these are: Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Yelp, Yahoo! Local, and Facebook. Make sure your business is categorized correctly and that your business name, address, phone number and URL (referred to as your “NAPU”) are current and accurate across all these pages. Inaccurate information may confuse search engines and lead local customers straight to your competition.
2. Devise a local social media marketing strategy
The concepts here are similar to those for local search marketing. But things can get tricky with local social media marketing because some multi-location businesses prefer to manage all social media marketing centrally instead of letting individual locations post social media messages themselves.
A few ways to get around this obstacle are to add all locations to the central business’ main Facebook or other social media page so they show up on a map, mention and feature local locations and their employees frequently in social media posts, and let followers know about your various locations in your main page profile while providing links to them.
If you decide to let individual locations post their own social media marketing messages, look into technology tools like CoSchedule. This is a calendar app that makes it easier to organize all of the social media marketing activity that’s occurring at different locations.
3. Add location pages to your main business website
There should be a tab on the homepage of your main site that visitors can click to see a list of all the different locations they can visit, along with each location’s address, phone number and directions. Also add a map to this page so customers can easily determine where each location is and how convenient it is for them to visit.
You can take this one step further by creating microsites for each individual location. This will enable locations to include more detailed information about their particular store online, such as unique inventory they might carry or specials they might be running. Be sure to optimize these individual location microsites for local search marketing.
Give location owners and managers as much leeway as you can when it comes to marketing their store
4. Create regional buyer personas based on each location’s market demographics
Stores located in different areas are likely to have customers and prospects with different characteristics and demographics. This is true whether stores are located in different parts of the country or different areas of a city.
Do some research to identify who the target customers are for each individual location. Based on this, create regional buyer personas that allow you to target your marketing messages to local customers and prospects more precisely. For example, what is the average household size and income? What percentage of residents are single vs. married? Do resident rent or own their homes? And what percentage of residents fall within broad age ranges (e.g., 19-38, 39-54, 55-73, over 73)?
5. Give individual locations autonomy to make some, but not all, marketing decisions on their own
One of the biggest challenges multi-location businesses face is localizing each store’s marketing strategy without diluting or conflicting with the company’s overall brand positioning. This involves walking a fine line between giving locations the freedom to make local marketing decisions while making sure they adhere to corporate brand guidelines and messaging.
Make sure that each location has a copy of the business’ brand style guide so they know what is -and-isn’t allowed from a branding and marketing standpoint. Beyond these guidelines, give location owners and managers as much leeway as you can when it comes to marketing their store. If their hands are tied too tightly, this could restrict their ability to take advantage of local marketing opportunities that could prove successful and profitable.
Also investigate technology tools like Nuvi, which is a brand management platform that can help you keep your brand consistent across multiple store locations. This tool also enables you to collect regional-specific data you can use to target location-specific marketing messages more accurately.
6. Designate one individual who will be the marketing liaison between corporate and each location
This marketing employee will be responsible for communicating with each location about their marketing efforts, answering any local marketing questions owners and managers might have, and making sure they adhere to your branding and style guidelines. He or she should closely monitor each location’s marketing initiatives to hold them accountable and make sure they don’t do anything that might conflict or be inconsistent with your brand standards or image.
Failing to implement multi-location marketing strategies can lead to lost sales and revenue. Talk to store owners and managers about how you can put these tips into practice to make sure each location is maximizing its marketing potential.
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