Marketing and advertising underwent major changes in the past years.

Not long ago, companies were dropping serious cash for highly-coveted radio and TV spots. The number of billboards and magazine ads determine the brand’s success.

These days, hyper-targeting and personalization are all the rage. Emails, SEO, and online ads are examples that spring to mind. They show the most relevant ads and pages to people based on their interests and search queries.

These tactics have shifted marketers from focusing on casting a wide net to highly relevant targeting. They are more concerned with launching targeted campaigns based on people that fit their demographic.

Therefore, if you want to attract local customers, you need to think big by thinking small!

In this post, you will learn different tactics to help you reach local customers about your brand. They will require you to take a deliberate approach in building a campaign that satisfies your target audience.

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Why small businesses always have a fighting chance against bigger brands

Believe it or not, brands no longer matter as much as they did a few decades ago.

Don’t get me wrong, brand loyalty remains a thing as long as brands keep their customers happy.

However, 25 to 50% of a brand’s highest paying customers also shop at competitors.

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What this study shows is a chance for small businesses to destabilize the market. Taking the fight to conglomerates, however, is an uphill battle.

You’re facing businesses with deep pockets and a marketing team at their disposal. Your brand probably only has one overworked person developing and implementing a plan.

But again, branding success is not about how much you spend or how many people in your organization are. You can launch a well-thought-out campaign that taps into hyper-targeting and personalization. It will help your business tremendously at a fraction of a cost!

And what better market to target than local customers?

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For them, nearer is better. Location equates to convenience, which leads to more customers. If you can make this case to them, then you’re on the path to branding success!

Therefore, you can make a difference with your brand by promoting it the right way. Just because you’re up against big companies that have more resources than you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make a name for yourself. All you have to do is follow these tips.

Know your target audience

We all know that part of building a successful business and blog is knowing who exactly your potential customers are. Same goes with branding. You can’t build a successful brand without knowing who you’re trying to reach.

The key to really knowing who your target audience is to be as specific as you can possibly be.

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You want to have a solid picture of who your consumers are so that you can build a brand that they can easily relate to.

You can start building your consumers’ profiles by knowing their age, gender, location, income level, and education level. If you want to be more specific you can also look into your buyers’ journey, pain points, and motivation.

Identifying your target audience will help ensure that you create a brand that is specifically targeted towards people who will benefit the most from your products, services, or content.

Create a brand story

Even though your competition has more resources at their disposal, you can always bank on your unique selling proposition to turn onlookers into paying customers. Your USP consists of products, services, as well as benefits that only your company can offer.

There are many ways to communicate your USP, but according to experts, one of the best ways is through storytelling.

Telling a story sets you apart from your competitors because it gives you the chance to inject your personality in it. That way, you connect with your customers on a more personal and emotional level.

Before you craft your brand’s story, it’s essential to know what your customers are looking for in a brand. Using a social listening tool helps because it notifies you about the conversations happening about your brand and keywords related to your business. That way you know what to highlight in the story you’ll share.

Next, you’ll need to come up with a way to tell your customers your brand story. Including this to your About Page is a start, but it isn’t enough. You need to present this in a way that’s both appealing and engaging.

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Screenshot taken from @HubSpotLife’s Instagram account

One way is by sharing photos and video of your corporate events and behind-the-scenes on social media.

HubSpot, for example, created an Instagram account aptly called @HubSpotLife as their way of sharing their brand story. Here, you get a glimpse into their corporate culture as well as the different personalities behind their brand.

Develop your brand’s assets

Aside from your USP, you also need to create visual assets to make your brand stand out.

Brand assets like a logo, tagline, and color scheme will not only reinforce your brand’s identity, but they also help you get noticed by your target audience. After all, you only have one chance to make the right first impression.

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These visual assets make up your brand’s identity and will appear on everything that is related to your business. This is why it’s important that you invest time and money into making exceptional visuals that clearly represents the values that your brand stands for.

Developing brand assets ensures consistent delivery of your message across all channels.

Research what other niche-related brands are doing

They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. But when you’re trying to make a mark in the cut-throat business world, you’re not going to survive merely by imitating what others are doing.

Instead, you can learn a lot by researching what other brands have done well in the past.

Your goal is to differentiate your brand from the competition and not be a cheap replica of someone else. Study how other brands built their identity and see how you can improve on their methods or techniques. At the end of the day, you need to convince your target audience to choose you over them.

When it comes to researching the competitors, you can use Mention to monitor them online. Check out their sentiments on social media and keep track of their mentions on blogs.

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Use the information here to find out what works and what doesn’t in your industry.

Knowing how other companies have built their empires will help you come up with a brand identity that your target audience will easily recognize and remember.

Take your brand places

For your brand to “stick”, it’s important that you incorporate it in everything that your target audience can see. From printed business cards and signages to social media platforms, your branding should be visible wherever your target audience is.

There’s no denying that social media is where most of the action happens. For small business owners and bloggers, social media isn’t just a marketing tool, it’s also a place where they can make themselves more accessible to their customer base. So, you see, choosing the best social media networks to be on is just as pivotal as automating your social media marketing efforts.

Incorporating your brand in all your offline and online marketing efforts doesn’t just show your consistency, it also helps you increase brand awareness.

Build a tribe

Do you know what your secret weapon is to promoting your brand? Your own followers of course!

Take Apple, for example. Despite the negative reviews, hoards of avid fans were still willing to spend the night waiting to be among the first to get the iPhone XS. Even the rains didn’t dampen their patience.

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Source: Cnet

Pictures like these will sure pique anyone’s curiosity, especially when those posting these pictures are Apple fans themselves.

64% of marketing professionals believing that word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways to get your brand message out there. It would be a waste not to ask your followers for support!

Think of it: if each of them endorsed your brand to their own spheres of influence, it can give your brand a huge boost in traffic and conversions. And with 4 out of 5 local customers saying that they read reviews to help them decide if they should support a business, it’s absolutely critical for you to nurture your own brand evangelists.

And this is why it’s crucial for you to build a tribe around your brand.

Seth Godin, the author of the bestselling book, Tribes, explains that there are two things you need to create a tribe. The first is connecting people. That’s the easy part because you can connect new and repeat customers of your products by creating a group on Facebook or LinkedIn.

The second part of the equation is having a message that’s going to propel them to follow your lead. Of the two, this is the most crucial because this is what differentiates a tribe from a group.

Here’s how to craft a compelling message to transform your group of customers into a loyal tribe:

  • Get personal and vulnerable. Admittedly, this can be quite challenging because, by default, you’d like your customers to see that you’ve got it made. However, these are the very things that your customers are looking for in a brand. After all, people want to connect with people, and not brand names or logos.
  • Shift the focus from “I” to “you.” Believe it or not, your customers can be selfish and self-centered. They prefer connecting, engaging, and promoting brands that put them front and center of everything they do. So give them what they want.
  • Make good on your promises. People only buy from brands they trust. So if you’ve promised that you’d deliver something to them at a specific date and time, make it a point to make this happen. The more consistent you do this, the more your customers will be willing to trust you.

Make every employee a brand ambassador

Your followers are not the only brand advocates who can help spread the word about your business or blog. You can also rely on the help of your employees to provide customized shopping experiences both online and offline.

For any business to thrive, management needs to ensure that the brand message is ingrained in the workforce. So if you want your employees to act as brand ambassadors, your brand’s core values should be clear on the get-go. You can develop an incentive program that will reward ambassadors for their efforts.

Making every employee a brand ambassador is not only a cost-efficient and effective way to promote your brand, but it’s also one of the best ways to keep your employees engaged.

Collaborate with influencers

Working with influencers–particularly micro-influencers–is one of the quickest ways to build and promote your brand if you’re starting.

Micro-influencers established themselves as reputable sources of information in a particular niche because of the quality of the content they publish. In fact, 61% of customers will buy a product or service recommended a micro-influencer they follow.

The key here is finding micro-influencers within your niche to work with. Ideally, the best ones are those that are either your customers or those that have already been talking about your brand or product.

Over to you

In case you didn’t notice, building a brand is no joke.

Composed of different moving parts, getting lost in developing your brand is easy. One false step that your entire plan will come crashing down.

As a small business, you cannot afford making mistakes with your branding. It is the only thing that differentiates you from the sea of competitors.

This reason is exactly why you need to tap into local customers first. They are the low-hanging fruits of your business. Your proximity between each other is a selling point enough to convince them to try out your brand.

Thinking small, in this case, is starting with acquiring and retaining local customers. By following the tips here, you prepare your business for greater pastures in the process.

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Kevin Payne is an inbound marketing consultant that has helped multiple Saas startups increase their online sales through the use of inbound marketing, growth hacking, and social selling. When he's not advising startups he often writes about the many lessons he has learned from the trenches.

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