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Winning over the global market is one thing – no matter what you’re selling or promoting there’s bound to be people who are interested. Your local markets are another story entirely. The smaller population means the likelihood of a super small niche catching on isn’t as great. Plus, you have more responsibility and accountability because your customers will see you around town. That’s not something that commonly happens when you operate on a global scale.
These differences mean branding works a little differently when you’re branding to a local audience. It can be just as effective, and can work wonders for your bottom line – but careful consideration must be made with each step.
Embrace Being Local…Or Not
One of the big things for local markets is they often take pride in the fact it’s a local business. Since Wal-Mart and other huge companies have started to take over more and more markets, local businesses that can survive are a point of pride for any local community. So much so that some customers will make a point to shop there even if they can get the same products or services from a megachain for a lower price.
A lot of branding efforts have a “universal” feel to them, as most businesses want to bring in as many people as possible. However, for local branding you actually may want the opposite. Make people feel like they’re part of an exclusive club – it’s so unique even the town down the freeway won’t get it.
However, don’t forget to consider your audience. If many of the people in your town yearn to leave for bigger pastures, going for the “proud of our local town” branding might not work.
Get Out There
Since you have ready access to your friends and neighbors, use it to your advantage! Get out there and mix it up with the locals in your town and see what they really like. This could lead to some great ideas for your business.
One great idea is to participate in community and charitable events. The public will see that you’re really taking steps to better the area and improve their lives as well as run a business. Plus, this can easily go along with the “down home” feel you may be trying to cultivate.
Also, if you want people to feel like they’re part of the club, give them a way to let you know how they feel about your business. Hand out surveys or send people online so they can tell you what works and doesn’t work for them.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
We all have an idea how our local communities will react to certain elements – small towns, for example, are often viewed as conservative and unwilling to try new things. However, you may be selling them (and yourself) short if you don’t give them a chance.
If you have an idea for a branding campaign that fits your business perfectly, don’t be afraid to give it a shot! Your community may be more accepting than you think and you will never know if you don’t try.
For an example, you think your small town market would be unwilling to accept your idea for a super geeky business. After giving it a shot, though, you realize geek is chic everywhere now, even in towns without a comic book shop! You’ll soon find that all of the local “geeks” have congregated to your business. If you had never tried it, you may have gone for a campaign that wouldn’t have worked so well.