Blanket communications (i.e., template-driven, "enter city here" marketing efforts that don't reflect local sensibilities) will never warm local markets, and that is the only blanket statement acceptable on the subject. Think about it: highlighting your swimwear won't turn heads in New York City as it did in California. Referencing long subway commutes won't resonate as well in Baltimore as it does in Washington, D.C.
And in general, mass emailing without any particular audience in mind will leave no impression in mind.
Becoming the friendly neighborhood national company requires business owners to create a niche communication strategy -- one that joins the conversations already taking place in the community and provides clear solutions for the community members’ everyday challenges, needs and aspirations.
The difference between blanket coverage and becoming a part of the very fabric of every local community your business is part of comes down to what I call the three R’s: Research. Relate. Reinvent.
Here's how to incorporate each into your communication strategy:
Diligent market research is a fundamental and unending process, but it takes on a heightened importance when launching your business or satellite office in a new city. It’s impossible to become a part of the fabric of a community unless you know what it's made of. Use statistics, surveys and other resources to determine:
- Which products or services are in highest demand?
- What local businesses pose a challenge to your brand?
- What landmarks, social norms, points of reference and facts of life tie the community together?
Genuinely relating to your community means not only identifying its challenges, needs and aspirations (as discovered in your research), but also building -- and building upon -- relationships with the people and businesses that make up the community. Any corporate engagement that connects loose threads -- i.e., that reinforces and mends the bonds within a community by connecting its people -- renders your business indispensable.
Here are some specific ideas for building relationships in your community:
- Reach out to friends, relatives, and former schoolmates in the area for their soft-sell marketing support.
- Build a localized virtual community around the brand using Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites.
- Attend and participate in local events and concerns that impact your business and/or your customers. (Hint: hosting one of your own is even better!)
Your efforts to research and relate to your local market are all for naught if you don’t apply the insights you gained to project a neighborly image and attract your target market. Put another way, once the care instructions are read, don’t bleach and machine-wash a red wool blanket!
Instead, incorporate locally relevant information into your company messaging:
- Lead with and “specialize” in products local consumers want most.
- Include local landmarks, foods, and lifestyles in corporate blogs, press releases, websites, and social media.
- Apply the brand and its services clearly and directly to local life.
As co-founder of Seva Call, a startup that has launched in 15 cities so far and counting, I know the value of localized marketing (and the cost of failing to cover the three R's). While every city our business enters is unique, and I’ve made more blanket statements than should be allowed already, one more blanket statement is certain: each community offers a warm reception to a knowledgeable and relatable new neighbor who adds value to their lives.
So tell me: Are you adding value to your new neighbors' lives yet?
Manpreet Singh is Founder and President of Seva Call, a local startup that helps consumers find high quality local professionals in minutes.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.