Local Marketing

6 big ideas to inspire people to support local businesses

Ask for a little extra help from the people who are actively supporting your local business

QUICK SUMMARY
  • Customers are often willing to support local businesses, but they usually need a little push in the right direction.
  • There are plenty of things you can do to encourage local business support, and some of them are actually good fun.
  • Semrush’s Listing Management makes it easy to manage your reviews and reply to all the people who took the time to support your local business.

Local businesses need all the support they can get these days. With online retailers making shopping from home easier and cheaper than ever, traditional brick-and-mortar businesses could use a leg up from the local community to maintain a healthy cash flow.

Not everyone that comes through the doors of a small store, restaurant or service provider understands how to support local businesses, but if asked directly, are usually more than happy to get involved.

Thriving local business environments benefit the entire community, so it’s not a particularly difficult sell to ask customers to do one of the following things to support local small business:

1. Send customers a link to leave you a review

Online reviews are one of the easiest ways satisfied customers can support local businesses. It only takes a couple of minutes, and as long as the customer is sent a simple link to your Google reviews , most people are usually more than happy to oblige.

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The best way to reach out for a customer review is via SMS because it has the highest open rate of any marketing channel (almost 100% by some estimates).

If you don’t collect your customers’ phone numbers (it’s not typical practice for general stores, for example), place QR codes by the register and on receipts so customers don’t have to waste time searching for your review platform (and possibly getting distracted in the process).

2. Reply to all reviews with a personal message

Most businesses understand that accruing reviews is good for your online reputation and your local SEO rankings.

But not everyone realises that it’s also important to respond to all the reviews you get, both positive and negative, to demonstrate you’re an active business that takes its customers’ feedback seriously and appreciates them supporting local businesses.

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Replying to reviews also encourages others to leave reviews of their own. A study from Harvard Business Review found that businesses received 12% more reviews by thanking their customers, likely due to it being clear that their comments would actually be read.

Streamline your efforts: Reviews don’t always come in via Google. Customers can support local businesses with reviews on Facebook, Yelp and several other listings platforms that allow users to submit feedback. But instead of reacting to every notification of a new review, let Semrush’s Review Management collect them all for you so you can get back to them when you aren’t so busy.

3. Offer discounts on the next purchase

People love a good bargain, so handing them a coupon to save money on their next visit is a great way to encourage their continued support.

If it’s not in your budget to give money off products and services, invest in some affordable candy or similar small gift you can hand them with their receipt so they leave with a good feeling about coming again.

Or consider a loyalty card that customers can get stamped every time they make a purchase. This is a more cost-effective way to entice customers back to support your business, because you'll guarantee profit from the previous purchases.

4. Encourage people to engage on social media

A strong social media presence keeps you top of mind with the very people who support your local business. Promote your goods or services in local groups, comment on other local business pages and start conversations when customers mention you online.

And why not simply put out a post asking for your community to support your local business? It might feel a little vulnerable to reach out for help so directly, but you’d be surprised at how many people will respond.

Supporting local businesses feels much better than ordering online or going through a self-service checkout at the supermarket, so people are often happy to show their support on social media by liking and sharing.

4. Encourage people to engage on social media

A strong social media presence keeps you top of mind with the very people who support your local business. Promote your goods or services in local groups, comment on other local business pages and start conversations when customers mention you online.

And why not simply put out a post asking for your community to support your local business? It might feel a little vulnerable to reach out for help so directly, but you’d be surprised at how many people will respond.

Supporting local businesses feels much better than ordering online or going through a self-service checkout at the supermarket, so people are often happy to show their support on social media by liking and sharing.

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Busy schedule: Small businesses often struggle to find the time to be consistent on social media because they’ve got their hands full doing everything else necessary to keep things running. Semrush’s Listing Management subscribers also get access to the platform’s other features, including Social Poster, which allows you to schedule social media posts in advance so there’ll always be content for your audience to engage with.

5.Ask customers to recommend you to family and friends

There are many reasons why supporting local businesses benefits the individual, from boosting the local economy and reducing their carbon footprint to the simple joys of a unique shopping experience. But ultimately, people love the feeling of being a local expert and being able to recommend great businesses to their friends and family.

Incentive schemes that offer both parties a discount or gift card when you introduce a new customer can work to get the word out. Or consider handing out free samples that customers can give as gifts and credit the amazing local business that gives them the VIP treatment.

But when people believe they’ve found a truly great local business that others might not know about, chances are they’ll be happy to talk you up simply because it makes them feel like a trusted guide that knows all the hot spots.

6. Host a fun event for the community

There’s no better way to get people to support your local business than the promise of free food, drinks and great music.

Involve local musicians and artists who are looking for a platform to sell their latest EP or paintings. Or perhaps make it a fundraiser for a local charity to earn even more goodwill from the community.

If you don’t have a physical space suitable for an event, get involved in local festivals and bring your business to the people. Just don’t forget the free samples and QR codes to get people to leave reviews.

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Give your customers’ support an extra boost with Semrush’s Listing Management

Encouraging customers to support your local business is just the start of a bigger journey to building awareness and boosting revenues.

Marketing your local business is an ongoing process, but fortunately, Semrush has developed just the tool to get the most value out of your efforts.

Reply to new reviews in one place

One of the best ways customers can support your local business is to leave a review, and that means you’ll need to stay on top of replying to all the people kind enough to post one.

Replying to reviews on all the different platforms can soon become overwhelming if you're relying solely on notifications to prompt you to get back to them.

Use Semrush’s Review Management to bring all your new reviews into one interface so you can get back to them during slower business periods.
A reply to a review in Semrush’s Review Management

Track your customers’ opinions

A pleasant side effect of people supporting your local business is the boost to your online reputation.

With a higher quantity of reviews and better average rating, local businesses can expect to see improvements in their rankings and even more customers discovering their business online.

Track your ratings as you improve with Semrush’s Review Management, which reveals your progress in easy-to-digest graphs that you can use for monthly reports.
A Listing Management Review Progress Report

Attract new customers the easy way

In order to encourage people to support your local business, you’ll need to make it easy for new customers to find you in the first place.

You don’t need to be experienced in local SEO to build a strong online presence; it can actually be as simple as typing in your business name.

Semrush’s Listing Management finds opportunities for your business on 70+ directories and distributes your listings on your behalf so you can focus on building relationships with your new customers.
Missed opportunities for listings in Semrush’s Listing Management

Track positions and compare with competitors

As you foster more support for your local business, you’ll be in a much better position to build a strategy to outdo competitors in the local rankings.

Earning more reviews is great for your local SEO, but do you have a clear picture of where you stand against other local businesses?

Clear the path to the top of Google’s Local Pack with Listing Management’s Heatmap tool, which allows Premium subscribers to spy on competitors and understand their average positions at a granular level.
Heatmap from Semrush
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