Three tips for getting in front of your local customersIf you are looking to expand the reach of your taprooms and get your local community involved in the excitement, there are ways to get it done. Following are three tips that we have found core to this strategy. Let us know how they work.
1. Make the most of what you have
Take time to locate and use the resources the master brand supplies. Sometimes, this will be as simple as a DropBox or a Facebook page where you can find brand supplied photos and other marketing resources. In other cases, you may have access to a password-protected local marketing automation system that allows you to produce polished, professional marketing materials in a matter of minutes, and absolutely free. Take a moment to talk to your contact at the brand or brands you work with to make sure you're taking full advantage of all the resources on offer.
2. Be obsessed about brand consistency
Independent small businesses should focus hard on creating a strong brand identity—and then stick to it in everything you do. Remember that every communication (a sign, a counter-card, an email) will either add to or detract from brand equity, and resist the temptation to modify your brand look and feel. Use the same typeface in everything you do. Define a small color-palette, and stick to it. Your creative does not have to be earth-shattering or award-winning (although that is always nice). But it absolutely has to help you keep making "deposits" in your brand "bank" rather than withdrawals from it. With your social media presence as a foundation, begin to encourage your customers to review your products in appropriate review sites.
3. If you are buying paid advertising space, remember that frequency is more important than reach
It is better to reach a smaller audience with more repetitions of your message than to stretch to reach a larger audience once and then pray for luck. If you are working with a local ad salesperson ask her for advice about the right frequency for the medium she is selling—and if she stares at you blankly, politely excuse yourself from the conversation. To get the best geography, gather as much data about your customers in store as you can, and then share that with your sales rep.
What can they do online and off to gain awareness with their target audience?
Online — Smart local marketers are beginning to use a rich set of social media channels to build relationships with their customers. If you are new to the social media game, pick no less than three and no more than five social media platforms, and then make yourself and you are a regular presence multiple times per day.
Do not just throw advertising messages at people. Be an authentic and helpful member of the community. If you're a financial advisor, offer perspectives on the economy. If you are a restauranteur look for opportunities where you and your team can help give back to the community through food banks or drives. Be a champion for the values that you think set your business apart (service? hospitality? prudent planning? devotion to quality?) and try to embody those values in the way you post info, and comment on the content of others. Every so often, make an offer to the folks who are following you, and let them know that this is something available only to them.
With your social media presence as a foundation, begin to encourage your customers to review your products in appropriate review sites (Yext, Yelp, and many, many others). Remember that customers believe each other a lot more than they believe a customer's advertisements. But do not make the mistake of trying to "pay" your customers to write nice reviews. People are getting more and more sensitive to those kinds of shenanigans than ever. And if you get a bad review, reach out—in public—and do what it takes to make things right. You will be pleasantly surprised how much people are rooting for an honest, hard-working entrepreneur.
Offline — This is just a little tip, but I think it's one that often works. Combine an offline advertising tactic (say, direct mail), with an online social media tool (say, Facebook). Make a compelling offer in direct mail and drive traffic to your Facebook page—where the offer can be activated or fulfilled. This works really well with customer referral programs, where both the referring customer and the new customer can earn a discount or reward.
Another great pairing of offline and online is outdoor (think, billboards) and social media or text. Again, use the offline tool to drive people to your online presence, where a specific reward or dis- count can be granted. This helps you to combine the broad visibility required for brand awareness, with a level of accountability usually seen only with direct mail or email campaigns.
Kevin Groome, founder of CampaignDrive by Pica9, is a serial entrepreneur, award-winning creative director and enterprise software architect whose work in marketing and technology has benefited some of the best-known brands in the world.