Customers Want Local

Guest post from Entrepreneur Author Becky McCray

Ninety-seven percent of internet users search for local businesses online, BIA/Kelsey’s User View Wave found as early as 2010. According to the American Express OPEN Small Business Saturday Consumer Pulse, nearly 3 quarters of consumers (73 percent) consciously shop at small businesses in their community because they do not want them to go away.

That’s Good News for Local Businesses

If your business sells primarily to local walk-in customers, you fit right into the traditional idea of local. Customers are looking for you online, so your focus for content is on the people, businesses, and features that are right around you.

What if You’re Not “Local?” Other Ways to “Be Local”

If your business sells online or to customers from all over, it can be tougher to figure out how to be “local” and how to connect with all those local searches. But there are other ways to do it.

Local can also be “temporary local.” If your business is based on tourism, you have temporary locals. People visit your community because they love something about it. They are temporary locals with a stake in your community. When you use video to show off your destination community, you’re strengthening your ties with potential visitors, and you’re connecting with their local searches.

Local can also be “someone else’s local.” By showing your connections to your local community, you’re also establishing that you are a small business worth supporting, no matter where your customers are. Marketer Jane Quigley told me that when she shops online, she looks for local independent businesses to support, even if they are local to somewhere else. When I was looking for chocolate covered pecans, I chose to buy from Nuts.com because their website showcased their local ties in their New Jersey community. They weren’t local to me, but they were someone else’s local, and that earned my business. All the video you create to show your local connections increases your appeal to distant customers, too.

Local can also be “a member of our community online.” Take the WordPress community, for example. The developers, designers, and consultants that work with the WordPress framework are all part of a network and online community. There are also offline community events like WordCamps and developer events. To show that your business is “local” to the online community, use video to show your participation at in-person events, your connections to community leaders, and your support of community causes. You can also go further by using all the local video techniques here.

Video Goes Local

Now that you’re thinking about your own local ties, how can you use video to show them? Jason Falls has taught you how to use your video for SEO, so you know how to optimize. Be sure you’re including local keywords and phrases:

  • your town name and state
  • local landmarks
  • your neighborhood
  • your region
  • local geographic names like counties, townships, or parishes

 

You never know which geographic names people have associated with you, so it’s best to include more than just your town name. And phrases like “tri-state area” are used so many different places, it pays to also explain them. Don’t assume viewers know which state you’re in. Remember those “someone else’s local” searches? Those potential new customers won’t know exactly where you are until you tell them.

What to Show on Video for “Local”

1. Location, Location, Location

Start with your store, or office, or what ever physical location you work from. Give your customers a tour, a peek out your window, or an inside view into where you do the magic. Even if your work is location independent, you can feature “today’s workplace” in your videos.

Extend that to field locations. Show where your product is used, or where your services make a difference. Show demonstrations from the field. I promise you a product video is always more interesting when it’s a product demo from the field, rather than a “talking head” video from behind a desk about the same product.

2. Supply Chain

Your products are made from other ingredients or supplies. Show where they come from. Show the local businesses or suppliers you buy from. The easiest way for you to picture this is following food products from the farm to someone’s plate. You can use this idea with any business. In fact, you don’t have to be a product-based business. If you provide services, other local services support you. Show them. Where do they come from? Who are the people involved?

OK, now go the other way along the supply chain. Who buys from you? What local businesses or people rely on you? Make videos featuring them and what difference they make locally.

3. Join the Community

You’re part of some local community, and you want to show that. The best way to connect to locals is to feature locals. Look to local causes, activities, and events. You’re already participating in events, so take your video camera with you.

Show some local history. Capture some local wildlife. Share what makes you proud of your community.

What about your people? How are your people part of the local community? Do they volunteer, act in plays, perform at renaissance fairs? Get video!

Are you supporting a local cause? Explain why. Share how they make a difference. Get out and show how they do it. Invite them to be part of your videos. Let them do guest videos on your channel.

Why Video Matters Most in Local

At its core, being local is all about people. That’s why video matters so much to create local ties. Flat words on a screen can only convey so much. But moving images make you much more real to people. And when you’re building local ties, being real is perhaps the most critical element. If you take any of these local ideas, capture some simple honest video about them, and share them with your local community, you’ll build a much stronger connection and ultimately build your business.

Thanks Becky – terrific post that redefines how the term “local” applies to small business! To read more about Becky, she shares useful lessons for urban and rural businesses in her new book, Small Town Rules, written with Chicago entrepreneur Barry Moltz. Becky publishes the popular website Small Biz Survival. She also owns a liquor store and a cattle ranch in Oklahoma.

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