In most locations, there are all the customers you ever need within walking distance of your business.
But sometimes we’re so busy promoting far and wide, that we forget the simple and effective neighbourhood promotions that work every time.
Talk about local produce and suppliers. Feature at least two items on your menu & beverage list that are sourced locally or known for local connections. Eg: Our potatoes are the best from Kooweerup. Our icecream is churned by local producers Rocky & Co. Fish sourced daily from Sydney Fish Markets. There’s a growing debate on ‘food miles’ – some customers don’t care, but many are interested. Frame it as local pride rather than politics.
Talk about what locals love to eat or drink. This is the favourite beer with locals in Manly. Locals up this way love these oysters. Would you like to try one of our local wines? It’s on the menu and in the server’s recommendations.
Support local causes. Whether it’s fundraising for a school gym or protecting a heritage area, take part in mainstream local issues. Mention it in your newsletter, on your Facebook Page, and on the ‘What’s New’ or blog section of your website.
Host local meetings. If there are times during the week when you’ve got empty space, this is when local meetings can take place on your premises. They may not buy more than a coffee or beer, but the appreciation will come back in many other ways. And if you’ve got free WiFi available, you suddenly become a much more desirable location.
List local events. An up-to-date local diary on your website is easy to organise and keep fresh, focused on your events and those that are important to customers. Or put them on the Event listings on Facebook, especially if you’re a sponsor – ask supporters to like and share these to their friends.
Show off the locals. Keep your photo gallery up to date with pictures of happy customers and local events – on the cafe wall or the website, and in albums on your Facebook Page. Encourage people to email or SMS photos when they go travelling. If your area doesn’t have its own Facebook Page, create one, like the great example at Facebook.com/DunedinNZ. Think of yourself as the local Mayor – why not?!
Mention local employment. You hire local workers, and many staff live nearby – it’s another way to show you’re embedded into the community. Local senior schools are keen to place their hospitality students – have you met the teachers and said hello? Hint: take a basket of muffins when you call, it works like a charm!
List all the local areas on your website. It’s very important for better website ranking. Talk about the surrounding suburbs and towns specifically by name so an online search will connect your venue with that location. What do people search for? Eg ‘pizza in Cooktown’ or ‘pub in Glebe’. Hint: Have your full street address at the bottom of each page and on the side navigation bar. Include a phone number with the area code, and very important, make sure to have each listing exactly the same eg don’t have Street on one address and St on another. This gives search engines the information they need, and avoids duplicate listings.
Use Facebook Location Ads. If you want to be seen regularly by your neighbours, set up a low-budget local advertising campaign on Facebook (say $3 per day) to highlight the food or a special feature. Without advertising, most of your posts will never be seen. Facebook can be a very powerful and targeted advertising platform – it’s worth exploring.