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Advertising your small business locally | 6 tips to make an impact

28 March 2024
1059 Peter May Alight Bournemouth Rd Southampton Outbound February 2023 View2fill 2

Every small business owner knows the challenges that come with starting a business, whether that’s establishing a customer base, differentiating from competitors, or building brand awareness.

If you're looking to advertise your small business locally, create a secure base from which to expand. Anyone can advertise locally, and you don’t necessarily need to invest in hiring a marketing team to run a successful campaign.

In this article, we’ll explain six ways you can make an impact within your community through local advertising, and give you some pointers on how to get started.

Suggested reading: Explore our free toolkit on the different types and benefits of out-of-home advertising to get inspiration for your next campaign.

Why advertise locally?

There are approximately 5.6 million small businesses in the UK — all looking to increase regional and national awareness of their brands.

While it can be tempting to get your name out there through whatever means possible, it’s important to advertise your business in a targeted and methodical way. Advertising locally can help you:

  • Reach an engaged audience: People from your local community are already more likely to purchase your products or services due to your business’s proximity.

  • Advertise at a lower cost: Reduce pressure on other areas of your business by starting with a smaller advertising budget and increasing it as your business grows.

  • Strengthen community relationships: Craft relationships with local people and businesses to build a base of loyal customers.

  • Target specific needs: Use your knowledge of the area to recognise where and when people have specific need states, like wanting to get food or go shopping.

Before getting started with any kind of advertising, small business owners often have one main question in mind…

How much does it cost for a small business to advertise?

How much your advertising costs will depend on where, how, and when you advertise. Advertising in big cities or on key commuter routes is often more expensive than advertising locally; likewise, advertising during peak times, such as 5pm or during the lead-up to Christmas, will cost more.

Being strategic about how you advertise is key to keeping costs down. Here are some of the top ways to advertise your business locally without breaking the bank:

Tip 1: Make the most of social media

Yes, it is possible to advertise your business locally for free! Use your business social media account to advertise:

  • Popups and events

  • Product giveaways

  • Discounts

  • Rewards

Make sure to use location tags on your posts to identify your business as being based in a specific area. Use social media marketing alongside other methods such as out-of-home (OOH) billboard advertising to get people used to seeing your brand both online and offline.

Tip 2: Partner with local businesses

Wondering how to promote your small business locally? Work with the businesses that are already established in the area. More often than not, other small business owners will be happy to get involved in cross-promotion that helps you both grow your brands.

Avoid working with direct competitors, as you could risk steering people away from your brand and towards theirs. Instead, look for businesses that:

  • Have a different target market or target demographic

  • Work in a different or tangential industry

  • Align with your brand’s values

Something as simple as an Instagram post on a well-established page could be enough to dramatically improve your online visibility.

Tip 3: Utilise billboard advertising

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is a really effective way of reaching your customers. People are approximately 14% more likely to trust a brand if they use OOH advertising, as it associates your business with a specific location and community.

Billboard advertising is particularly effective as it is viewable by anyone. Billboards are typically located along main roads or in busy town centres, and can be seen by people on their commute, shopping, passing by in their cars, or visiting the town. If you’re wanting to reach a broad audience while staying within budget, billboard advertising is a great choice.

Want to learn more? Check out our recent article that explains the top 3 types of billboards and OOH you need to know about.

Tip 4: Target your online ads

While online ads don’t always provide the best value for money — with an average of only 9% of online desktop ads being viewed — they can be effective when targeted towards local audiences.

Use demographic information such as age, gender, and employment to make your ads more specific to your target audience.

Research has also shown that a viewer’s brain response increases by 12% when an ad is shown at the relevant moment, such as showing food when they are hungry. Consider when and where your ad will appear, and ensure this is aligned with what your potential customers are looking for.

Tip 5: Get feedback

Local advertising lets you get closer to potential and existing customers. If you’ve already run your first local advertising campaign, gather feedback from residents on:

  • How did it make them feel? Were they inspired to purchase?

  • Where and when did they see the ad? Did the time and OOH location align with when/where you expected them to see it?

  • What would they change? Was there anything they did or didn’t like?

If you haven’t yet run your first campaign, you can start by asking for direct reviews of your product or service. Asking for reviews is in itself a form of advertising, as people will get an opportunity to discover what you offer and learn more about your small business.

Tip 6: Use a range of advertising methods

The lower cost of advertising within a local community gives you the space to experiment with a range of different advertising methods. Using multiple different types of advertising at once can be incredibly beneficial in establishing brand awareness — for example, if someone sees a billboard about your business, and then hears a radio ad that reinforces the message.

Making an impact as a small business isn’t always easy, especially if you’re competing against larger, more established brands. But by reminding those in your community of who you are and what you stand for across different OOH platforms, you’ll be able to gain notoriety and work towards advertising on a national scale.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that not all OOH advertising agencies will be able to accommodate small businesses advertising locally. Look for OOH companies that have no minimum order value, so you can start by running smaller-scale campaigns that grow with your business.

Grow your business with positively different OOH

In this article, we’ve shared some of our top tips for how to market your small business locally. There’s no singular ‘best way’ to advertise a small business, but regardless of which advertising method you choose, the local community should be at the heart of your strategy. Every ad you create should target a customer's needs and provide a solution.

At Alight Media, we are passionate about the positive impact of creative and engaging out-of-home advertising. Our digital and paper billboards are located in prime locations around the country, providing high visibility for small and growing businesses.

With no minimum order value, our customers can create impactful ads at any scale. To learn more about how we can help you promote your small business locally, contact us today.