Your ultimate guide to local area marketing for franchise

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‘Location, location, location.’ It may be an old real estate saying, but for local businesses today, it’s more relevant than ever. Google reports 'near me' searches on mobile have tripled in the past two years and claim three in four people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a related business within 24 hours. So it’s worthwhile familiarizing yourself not only with your neighborhood but also with a reliable local marketing strategy.

Since most local businesses are likely to be limited with resources, we’ve created a simple guide on building a local strategy, particularly for franchises, to help promote your business without spending too much time or money.

Table of contents

What is local marketing?

  • As the name suggests, local marketing is a way to connect business with customers that live locally. While many interpret this to mean digital-only, it also includes any initiatives that target a local crowd, such as flyers in letterboxes or even sponsoring local events. For that reason, let’s divided it into two sections:
  1. Online local marketing
  2. Offline local marketing

Online local marketing

Online local marketing includes everything digital, such as online ads, search engine optimization (SEO), and your website. Most importantly, it should ensure your website is optimized for mobile when people are searching on the go.

Offline local marketing

Offline local marketing is more of your traditional promotional options. We’re not talking about big-budget marketing like billboards, but smaller touchpoints like posters in windows, flyers, or letterbox drops. These may seem obvious but never underestimate their potential.

The goal for both is to drive foot traffic and awareness, and in turn, grow your business.

Why do you need local marketing?

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In short, people tend to favor local businesses. According to a study by Zendesk, 91% of those surveyed prefer to support small businesses when it is convenient, while 74% actively look for ways to support small businesses, even if it’s not convenient.

Findings from 8 shifts shaping the franchise marketing of tomorrow also found that millennials (who have more than $1.4 trillion in spending power) are more committed to buying from small, locally-owned retailers and service providers. From a digital standpoint, search engines are significantly in favor of hyper-localization.

What are the benefits of local marketing?

In most cases, locals account for a large portion of the franchise customer base. And since franchisees tend to service local areas, local marketing can help to:

  1. Establish your business
  2. Reach new audiences, and
  3. Boost your search rankings and online traffic so you can be found more often.

So let’s get into how to create a campaign that works for your franchise business.

Create a campaign that works for your business

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Since most people search online for business, the first step is to look at your online marketing options.

Set up a Google Business Profile

Your first step is to set up a free Business Profile. This lets you easily connect with customers across Google Search and Maps, plus customers can know your hours, see reviews and see the images you select to best represent your business.

You can also:

  • Promote your business with photos and posts
  • Track business analytics to understand your customers
  • Respond to customer reviews

To set up Google My Business:

  1. Go to and either sign up or if you already have a Google account, click on the top left corner to manage your business.
  2. Set up your business name and category. As the category will be used to find you, make sure to choose an accurate category.
  3. Update with your hours, again, making sure this is accurate.
  4. Upload photos of your business. If it’s a store, you might choose to have both an interior and exterior shot. Or, if your franchise is mobile, you might decide to have pictures of a friendly face or the service in action – anything that helps customers understand what to expect.

Once that’s done, Google will guide you to the Google My Business dashboard, where you can continue to manage or update your business. Easy.

Step up your social media efforts

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No matter what platform you’re on, there are plenty of localization options.

First, look at your profile and make sure you’ve set your location. Next, take a look at the types of images you post and see if your area is easily recognizable. If featuring photos of your local area isn’t possible, at least tag images with your posts’ location.

In addition, spend some time researching your area. Start following other local accounts, and be sure to use hashtags that are trending about your neighborhood.

Print to promote your business

While a large majority of our time is spent online, there are still plenty of reasons to create promotional print materials. It’s handy if you have a physical store, but even if you don’t, you can also find ways to distribute or display things like flyers, posters, and more.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. It’s easy to design, print, and get materials delivered, choosing a small amount to start with to keep down costs.

Your first printed piece should be your business card as it tells people about your business and enables them to get in touch. Canva has plenty of business card templates to choose from, so you can simply add your details, get them printed, and have them delivered free.

After that, consider printed flyers or magnets with a promotional message to announce your business or, better still, offer a local deal. These can be dropped in letterboxes or left in store. If you don’t have your own store, ask stores nearby if you can leave a stack of flyers inside. Most local businesses are usually pretty accommodating when it comes to supporting other local initiatives.

Merchandise like T-shirts or mugs with your name and logo can be given out or used as giveaways via a social campaign.

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Almost every neighborhood has a local newspaper, and they’re always looking for stories to fill their pages. To do so, you’ll need a press release to announce your new business or inform them of an upcoming promotion. It’s best to get a professional to write it for you, however, you can do it yourself.

The key is including all the information using the who, what, where, when, and why method, covering who you are, what you do, where you are located, when you’re available or the promotion is taking place, and why your business is relevant to the customer. It should also include all your contact details in case the media want to get in touch.

If you do choose to write a press release yourself, start by researching online so you get an idea of how press releases are structured. Then present your press release on a beautifully designed page with your logo at the top and contact the media to find the best way to submit it.

Uncover local opportunities

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Since no two neighborhoods are the same, it’s worth taking the time to explore to uncover local marketing opportunities specific to your area. This could be sponsorship opportunities for sports teams or local events. It could be getting a stall at a local market or even just appearing on the community noticeboard. You might even find there are local listings, either printed or on websites. If so, contact the list owner to see how your business could be included.

The goal here is to be as active as possible in the community or at least have your business feature as much as possible to get your name out there amongst your local customers.

Test to see what works

As you can see, it doesn’t take that much to get a local marketing campaign off the ground. In fact, you could just start with one or two options to test and see what works best for your business. If you’re strapped for time, focus on one initiative each month. Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask customers how they discovered you.

Local marketing tips and tricks

No matter what marketing channel you choose, here are a few additional pointers to ensure your campaign is a success.

  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Many local customers search on the go while they’re out and about in the area so make it easy for them to find you.
  • Polish your customer service. This Zendesk study claims 86% of customers will choose a vendor based on a smooth customer service experience, so be sure to respond quickly to ensure customers are informed and always, always be polite.
  • Go above and beyond. In a local area, word travels fast, so if you go the extra distance, you’ll never be short or eager customers.

To learn more about growing your franchise and building a lasting franchise brand, why not read 8 shifts shaping the franchise marketing of tomorrow and 4 reasons to centralize your franchise brand marketing today.

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