4 Ways to Build Your Local Presence

June 21st, 2013 by Diana Doherty

Jun13Hometown support can keep your small business going through difficult times, and can be beneficial to your community. The people who live in your town aren’t just friends and neighbors; they’re also your customers—or they should be. If the locals in your city don’t know your business exists, it’s time to put some work into building your small business presence around town.

Show up in Local Search Results

When people want to find a good pizza place while driving around town, they pull out their smartphone and do a quick search for pizzerias. About a quarter of all Google searches have “local intent,” meaning they’re aimed at finding results nearby. Whether you show up in search results is not something you can afford to leave to chance. Claim your spot on Google Places for Business, Bing Places for Business, and Yelp to place in those results

Once you sign up for those services, you can manage your business listings. Include high-quality photos when possible, and fill out all the information you can. Make sure you include your hours of operation, all means of contacting your business, and your website’s URL, if you have one. Double check to ensure your information is exactly the same in every place it’s listed. Don’t be afraid to post a sign in your business or place a link on your website asking happy customers to leave feedback on those sites, as well.

Give Back to the Community

Six out of ten entrepreneurs feel philanthropy has made their businesses more successful over time. Eighty-nine percent of them donate money to charities personally and through their companies. The size of your company will affect how much you can give, and in what ways. Many entrepreneurs form their own non-profits to benefit a cause close to their hearts, but you can find many smaller ways to help.

Some potential ways to give back include: a company volunteer day; customer donation requests or a donation box; sponsoring a community team or event; offering a mentorship or internship program in collaboration with local schools; and pledging a percentage of your profits to a certain charity. If you can, come up with a way to donate that’s unique to your business.

Join the Chamber of Commerce

Sometimes businesses overlook their local chamber because of the membership fee, but the price to join may be well worth your investment. In addition to being listed in their materials, you can network with other members, and participate in community events. Become an active member, and your face and brand will become more recognizable to the community, leaders, and other business owners.

Being a Chamber member can also boost your reputation. In fact, nearly a third of people believe member businesses to be reputable, and to have good business practices. Consumers are 63 percent more likely to purchase from a small business who’s a chamber of commerce member.

Earn Trust

Conduct your business in a trustworthy manner and you’ll earn happy, repeat customers, positive online reviews, and referrals. Earning the trust of your community requires more than just delivering on product promises. Local businesses must build more personal relationships with their customers. Learn your customers’ names, and use them. Send customers postcards with special offers for being loyal to your business.

As a local business, you have the unique opportunity to really listen to and address the concerns of your customers. Keep communication flowing, and always follow up with your clients. These are perks big businesses can’t offer, and they’ll go a long way toward building your local reputation as a trustworthy business.

Local presence is key for business owners who want lasting relationships with the customers in their region. The trust, availability, and value your business can bring to the table not only help ensure a solid customer base for you, but enrich the overall vibe of your city. Make sure you can be found easily online—and off—to become a vibrant part of the fabric of your community.

Diana Doherty is a freelance writer specializing in SEO content, and is a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. She loves all things tech, photography, craft, military family life, and business. She earned her BA in English Writing Arts from SUNY Oswego.