Introduction to Local Store Marketing

Although we are a web video agency, we like to post on different marketing concepts that we believe will help a business with their bottom line.

Local Store marketing is the specific targeting of groups or individuals within a specific trade area of a local business or restaurant (Typically 5-6 km radius). LSM creates ongoing relationships with local community members and is one of the most impactful and cost effective marketing strategies available. I spent 3 years working with local store marketing tactics with Boston Pizza International and I can tell you that LSM produces results.

What most restaurant owners don’t know is that approximately 80% of their customer base lives, works and plays within that 5-6 km radius of their restaurant. By not engaging with these potential customers, they raise the risk of losing them to competitors.

Traditionally, LSM is overlooked by restaurants and marketing dollars are budgeted for things like direct mail marketing and local newspaper advertising. However, both of those tactics are unlikely to yield a significant ROI and don’t build long term relationships. In a time when people are eating out less, its crucial to make sure your restaurant is top of mind.

Since this is an “intro” of local store marketing, the first thing we must do is identify the first steps of a successful LSM campaign.The following are the first 5 steps you need to perform to maxamize the effectiveness of a local store marketing campaign.

Step 1: Identify your trade area

The first step to successful community relations (LSM) is to identify exactly who lives, works and plays in your trade area.  The first (and probably the most effective) is to actually drive around your restaurant and identify potential opportunities. For example: If you are looking to build lunch sales, drive around in the morning and look where people are working in your area. Cars in the parking lot means employees in the building. Other locations of interest include schools, sporting facilities and community centers.

Another way to perform a “trade area analysis” is to use an a local online directory like yellowpages.ca or 411.ca. You can enter your business address and then do a proximity search for local businesses. For example, if you are looking for florists to do a valentines day promotion with, you can locate all of them within 5 km.

Step 2: Identify local “Gatekeepers”

A gatekeeper is the person (or sometime a group of people) who make decisions and influence others. For example, if you are the owner of a pizza joint and want to get involved in a schools pizza fay, you will need to speak with the decision makers. This could be a teacher, the principal or the PTA.  These gatekeepers are often social by nature (the quality of a good influencer) so engage them and see what comes of it. It wont cost you anything and you never know what could come of it.

If you can’t quickly identify who the proper gatekeeper is, all you typically need to do is ask. Ask who is in charge or a department, or event or fundraising. If people see that you are generally interested in creating win-win relationships and not just selling them something, they are often quick to help.

Step 3:  Meet with the Gatekeeper

Once you have determined who the key influencer is, you need to meet with them. I know your thinking: why would a complete stranger want to meet with me to discuss how they can help my business? The answer is: they wouldnt. However, a complete stranger WILL meet with you to discuss how your businesses can help eachother.

Lets go back to the pizza day example. Obviously having a school agree for you to supply pizza for pizza day is great for your business. However, what is in it for them? This is where you start to ask questions. You know that every school has fundraising initiatives so ask them about those. See what their goals are, what they are earning money for and what they have done in the past.

After asking lots of questions and gaining a more intimate understanding of how they work, you can offer a solution. For every dollar they spend, you will give 25 cents back to them for their fundraising. Sure, you make a little less money on each order, but you have just secured a steady stream of large, guaranteed orders. They get their pizza and money for fundraising. A true win-win situation.

Step 4: Follow Up

This might seem like an obvious step, but it is often overlooked. It is extremely important to follow up in a timely fashion, or risk undoing everything you just worked very hard to obtain. It can be as simple as an email that outlines everything that was discussed, and who will be responsible for what. Remember this: Gatekeepers are often very organized and task driven. This is what makes them good influencers. If you lay out everything for them, they will be much more likely to follow through.

Another important thing to remember is that the goal is LSM is to create and maintain relationships. Keep things professional, but also friendly. Your doing things like setting up pizza days, and fundraising initiatives…not brokering a corporate takeover. If these people see you as friends, they will be much more likely to contact you with further opportunities.

Step 5:  Tell your Story

You could be the most charitable business owner in the country, but you wont benefit from this unless people know the facts. This might sound self serving, but it is simply a step in becoming a community leader. If people know that your helping out the community, they will be more likely to work with you themselves. They will also be more likely to use your services. If Mr and Mrs Smith know that your donating money back to little Johnny’s school, when they order pizza on Saturday night, you should be top of mind for them.

Telling your story involves using effective public relations. This means delivering specific key messages and telling your story accurately and genuinly. With many years as a public relations professional, the most effective way to do this is through video.

Video tells a story that text never can. It can capture things like emotion, atmosphere and personality. These things go a long way in building a positive public profile and earning peoples trust. If you are considering video, make sure that you hire someone what knows what they are doing. A local video guy will most likely not be able to effectively capture your key messages and you will end up with a story that doesn’t engage your guests. Do your research and choose someone you would trust with your businesses image.

Look for more tips about community relations, local store marketing and video production in future posts. Remember this one thing: if you can create win-win relationships with other local businesses, you will see a steady increase in sales.

Chris Stasiuk

Author Chris Stasiuk

Chris is a writer, director, digital marketer and entrepreneur. In 2009 he founded the Signature Video Group, a Toronto based video production & marketing agency. Since then he has produced more than 200 videos, many for some of Canada's most recognized brands. Hire Chris to produce your next video project or to speak at your event.

More posts by Chris Stasiuk

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