Ok, there are actually a few real secrets, they are not really secrets, and they are pretty much common sense. However, you’re likely still not doing all of them because you are busy getting work done. So let’s talk about “owning” the local market.
Before you try and be #1 locally (whatever that means to you), you’ve got to approach local online winning in the correct manner. Come off like a hyperactive puppy, and people will shy away. Think that a couple posts on your blog every month from a staff member will cut it, and they will go unread.
If you want to be a big part of the community (and who doesn’t?), you actually have to BE part of the local community.
Stop Pushing and Participate
People love communities because they love whatever thing the community is about. Gardening, BBQ, whatever strikes their fancy. If you come off as less excited or earnest than they are about their thing and try and make things about you, you will be introduced to a level of not happy you have not experienced. Talk about the topic and if you are able you can interject with product.
True story, I recently saw a post in a gardening forum that my girlfriend is in and it said “If you like gardening you will love our mattress deals!”. I only make this point because they not only are spamming the group, but their product doesn’t even relate to the topic. (They could have gone into a back pain forum and actually engaged).
Be an actual part of the solution. Ask questions. Read feedback.
Being a regular part of online communities is a commitment. Get your phone set up and use down time to check on posts (no, not while in traffic). People in the forums look at who is writing so your profile is your sales tool and your insight is your trust booster. Make sure you let them know you are a regular person.
Be the Friendly Expert
Start putting our material and articles on the forums and as follow up to questions. “Hey, saw your post, here’s a link to an article that offers some insight to that”. Giving free advice and real examples puts in in the expert seat for your target audience in their most engaged state.
Get the Local Top Dogs Into Your Pack
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. If you can uncover and connect with the respected, movers and shakers in your community, you can slowly bring them into your pack. Start by helping them one on one, with related information they can use and be heros with. Then, you can even move on to a group strategy as an expert for an exclusive group of influencers. Give them information “that nobody else will have”. You have just produced local heros that will be positive about you.
Be The Same All The Time
Neat things start happening when you engage. You actually learn quite a bit more about your buyers and what they actually care about. By regular participation, you develop consistency in your answers and tone and being correct most of the time!
One thing to mention about being always the same is don’t get baited by trolls (users who live to stir the pot). Your tone and language should be real but always take the high road. In the online world, winning a battle can cost you the war.
Fish Where Only The Fish Are
Ok, this one take some work. However, if you can find some new ways of looking at finding customers, it will pay off in droves.
Find placements for ads and promotional opportunites that are a little different. Adopting a “me too” strategy and doing essentially what the big competitors are doing, but less of it, simply doesn’t work.
Maybe sponsoring those local teams or spaonsoring a fund-raising effort is EXACTLY what you need to do rather than the other thing. If it reaches your target marketing in some way, it may very easily pay for itself. You HAVE to leverage your community participation however. You can just sponsor a baseball team and wait for the lead to roll in. There are activities you need to do surrounding that sponsorship that will be the true sellers.
In closing, have fun being part of your community. Take time to be part of the community and the community will support you.