How Local is Local? Defining Where Your Market Lives and How to Reach Them

By Jason BarrettSeptember 24, 2015

When it comes to location-based marketing, the meaning of “local” can change depending on the situation and the product or service being marketed. Local is country-wide for some businesses, like those that ship anywhere in the United States. It can describe state-level when looking at insurance and mortgages, or select cities when looking at restaurants or travel.  It can be specific to zip codes if we are looking at something like storage or theaters, or even at an individual if we are talking about point-of-sale marketing in a brick-and-mortar business. That’s a mouthful − or eyeful in this case − but it’s the reality of today’s marketing world. Now, let’s dive in a bit more to see where this rabbit hole leads.

How Do You Find Your Local?
First understanding your product or service and knowing its area of distribution helps define what local means for your marketing efforts. Regardless of whether you are focusing on conversions or lead generation, location awareness is key to discovering untapped potential in your campaigns. We have found that companies using localized marketing efforts not only gain an edge over competition, but reveal ways that their competitors are missing out.

One item to be aware of is the scale of the effort.  When targeting locations, the number of focus areas can grow tremendously, especially if you’re a national brand. There’s a balance between remaining known across the country and also zeroing in on your service territories.

Once you have figured out the high-level “where”, you can dig into the “how” people search in those specific areas.  Usage and demand fluctuate significantly based on slight modifications to something as simple as, say, a keyword target.  But the fact is, there’s demand out there for all levels of geo-location.  The trick lies in matching the demand with the desired delivery.

How Do People Search For Your Business?
Let’s take for example a company with a large footprint, like AMC Theaters.  While AMC still needs to be found on a national stage, the service they provide is extremely local.  As anyone reading this article can attest, you can find a theater in your area in several ways:

  • Searching on your phone while you’re out
  • Knowing the local theaters because you pass them everyday
  • Doing a quick search from your computer or tablet before you leave home

Think about how you are specifically searching for those theaters when you are on your phone, tablet, or computer.  Are you using a suburb, zip code, or even the theater name? While this type of search is common across the board, preferred terms will differ on the state or even city level.

How Local Can You Go?
Now we’re really going to break this down. Say you did find your theater using a zip code search; by now you’re there and you’re trying to find your seat. What would happen to your experience if your phone was pinging a beacon to help you find your seat number? While there are plenty of theaters that practice assigned seating, this idea could go way beyond the big screen, too. Professional and collegiate sporting events and concerts could easily accommodate this.

But back to the movie, though, where you worked with the beacon to find your seat. Now you‘re sitting there, smelling all that popcorn, thinking you’d like some. So you head back out to get in line before the show starts.  Where is the closest concession stand?  How long is the line?  Are they offering food or deals that might draw you to that particular location? The beacon can tell you. For the theaters that deliver snacks right to your seat, that beacon suddenly becomes very handy for driving specific location marketing.  Say you don’t even want a snack, but suddenly you get a notification on your phone with a coupon based on your specific seat.  Why not? Now you decide to go ahead and purchase.  Kudos to the marketer who figures that one out.

With all of this in mind, you can see how easily a countrywide marketing effort can really be broken down into something as small as a square meter – and that’s exactly where the new age of location-based campaigns is heading. Certainly there are products and services that can be sold anywhere, but there are also products and services very exclusive to a specific space and time.  Your job is to put together the ideal configuration of all the above and approach the market with an appropriate mix. 

So you tell me, how local is local?

For more on the fascinating world of local lead generation strategy, including what it takes to compete at the local levels, check out our LeadsCon presentation on Engaging the Closest Consumer: How to Unleash the Power of Local For Lead Generation.

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