Lessons for Local Merchants in Hyperlocal Marketing White Paper

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If you’re strained on a budget but have your eye on growing your customer base, what’s a local merchant to do?

In “The Local Merchant” white paper, we talked to dozens of business owners to find out how they are using new hyperlocal channels such as daily deals, location-based services and hyperlocal sites to bring in new business at little or no cost — and turn them into lasting customers. The most successful strategies take these opportunities at more than face value, customizing them to suit their own business needs.

Our goal with “The Local Merchant” has been to inform and educate merchants on how to maximize these channels through 49 pages of  testimonials, best practices and case studies on successes as well as missteps to avoid. You’ll also get a closer look at some of the practices of the hyperlocal companies that, if they haven’t already, will be pitching your way soon.

How much should you spend?
Many hyperlocal marketing channels don’t require you to spend a dime. Create a merchant page on Foursquare and you can begin offering specials to customers who “check in” on Foursquare immediately. Groupon doesn’t ask for anything up front, and it pays you, but you also pay, and sometimes through the nose on loss of critical sales margins.

In our survey of local merchants, we found that budgets for a single hyperlocal campaign ranged from under $100 to more than $15,000, with more than half in the $500-$5,000 range. You will have to find what works best with your budget.

No matter how much you allocate for a hyperlocal marketing campaign, you’ll want to take a strategic approach to how it is implemented. Here are a couple of ways merchants are making it work for them:

More than just a deal
Many local merchants are finding success in combining daily deals with scheduling and CRM tools to achieve happy customers and lasting relationships. It’s well known that merchants have experienced Groupons that over-deliver the amount of customers a business can handle, catching them off-guard and leaving prospective customers disgruntled and their coupon unfulfilled.

Michael Lachowicz architected $120,000 in revenue and 30% repeat customers by combining use of a Groupon with OpenTable, which he was already using to manage customers of Restaurant Michael. First, he put tight restrictions around the deal — limited to certain times of day and a certain number of coupons available. To make sure he kept those customers coming back, he migrated their data over to OpenTable and kept the communication open, as well as using it to monitor their returns to his restaurant.

Targeting that delivers true, transparent ROI
Esquire IMAX is a movie theater in Sacramento that was looking for ways to get “butts in seats” as the saying goes. More of a boutique theater than the local multiplex, and with a budget to match, Esquire ran a campaign with the hyperlocal news site Sacramento Press when they came calling. Not only did the Press offer staff to handle social media needs, but it could update banner ads on the fly with tweets from Esquire, which often included deals, and included targeted messages for particular audiences. Depending on the film playing, the Press could deliver the audiences who would be most interested, rather than a blanket ad on a print publication. The campaign eliminated waste and let Esquire see who was receiving their ads.

Hyperlocal has become a useful channel for all types of local merchants, from restaurants to cinemas to clothing boutiques, spas and even banks.

“The Local Merchant” is a useful guidebook for anyone looking to effectively leverage hyperlocal channels to recruit and retain customers. For more information and to buy now, click here.