There are few words grandiose enough to describe how dramatically the internet has changed business in the 21st century. Today, at least 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before making any purchase, necessitating nearly every industry’s move to the web.
Additionally, the ability to reach consumers around the world through digital marketing and e-commerce has forever broadened most companies’ target audiences, creating an enormous global marketplace unlike any other in history.
Yet, even as businesses strive to make a name in international commerce, there remains value in marketing closer to home. Though businesses shouldn’t abandon their global dreams, local marketing remains as important as ever for achieving success.
The Power of the Local Economy
Though most of the world has largely recovered from the global economic crisis, businesses (and legislators) learned much from the recent recession. In particular, researchers uncovered a trend in behavior during troubled economic times: When money is scarce, consumers become protective of their local economies, and interest in global power decreases. Thus, businesses with strong local reputations thrived ― or at least survived while their faceless international competitors felt the force of economic downturn.
However, even in good times, consumers seem to prefer familiar buying local. Global retailers find that 90 percent of their profits come from the sale of local brands and produce, as these products appeal most to specific community needs. Further, recent consumer trends have called the quality of global brands into question; more and more consumers are willing to pay extra for local goods and services that are known to be clean and beneficial to the environment and community. Thus, engaging in local marketing efforts of any type is perhaps the most advantageous way to become a trustworthy (and successful) global brand.
Local Marketing Options
While marketing takes on all sorts of new shapes thanks to the ever-changing internet, historical advertising strategies remain some of the best for attracting local attention. For example, joining the local chamber of commerce to rub elbows with other local businesses, inserting fliers or pamphlets in local publications, and hosting community events will build interest and spread awareness within local areas.
Still, it is possible ― and advisable ― to use the web to further a business’s local marketing goals. Optimizing website content for local keywords is one of the most effective strategies, as it improves the likelihood of local web users finding and purchasing from a business. Social media is another outstanding tool for reaching out to local audiences.
No matter a business’s preferred local marketing strategy, it is always beneficial to contract a local marketing agency. Marketers in particular regions understand local culture better than a global business ever could, providing businesses a leg-up in generating local interest. For instance, businesses attempting to break into the northern Florida market would gain less from an international marketing firm than from a local agency such as Frankel Media in Gainesville. As natives, local marketers understand the perfect ways to ingratiate businesses with the community.
Global Brands Act Local
Most business owners crave the notoriety and authority of the global brands, and in chasing that desire, they forget the importance of local marketing. Meanwhile, many of the world’s biggest businesses found success thanks to their emphasis connecting with local communities.
McDonald’s serves almost 70 million customers every day in 121 countries, making the fast food behemoth truly global. Yet, not every McDonald’s is exactly the same. In China, restaurants contain “McExpress” counters that sell only small to-go items, like drinks and ice creams, and in Australia, meals in McDonalds are brought to patrons on high-quality wooden boards rather than plastic trays.
The chain also adapts its menus to local tastes; most people are familiar with the infamous French Royale With Cheese (kin to the American Quarter-Pounder), but there are many other cultural varieties, like Japan’s shrimp sandwich, India’s curry pan, and Malaysia’s BuburAyamMcD. Moreover, McDonald’s does its best to source its supplies from local providers, which serves to boost local economies everywhere.
McDonald’s isn’t alone in this strategy. Banks like HSBC value the combination of local workers and global networks, and even technology firms like IBM work closely with local governments and reward employees for engaging with their community. Though globalization is certainly not slowing down, most enduring international brands understand the importance of becoming prominent in local neighborhoods. That’s why local marketing remains imperative even in this global age.