A Boots-on-the-Ground Approach to Connecting with Consumers
America is truly a melting pot, so finding a universal marketing strategy can be a daunting task for brands. East coast, west coast, old, young, rich, poor—the market segmentation can go on and on and on.
While it can make sense to do higher-level branding on a national level, sometimes it makes more sense to get boots on the ground and connect with your audience on a local level.
Getting local marketing right means going where your customers live and speaking to them in their own language, with culturally relevant messaging. Getting it wrong can lead to alienated customers and lost sales.
When you get down to the local level, it becomes clear that different areas each have their own unique set of values, beliefs, problems and interests. That means marketing efforts need to be adjusted to address those differences.
For example, an ad campaign in one area might be embraced as irreverent and funny, while the same campaign could be offensive in another area. Understanding the traditions, belief systems, and current events that impact the area you’re venturing into will help you avoid appearing culturally insensitive.
Working with Locals
“Getting local means being truly authentic to the area you’re working in,” says Jeremy Troutt, TRAFFIK’s Creative Director. “Get the locals involved in the process, from finding the right shooting locations to brainstorming about what your brand can mean for their community.”
Jeremy cautions against resorting to stock photography. Instead, he suggests working with local talent to better represent the communities in which you’re working. He also advises against falling into the trap of using clichés when working at a local level. Jeremy explains, “The reason local marketing works is because of authenticity. That’s why, for example, if you’re targeting San Diego for an ad campaign, the answer for San Diego is not necessarily pictures of surfers. Millions of non-surfers also live in San Diego and don’t identify with surfing. Finding the people and things at the heart of each locality is the best way to make your campaigns feel genuine.
While we may think of the celebs filling our Instagram feeds with selfies as the only influencers out there, micro-influencers can have a surprisingly big impact on individual localities. Rather than courting people with hundreds of thousands of followers, it pays to focus on influencers who have built smaller, more engaged communities. Influencers can be on social channels and blogs and can include journalists and reporters as well.
Local publications can also offer micro-targeted reach since they typically garner loyal followings in towns and communities across the country. Shane Kimsey, TRAFFIK’s Director of Operations, offers an example: “When we were developing our media plan to reach a Medicare audience in the Long Beach area, we bought very local publications like the Long Beach Grunion, instead of the Los Angeles Times. In this case, it proved to be a more nuanced outreach strategy that was more effective in getting the results we were looking for.”
Put in the Hard Work
With so much audience diversity, connecting with customers on a local level can be a smart way to build your brand and generate leads. Just make sure you get down into the trenches and communicate in a way that shows your audience you did the hard work of getting to know who they really are.