Local businesses have a wealth of content ideas all around them, because they are part of the communities they serve.
They generally know the concerns of their neighbors, whether that's the weather, the economy, or news or events affecting the city in some other way.
Local business owners have the clear advantage of knowing their patrons' pain points and what's important to them, which is much more difficult for enterprise-sized companies to mimic without relying on the local staff and, in the process, giving up some brand control. These are the basics of content marketing, identifying pain points, creating content to help solve them and subtlety influencing buying decisions.
Even though a local business and its staff understand its community, there are tools, of course, that can help them identify even more specifics about their current concerns or interests. For example, Twitter's trends can be customized by city to see which hashtags are popular for that community's users. After the NBA finals, #WarriorsParade was trending in San Francisco, in celebration of its local team's championship celebration.
Based in San Francisco, Jamba Juice contributed to the existing conversation with a tweet using #WarriorsParade.
Congratulations to our hometown @warriors! It's always fun having a parade in our backyard. #WarriorsParade pic.twitter.com/A9KW2HVinK - Jamba Juice (@JambaJuice) June 19, 2015
This local non-profit did too:
Big congratulations to 2015 NBA champs, the Golden State Warriors! #WarriorsParade #GSW #Curry #MVP x2! pic.twitter.com/h0n19489Bt - Adversity 2 Advocacy (@A2AStories) June 19, 2015
Further, a local business owner on the parade route could offer a #WarriorsParade special or rename a product for the day - like cupcakes or sandwiches - after one of the star players and then promote it with #WarriorsParade on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (although hashtags on Facebook don't have the same discovery power).
Finally, an infographic with quick facts about businesses or landmarks along the parade route would be a good idea for a local transportation company, which it could then share on social and via email. This type of real-time marketing takes some quick thinking, but 98 percent of marketers report a positive impact to revenue from real-time marketing.
Content marketing ideas for local businesses comes down to what to create and whom to market it to. Let's look at an example.
There are many reasons why someone would need formal wear - weddings, banquets, proms, etc. - and shop owners selling dresses and tuxedos would need to know how to take advantage of these different occasions. Local merchants should know when the proms are for the local high schools in the area and target those event-goers. One way to do so is through Facebook advertising, which can be a very low-cost (as little as $1 a day with the ability to set an end date), yet effective way of reaching select people near their business, like females ages 13-18 within a 3-mile radius (although special occasion shoppers will travel farther).
Facebook offers the ability to set even more granular targeting (which also reduces the amount needed to reach an audience), like interests. Local business owners can then create a call to action to "get directions" to get these local shoppers through their doors or, for content marketing purposes (which is thought of "free" content, not paid ads), they can drive traffic to their website where a blog is published about finding the right dress for your body type.
Better yet, to get an idea about what kind of "prom" articles teenagers in their area are looking for, a small business owner can go to their Google AdWords account and use the keyword planner tool. By entering a competitor's URL, like a formal wear shop's competition might be Windsor (a popular store for prom shopping), a local store owner can get dozens of article ideas based on the most popular searches regarding prom, like "dresses cheap," or "dresses under $100." A "Top 4 Dresses Under $100 in San Diego" sounds like a win-win content piece, it's a popular search and it offers a local flair. The author should be careful, however, not to stuff keywords into the article, but rather write for the shopper.
Regardless of how relevant content is to a local community's interests and concerns, a business will never be able to produce content that is as trust worthy as content coming from a consumer's friends or family. This is why local companies should really try to be creative about ways they can encourage their customers to generate content on their behalf.
There is something that makes every business unique, like a historic office space or a creative product. Merchants can leverage their uniqueness to their advantage by simply asking users to share a picture of whatever that is on their personal social media pages, perhaps even with an incentive to do so (like a 5 percent off coupon). A local coffee shop could have a sign near the register that says, "Snap a shot of your latte, check in on Facebook and get buy one, get one free lattes on your next visit."
Not only does this bring a customer back for a repeat visit (and likely with a friend since it's a BOGO offer), but it also shows the customers' Facebook friends the shop's cool lattes and their location (since they checked in).
Although the latte art in the above picture may or may not be a business that is located near a zoo, it presents a good example of how local business owners can market their relevancy and proximity to a local attraction, "Show your zoo ticket and get a free latte art upgrade."
User-generated content is especially important now that Facebook, which is relied on by the majority of local businesses for acquiring and retaining customers, has further limited how companies can reach customers on the network without paying for it. User-generated content is one way to still enjoy organic reach on the network.
By leveraging digital tools and their own sense of community interests and concerns, local companies can create relevant content that increases their brand reach, keeps customers engaged and gets local shoppers through their doors.