Archive for the ‘hyperlocal’ Category

7 Hyperlocal Marketing Tools and Tactics for 2013

Image Credit: MarketingTango

1.  Use Google Zeitgeist to do trendspotting.

Start by downloading the complete list for the US and focus the top relevant searches on your geography using Google Trends. Top searches using Google Map include Target, Walmart and Starbucks. Find unique ways to incorporate these top search destinations near you into your marketing plans.

2.  Reference Yelp Top Searches to explore what local consumers are trying to discover in your area.

Plug in your geography and find out what businesses are garnering top rankings. This is particularly interesting for non-restaurant queries (e.g. cleaners, hair salons, coffee, yoga, sewing classes, Redbox locations)

3.  Regularly update your blog and website with relevant local content.

Determine what content is relevant to your local areas using insights from the tools above. Social media should be used to amplify the content that you are already producing. Remember that presence in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google + is not a substitute for a website and/or blog that you control.

4.  Create a consortium of local businesses that is the equivalent of your own chamber of commerce.

Meetup and Twitter are good platforms to do recruitment of potential members. Use your website or blog to feature local businesses and customers so that you become a hub for local activity. Nellie Akalp of Corp has a good post on Mashable that goes into more detail regarding local business partnership strategies.

5.  Leverage co-op marketing programs if you source products from national brands looking for local presence.

The Local Search Association (LSA) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau suggest that co-op budgets were being under-spent by $450 million dollars due to lack of participation. The LSA lists manufacturers/vendors that have funds set aside for co-op marketing. Subscription access to this database ranges from $189 to $245 per year.

6.  Do a free local event each quarter.

Offering services pro bono will raise your visibility and enable local news outlets to list your event without charging you for advertising.  Career counseling and fitness demonstrations are great things to offer during Q1 given the increase in motivation to start new businesses or new fitness programs.

7.  Start a loyalty program and listen to your customers

One of the big advantages that big box stores and national retailers have is access to customer analytics.  This has created a new wave of loyalty programs powered by “big data.”  To outflank your larger, well-financed competitors, you can pair discount programs with local knowledge.  Motor Works, my independent car repair shop, does a great job of this.  In addition to the “Gregbucks” program to drive referrals and repeat customer visits through discounts, they executed a brilliant promotion offering free grocery bags to existing clients.  Montgomery County, MD recently began charging a plastic bag tax for grocery purchases.  To help its customers manage the change, Motor Works offered a free grocery bag with its logo emblazoned on the bag.  This was truly a win-win proposition.  Motor Works clients didn’t need to purchase reusable grocery bags and Motor Works was able to drive additional marketing opportunities as clients took collateral (grocery bag) to the grocery store to drive word of mouth.

View photo.JPG in slide show


Creating A Picture of Your Marketplace – Target Behavior

Image 15

Image Credit:  Black Friday at Target

A couple of weeks ago, I made a last minute Thanksgiving run to pick up a few things at our local Target.  After I picked up some forks and other odds and ends, I noticed something odd – the Seventh Generation toilet paper was out of stock.  It was not a sale item and it was not terribly cheap.   I went to an adjacent aisle and noticed that containers for taking lunch to school or work were also out of stock.  Then, the lightbulb went on with this epiphany:

You can learn more about local retail consumers by observing what’s out of stock rather than what’s in stock

This of course assumes good inventory management and this Target happens to be well run as evidenced by personal experience and good Yelp ratings.  I started to feel like an anthropologist (or more precisely an ethnographer) studying the habits of the “Target consumer” and wondered if the Target consumer was the target audience for the health and fitness business that I’m assisting.  I also wondered if people who were watching me go through the aisles thought I was nuts when I looked at empty shelves with delight.

In the previous post on demographic research, I laid out a few key stats for 20904 zipcode residents .  Below are more additional pieces of information that I’ve uncovered to fill out a more complete 20904 demographic profile.

Silver Spring, MD 20904 Travel Time to Work Graph

This chart tell us that residents in 20904 spend more time commuting to work than most other people in MD and across the country.  Data from other sources like indicates that 70% of commuters drive in the car alone and most do not live where they work.  We also know that there are few retail shopping locations in this zipcode compared to other suburbs like Bethesda or Rockville.  This suggests that this Target is the store of choice for many shoppers in the 20904 zipcode.  To summarize,  here is what we know about 20904 residents so far:

  • More affluent on average that most Marylanders
  • More likely to be women 25-44
  • Have longer work commute times than most Marylanders
  • Shop outside of the zipcode given limited retail presence

Another important signal to the target consumer in this area is that Starbucks placed 2 locations in the same shopping center (one co-located in Target and one company-owned store) to serve the entire zipcode.  Coincidental — I think not!

Alright, back to my Target ethnography project.  Here is the list I compiled of out-of-stock (or nearly out of stock) food and household items.  Note:  The majority of these items were not on sale or commonly used for Thanksgiving Day preparation.

  • Plastic Entree Containers (small sandwich sizes, small leftovers)
  • Sandwich Bags
  • Seventh Generation Toilet Paper
  • Natures Own’s Bread
  • Kashi Go Lean Honey Almond Crunch
  • Gallon Containers of Organic Milk
  • 1/2 Gallons of Organic Chocolate Milk
  • Kids Cuisine Frozen Dinners
  • Healthy Frozen Dinners (Kashi, Smart Ones, Lean Cuising, Healthy Choice)
  • Organic Tazo Tea (green, peach)- 4 Pack
  • Motts for Tots Apple Juice
  • Pretzel Chips
  • Kettle Chips
  • Smart Water
  • Annie’s Pnutty Granola Bars
  • Skittles Blenders
  • Tootsie Roll Midgees
  • Perrier

Based on the above list and the demographic profile, here is how I would describe the 20904 Target Dept Store shopper:

1) Moms who are time-crunched and are concerned about making healthy, quick meals for their families.  

2) They spend lots of time in the car driving to work and driving their kids from point A to point B so snacks are essential

3) 20904 moms likely have the disposable income to make good food choices yet are budget-conscious and concerned about value.  

The next step in the process of understanding our marketplace is to translate our demographic profile into a persona so that we can more effectively market products and services to the 20904 marketplace.

Creating A Picture of Your Local Marketplace – Demographics

Image Credit:  Briggs Chaney-Greencastle Farmers and Artisans’ Market

To effectively grow your business footprint, you have to understand the context of the market in which you operate.  One of the small businesses that I am working with is looking to expand its presence in the Colesville, Maryland area.   In order to be most effective in its outreach methods, I suggested doing an assessment of the local area demographics and trends in zipcode 20904.  Several tools are available to find basic demographic data such as average income, race, gender.etc.  I would recommend using sites like and to compile basic stats.   Here is what we found:

Age and Sex of Residents in zip code 20904               Zip code 20904 races chart


The small business we are working with is a fitness business targeting women 18-49.  The Colesville population fits the target quite well

  • Median age (Women):  36
  • Median HH income:  $90k per household ($20k more than the statewide Maryland average)
  • Ethnic Makeup:  Highly diverse (majority non-white)

Demographics are good starting point to creating a picture of your market but this is only the beginning.  To create a more complete picture of your marketplace, you need to understand the behavior and activities of your customer.  We will take a look at this in the next post.

The Return of Hyperlocal

How do you reach a 1 mile radius of customers?  Nothing has bedeviled marketers and small business owners more than this.   You could plaster flyers on telephone poles, put up real estate style signs on the corner or accost the public with handbills.  I’m here to tell you that these strategies are time consuming, require a lot of energy and rarely work.  It’s sort of like screaming out of car windows in traffic to find your soulmate.

In a piece from Businessweek, pundits savaged the business prospects of AOL’s Patch – a potential source of customer aggregation for small business marketers. I tend to agree that the strategy is wrong – you can’t templatize local news and community creation.  Having said that, I believe the ideal models combine technology and offline methods to supercharge word of mouth creation.  You need the impact of a street team combined with the scale of mobile platforms.

Over the coming months, we are going to delve into case studies, theories and experiments around what works and what doesn’t.  Given that I work with small businesses including my own, Fitwell Training Solutions, I’ll share real-life cases to add practicum to the theory.  I hope you’re looking forward to diving into the future of our country – the businesses that surround you within a 1 mile radius.