When you’re building a local business, it’s easy to get caught up in… well, everything. You’re running your books, getting back to customers, cleaning the floors, scheduling a post on Instagram, ordering new inventory, adjusting your booking calendar online, trying to find new customers to experience your brand.
It’s a lot.
I’ve worked with hundreds of local business owners and tend to see the same mistakes pop up over and over in their business. These mistakes cost them time, money, new business, and repeat business.
If you’re new around here (welcome!) we’re all about giving you easy, actionable tools to use in your local business to get short-term and long-term momentum. We’re your biggest cheerleaders and spend basically all day thinking about how to make your brand irresistible and profitable.
Shall we dive in? K. ?
Here are 7 mistakes local business owners make when marketing their local business…
I see a lot of local business owners posting and ghosting. What does that mean? They create content for social media, post it, and disappear. It’s like walking into the gym, scanning your bar code, and then going back home. Ok… maybe not quite like that, but posting is really such a small slice of how to use social media to build an audience of observers, customers, and raving fans.
Social media was designed to be social, not for you to simply show up with a post and peace out. So what does engaging on social media look like? Following your customers, hopping in their DMs, commenting on people’s posts in Facebook Groups, creating content that starts a conversation and then adding to that conversation in the comments, sharing posts (and tagging!) from people or brands that your own followers would enjoy.
Those are really simple examples of how to use social media to engage. We spend a LOT of time doing this with our clients and teaching about this in our Local Business Foundations online course and it’s because it matters 10x more than having a curated Instagram feed or posting every single day.
Ok, so you’re getting some traction on social media (you go!!!), but you’re measuring success based on likes, Instagram follows, and likes on your Facebook Page. Of course having more followers and Page likes helps more people see your posts (to a degree), but it isn’t necessarily going to result in sales! We have plenty of clients and students who have a few hundred followers and are making multiple six figures.
This really goes back to the first point of this post when it comes to engagement. Let’s say you have 100 followers on Instagram and 100 Facebook Page likes. Imagine every single one of them being your biggest fans. When you post a new product, they’re pumped. They’re heading over to look at it on your Shopify page or messaging you with their order eager to know when they can pick it up. When you announce a new massage service, your followers hop to your booking link and now you’re booked out for the next few months.
Most local business owners with 200 LOYAL customers would have a really solid business. So cultivate relationships more than anything else you do on social media so those local humans feel like you could totally be best friends! And perhaps you could be.
Who’s that person who buys from you on repeat and tells all their friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family about you? Is this person your dream client? I’m sure. ? So, are you creating content that specifically talks to THAT person?
Let’s say this person’s name is Emily and she’s a 30-something with a baby, two cats, and lives in the city. She loves oat milk lattes, colorful dresses, listens to business podcasts on repeat, and is all about self growth (hmm, this sounds super familiar lol). How do you talk to Emily in everything you create?
Maybe you’re sharing an Instagram Story about what you’re listening to in the shop or on your way to work.
Perhaps you’re sharing how you integrate mom life and business life.
You’ve noticed that Emily talks a LOT about travel and her desire to book that next trip, so you are also sharing throwbacks of previous trips or where your brand is heading to next!
When you think about your ideal customer in everything you create, it becomes a lot easier. You think… What would help Emily be more successful today? What would make her day a little better? What information would inspire her? What content would she love to consume?
If you have no idea who your dream customer is, it’s time to do the work my friend. Grab a pen and paper and start thinking about the very best customer you could have and everything this person does, thinks about, worries about, dreams about and so forth.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, here I am talking about email marketing… again. I can’t help it! It’s simply one of the best tools you have at your fingertips and for many people just starting, services like MailChimp or ConvertKit are totally free. It’s a mistake not to use email marketing because everything else depends on an algorithm or someone stumbling onto your website or social accounts.
I can hope someone reads this blog post when I hit publish OR I can get really intentional and send this blog post recap to my list of subscribers who are ready to hear from me. Don’t you think your very best customers want to know what promotions you’re running? New drink specials offered at your restaurant? Updates on your service offerings? Upcoming events?
Create a plan to add customers to your email list (or automate it with your CRM or POS system) and incentivize observers and website visitors to sign up as well. BTW, this certainly isn’t using language like “sign up for my free newsletter!” because you won’t see many people taking action.
Give your visitors and customers a reason to sign up! Maybe you offer a sweet discount for first-time customers. Maybe you offer an in-depth guide that’s SUPER helpful for people shopping with you. Ex: if you sell bridal gowns, you could create a simple download with the most popular styles for the year or sizing information no one tells you about that every bride should consider. This goes for ALL business categories.
Business ownership can feel really isolating. You wonder if you’re the only person facing the challenges you’re facing. You feel like an imposter at times. You feel… alone, insecure and sometimes spiral into questioning why you’re even running a local business?!?!? And guess what? You’re *totally* not alone, it’s just not something that’s being brought up very frequently.
What does this have to do with marketing?! Well, when you are surrounded by a community (or even a handful of business pals) experiencing similar mindset challenges or work/life balances issues, you realize you’re not a crazy person and that you TOTALLY got this. It feels really great to know you’re not the only person experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions that come with business ownership. When you can take that sigh of relief, you won’t feel as paralyzed.
I’ve found that MANY local business owners don’t act (post on social, send the email, attend the networking event) because they don’t believe in themselves. UGH! Maybe if they knew they weren’t alone or if they knew how awesome they actually are, they would show up… unapologetically and confidently. Don’t do this on your own, my friend. If you need a community of awesome local business owners, join Love Local Community it’s a Facebook Group full of local business owners just like you who will let you know you are NOT alone. And I spend a LOT of time in there focused on creating content that pumps you up cause we all need a personal cheerleader sometimes right?
Ok, I’m talking to myself just as much as I am to you. ? I love consuming content and learning “all the things” when it comes to marketing. But I can find myself so focused on consuming that I’m not taking action. I’m listening to podcasts being like “ohhhh that’s a GREAT idea” and then moving on with my day. Just me?!
I see a lot of local business owners doing the same. They’re reading articles, watching videos, scrolling through Instagram Stories, and simply consuming their brain with information… that they don’t act on. So much of your local business growth will be about showing up consistently and experimenting with the platforms you have (with purpose of course!).
Don’t just listen to a podcast and think “wow he’s awesome” or “I wish I could build a 7-figure local boutique like she did,” actually implement some of the strategies talked about on the podcast! And if you don’t know how, Google it. Get your feet wet and take action. Don’t just listen, read, or mindlessly scroll. Unless you’ve got a really epic passive income strategy in place, it’s going to take you actually doing instead of consuming.
Have you ever gone to a local Chamber workshop with the focus on blogging and then left with excitement about starting your blog for your local business? You spent a couple hours drafting the post, adding the photos and then you hit PUBLISH and realized how much work it is to blog? …and then never did it again?
I love a good workshop, don’t get me wrong, but I watch local business owners attend these and get reeeeaaally excited to implement ONE specific marketing strategy and then it falls flat because they don’t know how to integrate it into everything else they’re doing that actually generates revenue. I’m not convinced blogging is a worthwhile pursuit for a majority of local business owners for starters and unless you know how to write an effective blog and distribute it on your social platforms and to your email list, it probably isn’t worth your time to figure out.
Or perhaps you watched a YouTube video on how to do Instagram Stories and build your highlights, but you didn’t learn how to move traffic from Instagram to your website… where people book appointments.
Or… perhaps the information you read in an article is outdated (which how would you know?!).
These piecemeal efforts are what end up frustrating so many people in our Love Local community. They dabble, try a little this and that, don’t see success … and then start over again with something new, hoping it will “do the trick.”
What they need is a system, something predictable and integrated so they can build an awesome email list, an engaged audience of social media followers and… SALES!
If you’re reading this and are like oh yep, that’s me… that’s me too… yep she DEFINITELY saw me here, you are NOT alone. I’ve made a ton of these mistakes too! But when we know better, we can do better, right?
If you’re looking for ACTIONS you can take in your business immediately that actually work, you will LOVE our upcoming workshop, the 9-Step System to Build an Irresistible and Profitable Local Business. Get registered for this LIVE event and come ready to soak up some good stuff that you can use immediately.
My name is Emily Steele and I teach local business owners how to be the legends they are and build an irresistible and profitable local brand.