Connection. It’s something we all strive for. On a human level, on a brand level, and even on a digital level. When all three of these levels combine, you often get that feeling of being “wowed” by a brand, at least in marketing, and at least when it’s authentic. But while some brands and businesses aim to achieve this on a grand, global scale, there’s something special to be said for connecting with a local audience and building a loyal customer base from that place of local connection. After all, when the Internet is as wide and vast as it is, isn’t it important that your digital marketing, and your brand’s presence, speaks to the heart of where you’re from? And isn’t it important, therefore,to reach out to those who share not only your geography, but your ideas, passion, and experiences, too? Of course they’re important. But connecting with a local audience through your content can seem a tad tricky at first, until you learn to recognize the benchmarks you need to hit to be successful in this endeavor. So, let’s talk a little about those benchmarks, shall we?
One of the best parts about creating content that speaks to a local audience is the ability to indulge your inner fiction writer and set scenes with words that evoke the senses. You can describe a certain part of town, or the vibe of a cafe that locals will understand. You can explain the beauty of specific geographic locations (articles that mention the breathtaking beauty and ethereal qualities of Red Rocks, anyone?) and know that these descriptions will resonate as intended with your audience. When you’re trying to reach a national or global audience, these types of descriptors and scene-setting lose their charm, and can even be confusing for readers. But with content geared toward a local audience, this scene-setting can contribute to the connection your audience feels with your content. It becomes more relevant to them because it speaks to the places in which they live their daily lives. And as soon as a piece of content has relevancy for a reader, they are far more likely to continue reading.
It doesn’t have to stop at descriptions of scenery, though (and it shouldn’t, really.) As wonderfully flowery and evocative as those descriptors can be, they need supporting points. It has to help serve the purpose of your story. Overall, it can’t be expected to stand on its own. If you’re looking to take that local connection further, you can make other connections specific to your area. You can mention people, events, music, anything that lets your audience know that you’re not just pretending to be part of this community — you truly are entrenched in it, and thus, dedicated to serving it with your products and/or services. Mentioning other local businesses in your content, even doing a roundup of your favorites, can be a good way to let your readers know that you live in their world. It might seem a little far fetched that this would impact conversions or engagement, but here’s the thing. If you live in the world of your customers, and can speak to that well, they are more likely to trust you to know where they’re coming from. They’re more likely to trust that you genuinely know what they need and how to deliver it to them.
If hyper-locality is your goal, being able to speak the language of the small geographic area you’re aiming for is key. For example, if Denver is your target market, referencing things like RiNo (River North) or Wash Park (Washington Park) or Cap Hill (Capitol Hill) is a little thing that will take you a long way. When you live in the area, you get used to referring to things by their “local” names, and exchanging those names as a sign of kinship with those around you. It becomes a regular part of your vernacular, so if you’re truly aiming to be an integral part of that community with your business, it makes sense you would develop a vocabulary for your content that mirrors those localisms.
Relevance is always important - you never want to become the company that seems out of touch with what’s going on in the world. But local relevance is equally important when you’re connecting with a local audience. You should know what’s happening in your community, and if it impacts an area that your products or services can be linked to, especially if it’s a problem your products or services could solve, leverage that to create content that is both timely and extremely relevant. For example, if you make systems that enable businesses to bounce back from crises and natural disasters faster, you could (and should) create content surrounding how to handle the aftermath of storms, e.g. Hurricane Florence. If there’s a large piece of legislation going through in your community and your business is impacted by the outcome, write on that. The ability to stay relevant in your local world is about staying in tune and in touch with the culture around you. Know what’s making your city/state buzz at any given moment, and you may find yourself with hidden wells of inspiration from which you can create phenomenal content. The benefit here is obvious — people in your community are already talking about this stuff, you should be an authoritative part of the conversation.
Beyond simply using local happenings as leverage for content creation, if you want to connect with your local audience in a sustainable way, you need to be part of the conversation,even when you have nothing to gain. Be known as a voice within your community — and a trusted one at that. Get involved with non-profits that align with your organization’s vision. Do team-building exercises that get your employees out into the community and doing good. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind when it comes to serious issues that are affecting your community. Localism requires a certain amount of activism, to the point where you’re expected to have a voice. After all, your potential customers and clients will trust you more if they see that you have skin in the game, too. You’re fighting for the same things they are, you’re hoping for the same things they are. It’s all about resonance and genuine connection.
It can be tempting to broaden your audience when it comes to digital marketing. You have the world at your fingertips, there’s a natural urge to try and capture it all. But in all reality, conversion rates spike when you niche down. When you narrow your audience, you may be speaking to a smaller pool of potential customers and clients, but you’re also speaking to a pool of potentials that are far more relevant to you and your business. A wide net doesn’t always catch the most fish, so to speak. By honing in on who you truly want to reach, and being willing to connect with them from a geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic standpoint, you’re setting yourself up for not only greater success, but longer-lasting success, too. Shop Local is a movement for a reason — it’s more and more important to support the immediate communities we live in, so lean into that by learning how to speak better to yours.
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