I have a series of visions in my head when I think about local marketing. The first vision is I’m at a baseball game, likely a Mets game at Citi Field. The place is humming – lots of fans, tons of excitement, and a significant amount of noise. Even though there may be upwards of 50,000 people, it’s highly unlikely that I hear anything any of them are saying. If somebody was trying to market their business in this environment, they could scream really loudly, but very few people would hear them. The people that did hear likely wouldn’t care, because they would be preoccupied with something else (e.g. the next pitch).
The next vision I typically have is me at one of my kids’ soccer games. At one of these games, there will be a few dozen parents watching their kids. There are a lot fewer people and a lot less commotion than the Mets game. If the same person that was trying to market their business at the Mets game did so at the soccer game, they would likely be more successful. They’d have a somewhat captive audience (they don’t care too much about the game itself, just the portions where their child is involved!). At a town soccer game there’s a lot less noise so you’d have a much better chance to stand out if you wanted to.
Even though there are more than 100 times more people at Citi Field than at the local soccer pitch, your likelihood of success speaking intimately with somebody is much higher at my daughter’s game than the Mets game. I can’t shake the analogy between a small business posting on Facebook vs. engaging with a site that is focused on their community or area of interest.
Isn’t Facebook today much like Citi Field? A lot of conversations going on at one time, people generally focused on something specific, and then there you are, trying to get your message out amid the noise and lack of attention? And yet we all do it. We are seduced by the “free” nature of posting on Facebook (and social media in general) and expect that “it can’t hurt, right?”
We seriously underestimate the value of local media. The Chief Communications Officer from Deluxe Corp appears to agree; her article in Forbes discusses the power of hyperlocal and why brands should embrace local/rural media in their strategy. In her post, she discussed the difference between a small number of national marketing campaigns for 100 small and local businesses vs. a single, focused and local marketing campaign for each of the 100 businesses, each one in their own community.
Now, the fact is that Deluxe, as a national brand, certainly wanted national coverage for their campaign. But, for each of the local businesses, that national coverage is mostly wasted for them. What they need is the equivalent of the soccer game – a smaller number of highly targeted people seeing this information, vs. a larger number of random people. This is counterintuitive to conventional wisdom by marketing people that believe that more is more.
For local businesses, “more targeted is more.” Local Businesses don’t need everybody at Citi Field to become a customer, if 20% of the folks at the soccer field were to convert, that would be a smashing success. So, if you are a small business and you’re thinking about how you want to market yourself online, consider whether you are doing more local marketing at Citi Field or on the soccer field. Which one (realistically) will help you the most and be cost effective?
PS: Happy Easter! And Let’s Go Mets!!