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Why local advertising still matters in digital age

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Although digital has become omnipresent with more and more businesses focusing on online and social advertising, there is still a strong business case for local advertising channels. This is especially true for small-to-medium sized businesses based in a specific locality or region. Here are the top 5 reason local advertising is still a viable revenue stream for your business.


Many businesses may see their shop window a being firmly placed online these days. But where many businesses have diverted their spend online, an equal amount of small high street brands are still very much relying on a physical presence. In fact that is often the potential customers first touch point with a brand.

Therefore if you choose to send out a leaflet advertising your services with an exclusive offer to addresses in this locality for example, the recipients will most likely know who you are and what you do. They will also feel valued by being reached out to in a personal way. At that point in the purchase cycle you’re just reiterating your services, but when they have the need they are more likely to recall this gesture than a generic display advert on their social media feed.


Once the customer is aware of a brand, you want to reach them at their point of need. Online social advertising that is specifically targeted at a demographic and locality is great, but the real conversion value is in the power of referrals. This is where local advertising can help reach the consumer at their point of need.

Retailers are increasingly looking in to beacon technology that detects people in a locality and allows them to send them push notifications, such as targeted offers based on their preferences, directly to their smart phone home screen. At the moment this technology is very much in its infancy and customers have to opt-in by downloading the application to their phone, but there is no doubt this type of agile local advertising will be a feature of modern consumer buying preferences.

Having your branding out there in plain site with traditional signage and boarding can then provide consumers with that consistent reinforcement.

Referrals, referrals, referrals

Consumer research company Nielsen found that 77% of people will consider purchasing a product after they’ve heard about it from a friend of relative. Never underestimate the power of referrals.

Your local advertising and boarding is the advertising tool that peaks people’s interest. Your shop frontage creates footfall and visitors. Many online comparison and portal-based websites are increasingly faceless in terms of who the brand is that sits behind the listing, therefore this local presence is a great tool for generating referrals and brand awareness.

People that visit properties near those that are for sale for example may also return home and talk to others in their area, creating indirect referrals.

Trust the familiar

Local advertising creates an awareness of your brand in your local area which then ties you to that area and the community surrounding it. The consistency of your brands image will also breed trust.

Consider the value of community relationships, people buy from people after all. Being more involvement in local events, such as fetes, fireworks and sports tournaments, whether that is by sponsoring or participating, you’re getting your name out there locally in the community. Not as a direct sell but as a way of engaging with people in a social settings.

More formal opportunities such as sponsoring business forums or local commerce events, or speaking and networking groups will also help to get your message out locally in a less overt way than traditional advertising techniques.

Digital exclusion

traditional diary on desk with flowers to highlight digital exclusion

You may think that we’re a nation of digital natives, however 10% of the British population isn’t online and 21% of those who are lack basic digital skills. Therefore local advertising and branding can reach out to these people when online is not an option. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re considering non-digital audiences as potential customers.


Although postage and printing costs can be quite expensive a direct mail may provide a better return than online advertising in terms of reach and relevance. When carrying out social advertising in parallel, always consider how you defined the locality and demographics for your offline activities and which localities provided most fruitful to avoid wasted spend.

Best of both worlds

It would be naive to think that a business in today’s consumer savvy digital world could survive without using some form of online presence. But as these tips have identified, it is best to come up with a two pronged attack and compliment digital with local offline methods.

During prospecting, ask for the source of referrals when you follow up on new enquiries, so you can refine your approach. Then foster this locally with a combination of targeted online advertising and coordinated brand awareness and relationships efforts in your local area for maximum returns.


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