Top 6 ways that brands can improve their local marketing – The Drum

The trend towards localism is about far more than people wanting to stay close to home. It represents a full mindset shift whereby consumers feel more emotionally connected to their communities.

This has impacted where people want to spend their money. The latest poll carried out among 2,000 of our Nextdoor members – representing one in five households in the UK – revealed that nearly two thirds (64%) shop locally more than they did two years ago. Understandably, many small businesses have jumped on this as an opportunity to drum up support in the area – shouting loud and proudly about their independence. There is no disputing that local is king and it is key to building goodwill in the community.

However, the trend towards localism has also had a major impact on how national brands are perceived and how they need to position themselves in order to be successful. How can they make the most of this cultural trend? And how do they need to act and appear at a local level to be truly accepted as part of the community?

At Nextdoor, we help businesses engage with neighborhoods across the UK. Here are six guiding principles to help marketers increase impact and engagement in a local world.

1.) Give back

National brands are increasingly expected to go above and beyond to support the areas in which they have been welcomed to do business, with nearly three quarters (69%) of Nextdoor members expecting them to fundraise for local causes. Co-op is a great example of a company that is celebrated for its community fundraising – raising over £100m to support local communities. Other ways to give back include sponsoring football teams, visiting schools or picking up litter to protect the local environment. Modern-day consumers expect a two-way value exchange.

2.) Demonstrate impact

National brands should reinforce the impact they are having in the local area – whether that’s creating jobs or improving mobile coverage. Local people will be more receptive to brands when they understand their individual contributions to building a strong community. In the past month, announcements of store openings by Trespass, Screwfix, Hobbycraft, Card Factory and Home Bargains and have all led with job creation.

3.) Create connections

With people feeling more connected to their local areas, there’s an opportunity for brands to build more meaningful relationships by showing how much they care about villages, towns and cities up and down the country. This could be as simple as referencing local landmarks, offering deals for nearby tourist attractions, or using more emotive language in relation to the local area. Our research found that two thirds (65%) expect national chains in their area to tailor their products and services to the local community. Zoopla is a good example of an online brand that updates neighborhood names to further personalize its messaging and engage consumers.

4.) Treat every area differently

Every neighborhood is unique and needs to be approached differently. Urban audiences, for example, have very different lives to those living in rural communities, and companies need to customize their marketing accordingly. There is significant room for improvement here, with only 23% of our members saying national chains in their area show an understanding of local nuances. It’s not all down to brands, though, as ad platforms can provide intel to help them deliver the right messages to the right areas.

5.) Get to know the community

Marketing teams for national brands may find themselves guessing what local people need and want. Market research can of course provide useful insights, but it will never be the same as real-world feedback and engagement with neighbors, businesses, and public services. These are real people with real lives – not just numbers.

6.) Be respectful

National brands can find their place in the local ecosystem alongside independent stores. Tesco, for example, got it right when beer gardens opened for the first time since lockdown by taking out an ad encouraging people to visit their local pub.

Those companies which look after those around them, and find their own role within the local community, will build more brand loyalty. By thinking carefully about how they appear, act, and behave at a local level, they will become an important part of strong, vibrant and resilient neighborhoods.

By Paps Shaikh, EMEA commercial director, Nextdoor

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