How Smart is Your Local Business Marketing?

Local market

Every weekend without fail, my local electronics retailer runs a flyer in the local newspaper. It highlights special offers and discounts and proudly displays “This weekend only!” in the header.

The flyer’s nice and bright and there’s a huge collection of images, from large-screen TV’s to computers to video games to smartphones and more.

Great, you might say. Can never have enough advertising or marketing, right?


You see, every weekend the retailer puts out his flyer, it’s always the same. Same products. Same discounts. Same busy flyer with image overkill and small text.

Because it’s the same, customers now wait until the weekend to buy anything. They sit by their breakfast tables waiting for the newspaper to be delivered, grab the flyer, and drive on down to the retailer to maybe buy a new TV, or phone, or games console.

While this is great for weekend traffic, the store’s pretty empty during the week. The busiest it gets is when one of the sales associates gets the vacuum cleaner out and does a round of the store.

Sure, you could say that the retailer must be doing alright, as the weekend business covers the quiet week, right? Possibly. But think how much better it could be.

Mix It Up a Little, Mix It Up a Lot

With very few exceptions, the retailer’s flyer has the same products and offers on sale every weekend. Now, this could be down to the fact that he has less of a relationship with suppliers than the bigger outlets. But he could still make his offers more selective and therefore more effective.

  • Carry out an audit on what’s the most popular product, and then who the most popular supplier of that product is. Then look at what accessories are available for that product. Contact the supplier in question and show them your information and what that relates to in hard sales figures. Then offer to promote the heck out of their brand for a weekend. Better still, have a manufacturer appreciation day during the week to show off their products, with offers only for that day.
  • Take the “less is more” approach with the flyer. The human being is primarily a visual person – it’s how we’ve communicated through the ages and it’s still true today. Instead of assaulting the eyeballs, though, highlight one great product per page and then have four or five smaller additions to complement. The litmus test is how your eyes are drawn to the information – if they go where you want the eyes of the customers to go, you’re on the right track.
  • Stop the regular weekly offers. When something becomes a regular fixture, we know when it’s going to happen. This takes the edge of it, and lessens any impact. Change the advertising up. Compare a weekday ad instead of the usual weekend ones, and tie it into a truly unique offer. The promise of the sexy sale that day will beat the sameness of the weekend flyer – try it.

Take It to the Masses

The beauty with an electronics retailer is that you can pretty much guarantee the audience – male, 18-45, gadget-friendly geeks (and I say this with nothing but love, as I’m one of these geeks).

The great thing about that demographic is that they’re very web-savvy too. They’re hanging out on social networks, online forums and blogs. So take advantage of this.

What People Are Doing - Inside Innovation - Business Week

Do the research to see where your audience is. Then market to that audience accordingly. If you find you have a lot of potential customers on Facebook, consider running an ad on there specifically tailored to your audience. The great thing with Facebook ads is that you can really drill down into your target audience.

Or try banner ads on forums and speak to niche bloggers about special offers that their readers can benefit from (obviously this works better if you offer e-commerce options as well).

I’ve used my local retailer as an example here, but you can swap the ideas for your own business. Yes, social media is international, but so many businesses forget that their local customers are online too – it’s not all down to simple local advertising. And if you’re unsure of how to market effectively online, speak to a company or agency that can help you.

The thing is, local businesses tend to market locally and with the same approach. A flyer in the weekend paper and maybe some radio ads, and with the same offers week in, week out.

This definitely works, and weekend sales might be all you need to get by. But do you really want to continue just getting by at weekends, or do you want to be a business for every day of the week?

image: Kodak Agfa

Sign up for free weekly content

Enter your first name and email below to get my free weekly newsletter with the latest posts, recommended reading, content tips and more.

(I respect your privacy and will never spam you)

Blog consulting with Danny Brown

    Share Your Thoughts

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Al Pittampalli says

    I really like the manufacturer’s appreciation day idea. –The danger of the blowout sale model, is it’s hard to tell if you’re building any brand loyalty. Or are people just coming in for the prices? I recommend turning off all sales for a certain amount of time (maybe for a month)…and see who still comes. Those are your true fans, and the next step is to see how to deliver for them a remarkable experience so they bring you each 10 more true fans. A scary proposition for a business that is always running discounts, but maybe a necessary one if you want to build a tribe that loves you.

    • says

      So true about the blow-out factor, Al. Yes, you might get customers in the door – but will they stay repeat ones? That’s where the gold is, and where more businesses need to be.

      Cheers, sir!

  2. says

    Very good post – as always. Yes, I see these adverts in our papers, too, but normally I think ‘is business THAT bad for you to keep advertising the same thing each week’ – I always think that if you offer a good product or service then the customers will come. Maybe that is just me – my perception could be wrong.

    Businesses should try unique methods if they insist in constant advertising.

    Again, great post. :)


    • says

      It kinda reminds me of the “under 500 dollars” schtick, when the item is being sold for $499.99. Seriously – you think you’re fooling us? 😉

  3. says

    Great stuff here Danny! I love hearing your points of view when it comes to business because you truly have a creative eye, but you base everything on simplicity.

    It’s really easy to see the power behind your advisory in this post. Simple, creative steps to generate more revenue. How in the world could anyone argue with that!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Hey there Jk,

      I once tried to be clever when describing a simple thing and it bounced right back in my face. So I’ll just stick to straightforward, mate. 😉

      Cheers as always, bud.

      • says

        There is a reason you chose Bonsai for your tree Danny. JK is right and I think that is why so many people find your blog and insights so attracting. I have seen some of the Slideshares put out by David Armano of Edelman and I think why are you complicating something so simple. Expect to hide from your clients the fact they are way over paying for what they get back.

  4. says

    Thank you for the post sir. I personally have been guilty of trying to build my brand without considering local networking and marketing efforts.

    I’ve started to address this with specific articles on how technology trends are impacting local companies and networking locally as well.

    • says

      Hey there Mike,

      I think we all get guilty of this at some point, when we get excited by all the shiny toys we can use. As long as we remember that the spinning top and Action Man are still popular today for a reason, we might just get over our new toy infatuation after all. 😉

  5. says

    Hi Danny!

    Yes, we have all seen these.. and felt the exact same way- why even bother to look at it again?! I guess I didn’t look at it like that, because hey, new (obvious) point!

    We, (I), am learning this, here on my daily rounds of reading, printing, studying, commenting and writing and fixing and tweeking my own brand new website. ‘This’ being the point of view that we are, all of us humans, individuals, all connected.

    The connection being each one of us, on the web, working at the local electronics store, a homemaker, a student… we are who we are, everywhere we are.

    The key is so much bigger than a bad marketing flyer. I see it as laziness- you(not you!) may “excuse” it as being local, but I am experiencing childhood lessons all over again~ Transparent (be real.), Honest(give something real- whether it’s a tip, a sale, a contest, information, lessons), Caring (treat people as if you and they are humans, connected in uncountable ways, including clients/customers), Respect (for myself AND others).

    Bla! Sorry about that! Brain overload! Anyhow, it seems like a simple mistake to fix. Why wouldn’t anyone want to, once it is brought to attention?

    Thanks Danny. ~Amber-Lee

    • says

      Hey there Amber,

      You nail it with two very important words – care and respect.

      Without these two, you might have some success but it can’t last. With them, though? Ever wonder why Japanese businesses are the longest-running in the world?

      Care and respect.

      Thanks, miss!

  6. says

    Local businesses can become so risk averse over time that they’re afraid to stop doing what they’ve always done because they think they’ll lose business. In the process, they forget that their practices might not be bringing in enough customers to cover the costs. What they should be doing is testing and measuring the effectiveness of a variety of marketing tactics and then creating an optimal mix for their businesses. I’ve thrown out many of those flyers myself…such a waste.

    PS – Danny, I’m only seeing one post in Commentluv, when I usually see 10. Don’t know what might be causing that.

    • says

      Hi Marianne,

      So true. We worked with a local business and it was so frustrating. The owner knew he had to mix things up, and he would for a while.

      Then he’d drop back to his “bad old ways” and then blame us because he wasn’t seeing the results that doing the new stuff were bringing.

      Stubbornness is the killer of so many businesses.

      RE. CommentLuv, I just updated to the new version and hadn’t tweaked – should be good to go for future comments. :)

  7. says

    Yes, you’ve written about something that has confused me for a long time. Why do some businesses advertise a “this weekend only” sale and repeat it every weekend? It almost seems desperate, doesn’t it?

    I am responsive to advertising that is creative. A business is essentially throwing out a resume every time they advertise. If it never changes then people have a habit of concluding, “been there, done that”.

    • says

      That’s the perfect point, Darren – consumers are smart. We know when something’s lame and uninspiring, and we’ll go elsewhere. It’s why there are so many boarded up windows in the local town and city centres.

      Ah well…

  8. says

    The number one priority for local brick and mortar marketing is the sign in front of the store. After that you have some great points here. Facebook Ads work great for businesses just not for Facebook. The click through rate is half that of traditional ads. But do you really care if Facebook has to serve 1000 ads just to get you the three clicks you pay for? That is their problem not yours.

    I still read the circulars and I get some sent electronically. What I notice is I mostly look at ads when I have money to buy something or when I am in need. The goal is to bring people in. The second is to sell and sell more to each person. A savvy marketer can work with the product mix to see what mix of sales work.

    Lastly go door to door with candy in the local neighborhood and say hello.

    In all seriousness they should possibly look at peers who do it right and learn from them!

    • says

      See, that’s another way local businesses could really get super smart, mate (tying into your need quote).

      – Build a database.
      – Store what’s been sold.
      – Make a calendar reminder to follow-up with a product that complements.
      – Tie in seasonal sales to that original purchase.
      – Send out individual flyers as opposed to hundreds of non-relevant ones.
      – Rinse and repeat.

      Is this perfect? No – but it might just be enough to separate from the pack.

      Speaking of packs, did you see the new option just for you? 😉

  9. says

    Local advertising is an area that needs a real shot in the arm. Some of the local ads we get on television are just humiliating – for me – because they’re on MY television!!

    We’re really past the time when this kind of lazy, irresponsible, pointless local marketing is acceptable. Budgets may be small, but brains can be big – there’s no reason to still have the “SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!” auto commercial.

    Glad I’m not the only one feeling that way :)

  10. says

    Health care professionals get stuck in a similar rut. They know they should offer some kind of “special’ to attract new patients, but they have no idea how to differentiate their practice from others in the commmunity — so no further attempt at marketing is ever made. A receipe for underperformance!

  11. says

    Great article.
    You need to mix up your marketing, run different discounts, new products, not every weekend, sometimes a Wednesday campaign, sometimes a new product launch (with full price) and so on.

    There are lots of reasons for people to come to your store, you can have a coupon day, a product show case explaining how to use your camera in the best possible way and so on.

    Running discounts gets you one type of customer and if it is every weekend that is the only time they will come.

    • says

      Daniel: I like the idea of a “product showcase.” For me, running a sale weekly or every weekend can get tiring pretty quickly. It sets a certain kind of tone. One that reads: “Meh, another sale, whatever. I’ll come back next week when they’re doing it again.” In other words, hosting a weekly sale gives me no compelling reason to stop in now. Make sense?

      As for the product showcase, depending on the product of course, that sounds like a neat idea. You can bring (potentially) lots of people in and show them how to actually use the product. Now that would be neat.

    • says

      That’s the biggest problem, Daniel – like you say, when you run things the same all the time, is it even a sale anymore? No – it’s just your everyday products and I have no reason to come to you. 😉

  12. says

    Hmm… I’d get tired of the weekly sales offers pretty quickly. It gets old after a while and people catch on you know. I see that with a lot of local stores around here.

    Like you said, I’d consider doing an audit to see which products are most popular and then maybe doing a sale once a month, not weekly. Just my take anyway.

    In terms of how we do this with our software product, we do sales when we go to conferences. First month free if you sign up. But the special is only a conference special. So far, so good.

    • says

      See, you’re keeping the sense of “urgency”, which is always a strong call-to-action for promotions. And you’re making it exclusive. Another great point.

      So why can’t all businesses do that, mate? 😉

  13. says

    Great advice.
    I would also check on the peridiocity of the ad. I could presume people are not going every weekend to buy electronics, and a once a month mailing ad would be sufficient to keep on calling the attention. For boasting up weekend revenues i would go as you online!

    • says

      Great point, Ignacio,

      Like you say, will people buy something every weekend? Probably not – so, again, do your research and make it really hit the target when it has the best chance. :)

  14. says

    I couldn’t agree more with the fact that social media is a great way to get advertising for local businesses. Trying something new, such as social media will help make your business stand out from those that just stick with the old age and not the new age, which is internet. If your not on the internet, then your business is not going to survive.

  15. says

    We should be able to create new ideas in marketing our products, unique promotions and advertising to attract the attention of our customer’s products.

    Like usual..great post Danny

  16. says

    Great points Danny. To me, this all basically breaks down into the following three words: don’t be predictable. It human nature, if people always know what to expect, they will tend to get bored, and boredom from ads is probably the last thing a store owner wants to achieve.

    On a second note I like the addition to the ‘Please check this box’ statement below.