Often, small local businesses don’t consider branding. They believe branding is the domain of huge companies like Nike, Apple, or Red Bull. It’s the world of the Super Bowl commercial.
They feel at the local level, there simply isn’t bandwidth for brand recognition or equity. If a local customer needs a plumber, they just look up plumbers. If they’re looking for a new gym, they search for nearby gyms and pick whatever looks good.
This thinking is a vestige of the Yellow Pages. Back when a print ad in the phone book was the only channel most local businesses used, the idea of creating a brand people would know seemed impossible. At best, businesses created a good logo and hoped people would recognize their name. It simply wasn’t possible to scale the level of communication needed for a small business to create brand recognition.
But the Yellow Pages are extinct. Today, there are multi channel marketing opportunities that scale to any size business.
And, in fact, it’s now often the case that branding is the small, local business’ most effective long-term marketing tactic.
In Pursuit of Local Branding
Pursuit is a nutrition and training gym located in Windsor, Colorado. They started with Marketing 360® in 2016.
Pursuit is success story par excellence when it comes to local branding, and the data shows it.
Here is how they did it.
Step 1: Building Recognition
Pursuit started like every business does. Nobody knew them, nobody cared.
So they started with our SEO program (Natural Listing Ads) and paid advertising (Top Placement Ads). Initially, they made an investment in these channels to gain traction. The starting tactic was to target general intent keyword phrases like:
- gyms near me
- gyms Windsor
- gyms Fort Collins
- gyms Loveland
- personal trainer near me
- personal trainer Windsor
- personal trainer Fort Collins
- personal trainer Loveland
- nutritional counselor
- nutritionists near me
What’s important here is how Pursuit and their Marketing 360® marketing exec set goals. They weren’t creating this traffic with the strict goal of direct-response conversions. Instead, the main goal was to get people into their marketing funnel and start building brand awareness.
Step 2: Harnessing the Power of Retargeting
When people visit a business website, the majority of them don’t immediately become a client. But this traffic is far from wasted.
Enter the power of the cookie, pixel, and opt-in email form, all of which create retargeting campaigns.
Cookies/pixels are pieces of code Google and Facebook use to track website visits. This means that when a person searched for “gyms near me” and found Pursuit’s website, they soon found this banner following them as they surfed online.
And posts like this started showing up in their Facebook News Feed:
Notice the low-risk calls to action in this Facebook event and the retargeting banner. It’s not a sales pitch, but an offer for free nutrition talk and free open house to meet coaches.
From here, the opportunities to tighten the funnel continue. For example, Pursuit created one campaign for people who took the action of liking their page. And they created a Facebook retargeting video campaign targeting women only who were added to the list if they watched more than 50% of this video:
On Google, they refined their banner ads into an in-market segment, so their content would only display to people who had searched for the phrase “gym near me” and who had visited nutrition focused websites.
Through all this, the main goal is to create brand awareness. To create an image people wouldn’t forget and a name that will be first to come to mind when they finally decide they can’t put it off any longer and have to get to a gym.
Pursuit also does a great job of capturing emails with their high-value, low-risk website offer:
Now they can use email automation software on drip campaigns that continue to put their brand in front of potential clients, building trust with useful, interesting content.
Step 3: Track the Data
Over time, conversions start to come in at a steady stream. What channels are working and why?
A look at their top performing keywords shows that their branded name is killing it organic search (60-day window):
Are people engaged in their content when they arrive from these searches? A super low total bounce rate says they are:
Over 90% of their traffic comes from organic search (NLA), branded referrals, and social media (STA):
At this point, only a sliver of their traffic (about 3%) is coming from pay-per-click advertising.
Step 4: The Follow Through
Pursuit fitness seals the deal by increasing their brand awareness locally in every way they can. They team with other local and eCommerce businesses that offer fitness or nutritional products that complement their offering.
They created a cool logo, put it on a clothing line, and sent their loyal clients into the world to spread the word.
Last but certainly not least, they made a proactive effort to get their delighted clients to leave them reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Top Rated Local and Google:
A bunch of 5-star reviews plus strong branding is probably the most full-proof way a local business can build trust.
When you have leads making a decision and looking for you by name, you’re at a huge advantage. You’ll rank #1 for searches. You’ll have provided content that builds familiarity and trust. You’ll have offered proof that you follow through on your promises.
You’ll have a strong brand.
That’s what we call the pursuit of new business.