Inject a dose of 'localism' into your next campaign

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Consumers recognize that their money is power and, in increasing numbers, they are beginning to embrace the collective impact of spending it in their own backyards. They are often opting, for example, for family-owned restaurants over national chains, corner cafes over international coffee franchises and even grocery stores offering locally grown produce over the most price-competitive super-stores.

Considering that so many of us serve small and midsized businesses – many of which cater to certain regions or geographic areas – injecting elements of “localism” can be a boon to those clients' campaign strategies, improving results and cultivating a new breed of customer loyalty. Here are some factors to consider:

Use the “Buy Local” mantra: With even the most minimal wording, you can appeal to consumers' desire to support and improve their communities by patronizing locally owned merchants. Beyond the offer, the timing and the target, incorporating carefully crafted verbiage in the e-mail can mean the difference between an individual passing it up and printing it out.  

Don't forget targeting technology: Geographic targeting technology has never been more accessible or more sophisticated. When overlaid with behavioral data, identifying groups who have shown a preference for tapas restaurants on Saturdays, are willing to spend more than $50, and respond to special offers makes for a powerful campaign combination. In the case of such regionalized campaigns, “more is more” is the mantra – conduct smaller, micro-campaigns to select groups more frequently, test the offers that are most effective and see results improve.

Local can also mean social: A localized campaign doesn't have to mean there's no room for a social media marketing component. In fact, an offer with the right aspirational tone lends itself well to inciting social media interaction in the form of opinion and advocacy. E-mails can feature links to social media sites, or can direct users to a host website where they can access Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to comment on a local business they like and why they like it. They might even act as advocates for urging others to patronize and support their own communities.

Localism can take loyalty to a new level: Localism embodies an element of idealism, not entirely unlike the environmental movement. When consumers can be prompted to care on a deeper level, the loyalty factor becomes that much richer, giving rise to higher opt-in, response and redemption rates, increased word of mouth and repeat business.

A new generation of socially conscious consumers enters the marketing environment in larger numbers every day. For marketers with a community, regional or specific geographic focus, incorporating tactics that nod to the growing “buy local” sentiment simply means adding one more technique toward increasing campaign effectiveness.

Steven Bisbee is president of Cogster, a company focused on local deals and loyalty programs.

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