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Almost every marketing book you pick up these days in your local Barnes & Noble marketing section discusses big stories in marketing; the Apple turnaround, issues with Pepsi, P&G, Online retail exploding etc. And this doesn’t include the specialty tech and internet theory stuff that is endlessly touted as the next "thing"–like Search Optimization etc. Not very many of these books tackle what is the reality for 90% of all advertising agencies: marketing for locally owned and operated small business. When Coca-Cola has an increase of 2% in sales, it might well translate into 500,000 additional cases for the month, but is it any less of a feat to attract 50 more people to dine at a local restaurant every week in a town of 70,000 than to increase sales by half a million cases of soda from a target market of 200 million? Those 50 more people can often represent a big incremental gain that puts money directly into the owner’s pocket. Most local business does not rely on moving thousands or millions of cases of product through a national distribution chain. Indeed, most local businesses across America are service businesses; restaurants, clinics, insurance agencies etc. They measure incremental success in the 100’s or thousands rather than millions. The old adage Think Global, Act Local is fine for businesses selling nationally distributed consumer products and services, but for the majority of small business and the advertising agencies who represent them, it’s best to Think Local, Act Local. For example, why would a locally-owned real-estate agency need to spend money on internet Search Optimization? They don’t. No one is going to be confusing Acme Realty in Fargo, North Dakota with anyone else. And that’s because small local/regional business is rarely trying to move huge volume of product across the entire country through different channels that can be difficult for a consumer to find. Plus, many web companies hype Search fees because they can make money on it: your money. If you’re a local or regional business, rather than pay for stuff like Search, you should be working to motivate much smaller numbers of people within a 50-100 mile radius to change their purchasing habits. If you’re a local or regional business that does not rely on a big distribution chain, remember, it’s still quality thinking and creative savvy that must be done on all marketing levels in order to be persuasive. Marketing on a local and regional level is often tougher than persuading ‘national’ populations that are already familiar with nationally advertised brands. Where most of the rubber meets the road is local. Make sure you’re thinking local when it comes to persuading local customers.

This Marketing article was written by David Hanson on 10/6/2005

H2M Advertising. Agency President.