Capitalise On The Renewed Focus On Community Engagement To Promote Your Menu Via Local Area Marketing

Key points

  • Now more than ever, community engagement is a two-way street: you need to show your support of local business if you want the local community to support you
  • Sponsoring sports teams, supporting local clubs or participating in fetes, street fairs and fundraisers for local causes are great opportunities to get your business brand in front of potential customers
  • You can also partner with local businesses or look at utilising Electronic Direct Marketing as part of a Local Area Marketing campaign
  • Social media and local radio, TV, news sites and tourism/travel sites and apps also present effective means to build engagement

WITH LIMITED TRAVEL OPTIONS and the requirement for many to work from home over the past year, it’s not surprising been an upswing in local community engagement – people have rediscovered their local neighbourhoods and been encouraged to ‘buy local’ in support of local businesses.

This initially created new opportunities for those foodservice businesses offering takeaway and home delivery, and with the gradual relaxation of dine-out restrictions, dine-in businesses are now also benefiting from this renewed focused on community support.

Local area marketing (LAM) is an ideal way to capitalise on this new awareness and promote your pizza and pasta dishes to potential customers – but bear in mind that now more ever, community engagement is a two-way street. If you want the local community to support your business, you in turn need to show your support of other local businesses.

This can be as simple as sponsoring local sports teams, supporting the Lions Club or RSL or participating in local fetes or food and wine festivals. Street fairs, parades, music festivals and fundraisers for local causes also present great opportunities to show support and at the same time get your business brand and menu out there in front of potential customers – not only locals but also visitors who come to the community to take part of these activities, then stay to try the local food.

Here are some other ways you can utilise LAM to your advantage:

·      Partner with local businesses

Tourist attractions, hotels, local food producers and farmers’ markets, wineries and breweries all offer strong cross-promotion opportunities. You can also partner with the local chamber of commerce and tourism board to be featured on websites and to participate in street food festivals and other events in conjunction with local businesses. And you can volunteer your services to run promotional programs such as tasting events or cooking classes aimed at visitors to the area, thereby raising the profile of your business.

·      Integrate electronic direct marketing (EDM) within your LAM campaign

The ongoing evolution of digital media across mobile platforms has created a multichannel marketing environment like never before, making it easier than ever to target your potential customer base.

Digital tools such as ‘programmatic marketing’ make it easier to conduct Local Area Marketing campaigns by segmenting your target demographic into relevant sub-groups while at the same time automating the delivery of your communication.

For example, you can build up a database of customer names using on-site survey forms, competition entries or website/smartphone data capture and then use to send out special deal offers or discount coupons via text messaging.

Electronic direct marketing (EDM) is typically linked to SMS technology, and local print businesses are increasingly moving into the digital realm to ensure consistency of presentation across both digital and print platforms.

Today’s effective LAM campaign might include offering discount coupons via your business’ Facebook page, or in conjunction with restaurant review/promotion websites which cover your local area.

·      Engage your local audience via social media

With consumers increasingly using social media to recommend restaurants, cafes, pubs and bistros by posting reviews, photos of meals and other recommendations online, a strong presence on Facebook and Instagram with regular uploads of appetising meal photos can attract a lot of interest. These can be combined with meal deals and discount offers to drive engagement.

·      Utilise local media including radio, TV, online news and tourism/travel sites and apps

Other opportunities to market in your local area include local radio, TV and online news (or newspaper if your area still has one). Building strong relationships with local DJs/newsreaders can be valuable as they are often seen as community celebrities and attend local events which can provide further avenues for publicity.

Tourism and travel sites like Trip Advisor and associated apps can also be useful promotional tools, especially if you’re able to secure a high star rating for your business. With listings and reviews searchable by local area, they’re a useful means of showcasing your menu offering not only to locals but to people from out of the area who are planning a visit and looking to dine locally.