Marketing is all about finding, defining, and reaching your target demographic—but what if that demographic is spread out in a sprawling metropolis? Don’t worry; there are still plenty of tactics to engage customers while tuning out the white noise.
Let’s start with strategies from the Mad Men days of marketing campaigns, since many of those best practices still work. The classics, such as television and radio advertisements, billboards, bus signs, and newspaper ads can all connect you to your ideal audience. After all, even New York can seem like a small city because the same groups of people keep returning to the same places. That goes for bars, breakfast joints, and marketing platforms alike.
However, bear in mind that classic marketing strategies don’t always have the highest ROI. Take door hangers for example. If you’re operating a luxury dog grooming business in a certain neighborhood, it’s not very effective to hang door advertisements at every single condo. Many of the residents may not even have dogs! Do your research, get the data, and find out which households are most likely to have dogs (Hint: It’s probably the people buying that local magazine for dog owners—take an ad out there instead!).
No matter what your business is, it’s nearly guaranteed that the majority of your audience is online in some capacity. Nurture your social media presence and don’t assume Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest are the only options. If you’re in a niche industry with a complementary/niche social media platform, explore it. However, keep in mind that no social media presence is better than an abandoned one. Post at least three times per week, actually utilize your free social media analytics, and use trial and error to figure out which type of posts your audience likes best and the ideal times.
Don’t forget pay-per-click advertising. Google AdWords lets you stick within a budget easily, while blogging, guest blogging, and search engine optimization (SEO) are other options to try. SEO is an evolving set of best practices that dictate where a website shows up when someone queries a keyphrase. For example, if someone Googles “custom pies Brooklyn,” there’s a reason a particular website shows up first, second, third, etc. SEO relies heavily on content quality, use of keywords variants, and the overall quality of your website.
There’s also local SEO and hyperlocal SEO. In a big city, going local/hyperlocal can be a great tactic. For example, let’s say you own a vegan restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Specifically, the restaurant is on Alberta Street, a popular area of the city. You want to target the entire Portland metro area, but you should also make sure you reach the people within walking distance—those who are most likely to be loyal, return customers. Using local/hyperlocal keyword variants such as “vegan food Alberta” can help you climb that local SEO ranking.
Some tried and true tactics work much better in bigger markets than for the masses. Billboards are a good tool if your clients are commuters. Many major cities in the U.S. still struggle with taking advantage of rapid transportation. This is especially true in the Southwest and Southeast corridors. These commuters are captive audiences, stuck in traffic for an average of 48 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon. Use this time to catch them with a strong marketing message on a well-placed billboard.
Beyond billboards, placards on buses and in subway/elevated train cars are options in cities with rapid transportation. Boredom sets in quickly if you’re stuck in a bus or subway for 30 minutes or more. While many read and browse the Internet, you can still get their attention as they board/leave the train if your ad is catchy and concise.
While you’re at it, tap into talk radio. A drive-time commercial on a popular local station could pick up good mindshare from the right demographic If your target age range is between 35 and 50+, talk radio (and local radio) is still a popular venue. Again, your listeners are a captive audience for a significant amount of time while they are commuting.
Sometimes you have to get weird to get noticed. In a big city, it’s even tougher to stand out. Organize a flash mob, ideally at an event or location that’s brimming with your target audience, to really get noticed. Host a quirky event in a public space, such as a faux drop-in “marriage” from Elvis to promote your new bridal boutique. Put together a free event, like a walking tour, to promote your new travel bookstore. At the very least, you’ll build camaraderie with your team. At best, you’ll attract oodles of new customers—perhaps even for life.
The only marketing rule is to do your research first. Even then, the plan may still fall flat. However, there was a time when even the most basic of today’s marketing strategies seemed strange. Be original, think like your audience, and always make a budget before you spend. Happy campaigning!