When the media talks about a corporation’s decision to downsize as a ‘bloodbath’ it’s never a good sign. AOL, the parent company of Patch, has slashed the hyper-local news website chain’s workforce by nearly half. The future of the company is far from certain, leaving small business owners wondering: What’s the best way to promote my business to a local audience online?
You have options. The first place to look is at your own website, where the strategic use of copy can make it easier for local audiences to find you through organic search. Something as simple as mentioning your hometown in blog entries can have a profound effect. Video and photos can also play a role in how visible you are to local audiences online.
Part of the reason Patch is struggling is that much of the content they provide is also available on social media, through community Facebook pages and similar platforms. It’s important to understand what type of presence your community has online, and that you’re participating in it in a way that builds your business.
Finally, it’s important to remember that Patch was never the only local media outlet available. Explore other media outlets that are serving your community. Newspapers, radio and television stations often have both websites and social media presences; look for opportunities to provide them with content. Think outside the box: your local senior center, library, youth center, school or faith community may have an online presence that would provide an appropriate platform for your messaging. Think about where your customers are, both on and offline. That’s where you’ll want to go to reach them.
Patch was a great idea, and it’d be wonderful to see it hang in there to serve local communities for a longer period of time. However, if that’s not to be the case, small business owners need to be prepared to pursue their hyper-local marketing objectives through other means.
If you need help making this happen, give us a call. We’d be happy to help!