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  • Writer's pictureLauren Goldberg

6 Benefits of Local Partnerships That Can Make a Difference for Retailers

Updated: Nov 12, 2018

Think about the Friday night HS football game that the community rallies around. Or the annual 5K race through downtown. Or the local chamber of commerce who diligently promotes new businesses and network in your town. What do these have in common? At their core, they are community partners that can make or break any local retail store. Local marketing isn’t only for independent retailers. A sound local marketing strategy can help multi-unit retailers breakthrough the clutter and connect with customers where they are. Remember, 70% of sales come from a 15-20 minute drive from customers’ home or office!

As a follow up to my last post, “Local: It’s where retailers win or lose”, I wanted to dive deeper on how to create a kick@$$ local strategy that will drive traffic and sales.

There are two big components to a winning local strategy:

  1. Digital. Check out my post “Six Ways to Use Digital to Drive Retail Sales”. It’s a great overview on the importance of digital marketing and the key tools to build a local foundation.

  2. Grassroots. This is old school, but it works. It’s about being part of a community. It’s about knowing your top customers by name. It’s about providing someone a relevant & personal shopping experience, because what is more relevant and personal than where you choose to live.

These two strategies, when executed correctly, can drive exponential returns for retailers of all sizes. One of the pillars of grassroots, community marketing is local partnerships. This can include sponsorships of local entities or events, membership in networking organizations & relationships with non-competitive retailers. Local partnerships are a cost-effective strategy to drive awareness & sales in your market. Here are 6 benefits of local partnerships for retailers of all sizes.

#1 - Goodwill

This might seem like a no brainer, but local partnerships create significant goodwill for you in the community. A great way to let customers know that you have partnered with popular groups in the community is to literally put it on your door! Ask your partner if they have door decals stating that you are an official partner or member (This is very common with professional organizations.). If they don’t, go ahead and create one. Something simple like “Proud Partner of Community High School” or “Official Sponsor of Downtown Running Club”.

#2 - Improved SEO

I know this is about grassroots marketing, but having local partners can greatly improve your SEO and help customers find your website. One of the key factors in SEO is how many links are pointed at your site. When entering into a partnership, ask if you can get a link on their website. Examples include a Chamber of Commerce directory or list of sponsors for a sporting event. Quick tip - link to individual store pages whenever possible.

#3 - Differentiation From Competition

Most retailers are not the only game in town. Your products can be found in mass merchants, other specialty shops and online. However, a strong partnership can differentiate your store from competition. A tip is to ask for category exclusivity whenever possible.

#4 - Credibility With Target Customers

When looking for community partners, you should also make sure they resonate with your target customers. For example, if you are marketing a children’s shoe store, partnering with the local chapter of a young professional networking organization doesn’t make sense. But for the children’s shoe store, it would be beneficial to be the “official shoe store of Anytown Elementary”. Parents trust that their school has entered into relationships with well regarded companies and will be much more receptive for marketing materials knowing that you have given back.

#5 - Content Marketing Opportunities

Here’s another nod towards digital. Content marketing is one of the best ways for local retailers to establish their expertise and authority in their community. The definition of content marketing is “consistently providing customers relevant, useful information with the goal of profitable sales.” By having a strong network of partners, the content opportunities are endless! Ideas include interviews, educational tips and videos. For example, if you are marketing a sporting goods store and you have a partnership with the local little league organization, ask if you can interview the league commissioner about what lil sluggers need to do to get ready for the new season. Check out my post on the importance of content marketing for retailers.

#6 - Exposure to a New Audience

One of the least used forms of local partnerships is leveraging other retailers & establishments. Maybe it’s a holiday promotion where you can get a package deal of a restaurant gift card and a discount at your store? Maybe you each agree to put coupons in the shopping bags of the others’ customers? Even offering free samples to their customers provides you exposure to a new audience and allows your partner to provide value to their customer base. The options are endless!

I am a strong believer that every retailer needs to make a mark in their local communities. Who do you think does this well?

For a free local marketing strategy consultation, click here.

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