In today’s world, the words “near me” are often typed into Google searches with a specific industry or business type preceding them. For many consumers, convenience is everything. And for many people, convenience means nearby. One of the top priorities for business owners is to market their brand within their local community. After all, it is where the majority of their clientele is bound to come from.

With the holiday season fast approaching, this is unquestionably the time of year to endear brands to the people most likely to support it. Here are five tips to help encourage consumers to shop local this holiday season:

1. Highlight the store’s location online.

Make it a point to showcase exactly where the store is located in all online marketing efforts. Send out e-newsletters that clearly state the store’s address. Highlight the shop’s location in tweets and posts to both Instagram and Facebook. As well, make sure the store address is prominently featured on the home page of the company website.

2. Refurbish storefront signage.

Although this tip may fall into the “if necessary” category, it’s important to point out just how vital storefront signage is to business success. Do random passers-by even know the store exists? There will always competing stores nearby. Even stores that aren’t part of the same industry may be stealing customers especially if their signage is brightly-lit and highly-visible at night. Consider making some changes to store signage if it isn’t attracting eyes as well as it could be.

3. Provide incomparable customer service.

One of the top ways to ensure more foot traffic this holiday season is to give each and every customer a memorable experience. It’s no secret that it’s much easier to entice a former customer to return than it is to encourage a consumer who has never visited to support the brand. Create memorable experiences for customers who visit in-store or online in the weeks to come. A good shopping experience will translate into return business even well after the holiday season is over.

4. Offer free gift cards.

There’s nothing quite like a gift card to communicate “shop here!” Adding a free, small-denomination gift card into shoppers’ bags will strongly encourage a return visit. Everyone likes getting something for free. With gift cards, shoppers are able to treat themselves (or someone else). In addition to encouraging repeat business, gift cards generally entice shoppers to spend more than the amounts on the cards.

5. Ramp up website content.

Not only will posting fresh SEO-friendly content to a website help it to rank higher in search engines, it will provide those “near me” Googlers to view the site more frequently. Blogs are great ways to showcase a company’s expertise. They also serve as customer service providers by way of displaying content that answers commonly-asked questions. As well, a regularly-updated website demonstrates that the company is forward-moving and innovative.

Local businesses are a staple in every community and their merchandise usually consists of quality over quantity. It’s these unique finds that add to the overall purchase experience. This holiday season, consider shopping locally and supporting businesses in the community, because when a business does well, so does everyone around them.

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