Local goes hyper in 2011

The term hyper-local has a lot of definitions. Some use it to define social media; others use it to define what happens in a very specific time and place.

The term hyper-local has a lot of definitions. Some use it to define social media; others use it to define what happens in a very specific time and place.

I'm looking at it a bit differently this year – as an opportunity to put local marketing into hyper drive. And I'm hoping that those of us who strategize and build campaigns will hype up local market efforts for brands, too.

Integrated programming that involves personalization and localization simply works. Just ask Groupon and Josh Stevens, who has been traveling across the US with the goal of living off Groupon for one entire year.

Stevens gave up all access to money and has successfully been living off Groupon, albeit with a bit of help from the kindness of strangers for social niceties (like tax and tip) and basic human needs (like somewhere to sleep and a ride to any of Groupon's 60 cities). While the program doesn't wrap up until May, it is easy to see how this campaign has added to Groupon's strong local appeal, helped its merchants, and has given consumers a fun opportunity to the see the site in action.    

Another reason is the result of our anemic economic recovery and record unemployment. These issues are forcing consumers to search, in their communities and online, for reasons to rebuild their financial confidence. How many cars are in the parking lot? Were the lines long at the supermarket? Statistics are fine, but visual and tangible evidence is much more compelling. 

Creating local buzz with local outreach is important. This is especially true if a brand is also helping make a positive difference along the way. American Express deserves a “shout-out” for the creation of the first-ever Small Business Saturday – a shopping holiday that encouraged consumers to visit locally owned and operated merchants. This is brilliant, and still lives on via Facebook. This year, you have to be out there.  If your brand is only living via posts or tweets, challenge yourself and your program concepts.  

Finally, consumers are creatures of habit. I read that nine out of ten unhappy customers never complain to a company. But they will always tell their friends. In communities around our nation and others, influential social networks are also connected by sidewalks, not just servers. Negative word of mouth is a considerable risk in fickle times.     

Above all, hyper local or local community outreach is one incredibly important and influential PR tool.

Alicia Young is an EVP in the consumer and technology practices at Ruder Finn.

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