Local content is a headache.
It's a difficult topic for many businesses. Small businesses aren't entirely sure what it is. They don't know why they need it, what they should be doing with it or how to create it.
Many small businesses feel they're drowning under the list of things they're "supposed" to do.
It's a miserable ordeal but it shouldn't be.
Because local content is a wonderful opportunity in disguise
Here's the problem.
Small business owners are confused about local content. Is it different somehow from regular 'ole content? What makes local content so special? The distinction is actually a bit confusing. Definitions are important, especially if we're going to learn about local content.
So, what is it?
Here's how Search Engine Watch defines local content.
"Local content... can help search engines contextualize your website’s niche to its local service."
In layman's terms, your local content tells people and search engines what your business, product or service is all about. Which is what most small businesses are already doing, right?
That's not what most small businesses are doing. That's not even what most large businesses are doing. Okay, what are they doing then? I mean they're creating content, they're sharing and syndicating it on social media. Isn't that what you're supposed to do?
Absolutely. But that's not what's happening.
The local content most small businesses create is essentially noise. It's actually worse than noise because it creates confusion, stress and anxiety.
Greg Gifford shared an example:
"Our Dallas Toyota dealership Toyota of Dallas is your source for the best Toyotas if you’re looking for a new Toyota or used Toyota in Dallas, Texas or the area around Dallas. We’re conveniently located to also serve Richardson, Garland, Plano, Addison, Allen, Frisco, McKinney, The Colony, Euless, Bedford, and more in the Dallas area. Our Dallas Toyota dealership has great deals on Toyotas near Dallas, so come see us at Toyota of Dallas, right off the highway in Downtown Dallas."
See what I mean?
This kind of thing happens all the time. I mean, couldn't they convey the same idea in a single sentence? "Toyota of Dallas has all 19+ Toyota models in stock"
Does this mean everything businesses share is simply noise? Not at all. There are quite a few small businesses sharing helpful, meaningful content. But these businesses are the exception, not the rule. Am I saying every single piece of content you share will be meaningful to every customer?
Because meaning, in this case, is subjective and heavily dependent on context. A customer who's in the market for a car or truck will find a discount, incentive or reward meaningful. Customers who just purchased a car? Not so much.
You can't control context for your customers.
Local content isn't for you, but it's unwise to ignore
It's for everyone else but you.
Your customers get the education and information they need to buy. Partners, suppliers and vendors get the data they need to help you. Reporters, industry professionals, influencers - they all get what they need to promote your business.
What does this mean for you?
Your local content needs to provide meaning and support to those around you. Creating noise, sharing unhelpful content, this just makes it more difficult for others to work with your business.
How do you go about creating local content that's meaningful? You create content that...
1. Has a purpose. Local content needs a purpose to survive. Purpose shows customers (a.) the amount of time and effort they'll need to invest in your content and (b.) why they should invest.
2. Creates fascination. People want to be awed, to be surprised. Research shows emotion drives attention. The more captivating and fascinating your message is emotionally, the more attentive people are to your message.
3. Is clear and concise. When your content is clear, the message and idea behind it is simple, showing customers your intent is to clarify. This makes it easy for customers to make their decision.
4. Depends on context. Your content should serve the desires, goals, fears and frustrations of your audience. If customers want your address and phone number provide it. Are they looking for a compelling reason to buy? Share one.
See the problem here?
The vast majority of local content isn't meeting this criteria. Am I saying your address needs to be so fascinating that customers read it over and over to themselves?
Absolutely! (LOL) 😉
Okay not really. Here's what I am saying. Your local content should be layered, in-depth and comprehensive. This isn't as simple as optimizing your GMB listings. Everyone's doing that so you'll need to dig deep to attract more attention.
Here's a short list of local content types.
What does local content look like when it's done well?
Let's take a look at Chick-fil-A to find the answer. Chick-fil-A is a fast food restaurant with more than 2,200 locations. They're well represented in many of the content types I've listed above.
Here's the interesting thing about Chick-fil-A.
They're consistently able to meet the four criteria I mentioned earlier (e.g. purpose, fascination, clarity and context). Even better, they're able to do it in a way that's consistent and appropriate.
They provide customers with contact and location data.
They claim, complete and optimize each of their GMB listings.
That's incredible when you realize they have more than 2,000 locations in the US alone. Next, they incentivize customers to write a review. But they don't harass customers for a review. They simply reward customers who check-in with a free cookie or treat.
What are customers more likely to do once they're checked in and are happily munching on a cookie? Write a five-star review of course!
What about local events in their communities?
Chick-fil-A has that covered too.
· They did it again for travelers stranded at the Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport.
What about Local PR?
A Fort Bragg army wife, sat down to eat with her family at a Chick-fil-A restaurant. While they were eating she was greeted by the Chick-fil-A mascot. The mascot turned out to be her husband who had returned home early from his deployment overseas.
Can you see what's happening?
Chick-fil-A isn't specifically looking for an opportunity to create "local content." They're looking for opportunities to serve. To do something incredible, fascinating or valuable for those around them.
Local content comes in two flavors, you need both
At first glance this seems daunting. Is it really possible for a small business to accomplish all of this on their own? Who has the time to do all of this?
If you have time to market your business you have plenty of time to create local content. Believe it or not, this is actually pretty straightforward. You just follow the recipe.
1. Educate your audience. Education attracts our attention. Most of us are curious and eager to learn. Education encompasses teaching and entertainment. The more you educate, the more customers are drawn to you. Teach your audience to laugh. Educate them about your values, their problems or fears and you have their attention.
2. Inform your audience. Information converts attention. When it's time for customers to make a decision there are questions, fears, objections and risks. Information soothes these fears, giving customers the data they need to choose. Are you open late? What's your refund policy? Do you take PayPal? Where can I find your nutritional information? When will I begin to see results?
Educate your audience, then inform, in that order.
Local content is an opportunity in disguise
Many small business owners aren't entirely sure what local content actually is. It's easy to see local content as a headache, another list of things you have to complete. That perspective makes sense if you don't understand the power of local content.
You're an insider now.
If you've read this far, you've seen what local content can do. The opportunity is there if you're willing to do the work. Small businesses don't need local content, your customers do. This makes it important. Follow the strategies and tactics I've shared and you'll find creating local content is a pleasure.