As the publisher of local guidebooks and regional histories for over 20 years, I traveled in the circles of local everything — local knowledge, local lore, local street cred. From the beginning to the end, I was surprised by, enlightened by, and in service to the power of all things local. It left no doubt that any enterprise could and should tap into the potent energy of their place in their outreach, content, public relations, and marketing.
This is where you come in. There are 30.7 million small businesses in the U.S. and they need your freelance help. Your writing savvy and editorial skills. And, quite possibly, the content powerhouse of all things local, which you can tap into on their behalf.
Why should you pitch small businesses on this approach and why should small businesses accept? Why should they engage a local focus, local topics, and sense of place? Here are the benefits I’ve seen from those who mine this area for marketing content:
It establishes roots and local credentials. Customers want to know all about small businesses, and their owners and employees. Who do they know? Where were they born? Why do they stay here? Which local people, places, ideas, anchors, networks, and circles are important to them? If they’re not from here—no worries! They picked this place on purpose. What brought them here and why do they stay?
It establishes a context. People maintain mental maps of their place that are imperfect representations of objective geography overlaid with subjective experience, cultural knowledge, nostalgia, and the like. Establish a business’s local context and help it make its way onto these personal mental maps everyone carries around with them.
It aids in storytelling. Customers more readily become attached to a business through its story. Tying a personal local angle and regional love into a compelling narrative for a business provides a double pull of emotional attachment for the customer.
People like their place. They’re proud of it. They talk about it. They dissect it. They compare it. They even love complaining about it. It’s theirs and that sense of ownership is a brawny intangible. Help connect businesses with the place they share with their customers.
People know their place. This is the matter-of-fact counterpart to all of the above. People have vast stores of local knowledge to call upon. If a business’s local context is known, it gets thrown into their customers’ massive databank devoted to their home place; likewise, if a business’s marketing triggers the enhancement of this particular knowledge base of theirs.
People search for and find grounding in a sense of place. In a highly mobile and virtual world, people (maybe even subconsciously) look for and value the grounding a sense of place provides. Emphasizing a business’s local connections and tickling that real-world-outside-their-door sweet spot aids this important, contemporary quest of potential customers.
Check out these following broad categories of local love, the most popular I’ve found in this area, to spark fresh ideas for your freelance writing for small businesses.
- Biography. Roots, ancestors, and stories of well-known current or historic figures relevant to a business and its place in history.
- History. Historic people, places, events, anecdotes, building preservation.
- Geography. Interesting features of local topography, weather, relative location.
- Lore and Legends. Ghost stories, tall tales, bragging rights, vice, scandal.
- Current Events and Happenings. Festivals, holidays, parades, races, family fun.
- Heritage and Culture. Music, art forms, ethnic heritage, local cuisine.
- Spirit and Character. City mottos, quirks, vernacular, esprit de corps.
These seven areas are but the tip of a massive iceberg. Bookmark and refer to this growing master list of regional hooks and angles I keep to help writers, authors, businesses, marketers, and publicists harvest this beloved content area.
Sharon Woodhouse is the owner of Conspire Creative, which offers coaching, consulting, conflict management, project management, book publishing, and editorial services for solo pros, creatives, authors, small businesses, and multipreneurs.
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