A Guide to Marketing Your Bike Shop Locally
If the previous few years have taught retailers anything, it’s that the world of online marketing is not something to be feared. Rather, it presents an opportunity to harness the power of social media, utilise customer-led marketing, and encourage greater engagement and communication between your business and your customer.
But what many smaller retailers often fail to do is create a cohesive experience that bridges the gap between online and offline - and when your competition happens to be some of the biggest bike brands on the market, that can mean the difference between success and failure.
In this updated guide to marketing for 2023, we share facts, tips, and insight into exactly how you can use both online and offline marketing tools to reach the right audience - and sell more bikes!
Has your business got legs (or should I say, wheels)?
For small businesses and retailers, it can be tempting to stick with what you know and market through leaflets and local community groups - relying on an existing core customer base to share your brand name and tell others what you do.
But with Google releasing an updated version of its ‘Google Business Profiles’ platform, which specifically uses location to refine customers’ searches and results, the big world of online marketing can actually produce very successful, very local results.
Let’s take a closer look.
In 2021, 21% of consumers surveyed said that they used the search function on their phone to find a local business on a daily basis. Not only that, but with sustainability and customer experience now key players in a customer’s motivation for purchase and decision making, shopping locally has become a movement that is here to stay. All the clues point towards local retailers being more in demand than ever.
But how do you branch out and use online tools to reach and engage with that local audience?
It all comes down to your strategy and the way you use your various marketing platforms to create a relationship with your target audience - replicating the in-store experience, in an online setting.
Local, National or Global?
This is an interesting place to start because it encourages us to reconsider the way that we, as consumers, use the internet - in particular search engines. If you were a global business operating on a mass market scale, your marketing strategy would be geared towards capturing any user that is searching for information or retailers in the cycling sector.
As a local business, the chances are that you don’t want to be shipping all over the world - nor do you want your website traffic to be skewed by international users who will simply click to your site, realise where you are based, and leave again. That’s where your strategy comes into play.
Selecting keywords for your SEO plan which link your business to the local area will help to ensure that you are appearing high up in the search results for those users that matter. Remember that users are, more often than not, searching on their phones - so tailor your keywords towards local queries that a user is likely to type or dictate to their phone.
“New bike in …“, “Bike shop in…” and “Closest bike shop to me” are all big ones to focus on.
In addition, follow and create a presence in local forums and online groups - letting residents and visitors alike know who you are and what you do. You could even branch out and share advice on local cycling tracks and routes - capturing the interest of athletes and avid cycling fans!
Choose the right platforms
As a cycling retailer, we don’t need to tell you how important aesthetics are in the purchase decision. Modern and brand new bikes are expensive, and as a result customers want to see exactly what they are getting before they commit.
Because of this, marketing on visual platforms is one of the best ways to get attention and start engaging your target audience - with social media key in sharing your own content and encouraging customers to tag and share their own pictures of your bikes “in the wild”.
And that’s not all you need to know about social media.
Different target groups use social media in different ways. While younger users are all over TikTok, millennials are still hooked on Instagram and older buyers are more likely to be using Facebook. If you know your audience, you should know where they are browsing - and can create entire marketing campaigns and journeys starting on those platforms.
Engage & inspire.
Far too often we see brands and retailers out there who think that a quick ad or a boosted social media post will gain them immediate traffic and sales. But a lot of marketing is about the long game - creating a loyal follower base of potential buyers who want to be woo’d, who want value, and who need to be inspired before they make a purchase.
The competition in the cycling industry is huge and finding your place means pairing great imagery with inspiring content, value, localised marketing, and tons of engagement.
21st century marketing, and social media in particular, is all about building a conversation and nurturing a relationship with your customer.
Finally to ads and paid ads in particular. Paid ads allow you to refine and target the audience according to all manner of different filters - geographical location being one of them. As a small local business, this is crucial as it ensures that you will only pay for your ad to be seen by those customers who are in the right area and are most likely to engage.
Once you’ve got your geographical settings right, you can continue to filter the target group that will see your post, using interests, age categories, gender, and other variables to really put a target on who will see your ad.
The more specific you can be, the high your success rate will be and the lower the overall spend.
The best time to start is…
You guessed it - NOW! Marketing is a constant, never-ending journey - and with new trends, algorithms, and tools being released on a regular basis, you will likely find that your work as a small business owner is never really done.
If we could share one piece of advice with you for the 2023 audience, it would be to engage. As a small and local retailer, you have the added benefit of an authentic relationship with your community and with your customer base - so use it. Share customer photos on social media (with their approval), post in local groups, and become the go-to fountain of knowledge for all things cycling in your local area.