Local Marketing: Small Towns Vs. Big Cities

Lindsey Weedston Content Marketing, Local Advertising, Online Marketing, print advertising, Social Media, TV Advertising

At Stevenson Advertising, we have two different offices – one located close to Seattle and the other in the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington. Anyone who’s been to both can tell you that they are very different places, despite being located in the same state. One is a large, sprawling city and the other is a collection of fairly small towns. Because of this, we need to tailor our business approach depending on which area we’re targeting. Big city marketing doesn’t work quite the same in a small town environment.

A lot of advice you’ll find about how to market your business, whether it’s small, medium, or massive, comes from the perspective of people who live and work in big cities. If you have a small business in a small town, or are just looking to get more business from small town or rural areas, this isn’t going to be very useful to you. Luckily, we have experience marketing to both types of areas, and have come up with our own strategies for each. Best of all, we’re willing to share.

The Basics

  • Values – People who grew up in small towns tend to have different priorities that those in big cities. Remember to focus on community, the importance of hard work, and be aware of possible shifts in political views.
  • Local Connections – In big cities, people tend to be more aloof and have less direct connections within the local community. In small towns, however, there are better opportunities to go out and meet people or hold local events. It’s much easier to become an established part of the community that everyone knows and expects.
  • Reach – It goes without saying that big cities have more potential customers than small towns, simply because they have more people. However, cities tend to already be inundated with ads, and so people are more likely to ignore them. You’ll get more basic exposure in cities, but in small towns it’s more likely that each impression will lead to an actual customer.

Traditional Marketing

  • Print Ads – Though print media is not as popular as it used to be, this doesn’t mean it’s useless for advertising. Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking that people in small towns are more likely to read newspapers and magazines rather than getting information online. It depends on the individual community. Just remember that the bigger the paper, the more expensive ad space will be. But there are small papers and magazines in big cities, too.
  • TV & Radio – There will definitely be a price difference when you’re doing TV or radio ads in small towns vs. big cities. Small local stations charge less. On the other hand, people in big cities may be more likely to stay up late, which means it might be worth it to go for those cheaper late-night spots. Also remember that people who live in small towns near larger cities often commute, so the time at which your radio ads play matters.
  • Press Releases – It’s always easier to get a story in a small town news publication than a huge one based in a big city. You need connections or else a really amazing story to get in The Seattle Times. But if you have news that affects the local community, you can probably get something in the local paper even without a previous relationship with the editors.

Online Marketing

  • Internet Ads – If you’re trying to market to a small town, this might not be the best option. If you want to try it, make sure that you’re either using banner ads on a site that people in town are likely to visit, or use a service that allows you to target very specific areas. But it’s generally a lot easier to target big cities like Seattle than small towns.
  • Social Media – Think that people in small communities aren’t using social media? Wrong! People in small towns are just as likely to use platforms like Facebook, and may even use it more often. No matter who you’re marketing to, be on social media! Age demographics are more important than location to determine which ones you should use.
  • Content Marketing – Content marketing is always going to be necessary, but the kind of subjects you choose might differ depending on what type of area you’re targeting. For example, if you have clients in both big cities and small towns, you might write a blog post like this one.