Small Business Marketing in Tacoma

How to attract customers as a local business

By: Peter Gray

By: Peter Gray

Before we offer our perspective on the ever-changing topic of small business marketing, I invite you to answer these questions for your own business. 


As a small business, who is your target demographic?

How are you communicating with and relating to that demographic? 

Who are your competitors and how are they attracting customers?

It is essential to know your audience and how you are going to reach them. This is marketing in a nutshell. 


In the spirit of Tacoma, I felt it was appropriate to do what any right-minded blog writer would do… create a cheesy acronym. 


Without further ado, here is your basic guide to small business marketing in T.A.C.O.M.A.

T – Think Local

A – Advertise!!!

C – Connect on Social Media

O – Optimize Web Presence

M – Market an Experience, Not a Product

A – Audit your Marketing Efforts

T - Think Local

“Thinking local goes beyond slapping that buzzword on your website and calling it good.”

The word “local” seems to be all the craze these days. Especially in the Pacific Northwest, everyone craves products that are “sourced locally”.

Thinking local goes beyond slapping that buzzword on your website and calling it good. It involves concrete action and consideration for the community you work in.

Especially during the past year and a half, other small businesses and individuals are all in need of support. In this way, supporting our community goes beyond marketing or branding, it’s just the right thing to do! Supporting local restaurants, coffee shops, artists, non-profits, etc. are all ways to help your community grow.

Thinking specifically around marketing for small businesses, you can create content that is geared towards your demographic’s interests. In Tacoma, a lot of our social content features some of the beautiful scenery from the area, sample work from notable businesses, live music, and content related to seasonal outdoor activities.

As a media company producing marketing videos and commercials for several small businesses around Tacoma, it is fairly easy to put out high-quality “local content”. For non-media companies, investing time and money in content creation is key when connecting to the community.

An organization that does a stellar job of content creation and integration into the community is We R Tacoma  As the home of both Rainiers baseball and Destiny soccer, they pride themselves on supporting their community. As a trusted partner to several local nonprofits and businesses, they stay true to the name.

One way that Gray Media has offered our support in the local community is through our “Old Still” music series  Through this project, we provide local musicians with the opportunity to perform virtually in a time where gigs can be few and far between. While music videos are a tiny fraction of the work we do, it is a fun way to support local art and market our services.

Thinking local provides a framework for all the other topics we cover in this article. Whether in your advertising, social media presence, content creation, or SEO campaigns, you should prioritize where your customers are coming from.

Here is a recent commercial we produced for The Harmon Pac Ave. In this production, we wanted to focus on Harmon as a part of the greater Tacoma community. Enjoy!

A - Advertise!!!

This seems like an obvious step, right? Surprisingly, many small businesses fail to take this simple action. You may have the most exciting new product, but if you are not consistently advertising it, all efforts are in vain. 

When it comes to making a buying decision, consumers aren’t willing to trust what they don’t know. You can familiarize customers with your product through an engaging and entertaining advertisement!

Rather than pestering people to go buy your product, show customers that you can solve their problem. Allow them to make the buying decision for themselves!

Your advertising should be in line with your branding and mission. Note that making money is not a mission. This is true even for a financial advising firm. Most financial planning commercials we see on TV are less focused on getting rich and more on meeting lifestyle goals. 

Some marketing experts say that it takes seven “touches” before someone takes your desired action. A touch can be an ad view, email open, just seeing your logo somewhere, or a phone call. Be consistent in your advertising and adjust based on what works! 


C - Connect on Social Media

There are several reasons you should be active on social media as a small business. According to PEW Research Center, 72% of adults in America are on at least one social media platform. Depending on the age of your target market, this number could be much higher.

Social media is a direct method to interact with your customers and answer their questions. It allows your businesses to keep the community updated on new products, hours of operation, and big company news.

Keeping the topic of local marketing in mind, allow your customer’s interests to shape your content. If you find that a lot of your customers enjoy the outdoors (as many Tacomans do) you can create nature themed content.

When attracting new business, consumer generated content is your best friend. You can attain user generated content by asking customers to share their experience and tag your business. This type of content is often the most genuine and valuable, as it displays positive experiences of real people.

It allows for both spontaneous and produced content that can be shared easily by your audience. The key is creating content that people want to share. Is it engaging, entertaining, funny, relevant? For a guide on how to create better social media videos, refer to our last blog post below.

O - Optimize Web Presence

This step refers mainly to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is the improvement of both the quantity and quality of traffic to your website.

A big part of SEO is search ranking. For example, if I run a Burger Joint in Gig Harbor, I want to be the first result to pop up when a hungry customer searches Google for “best lunch spot in Gig Harbor”.

Knowing your audience and how to reach them are two prerequisites of having strong SEO. For example, Gray Media’s audience might be business owners who frequently browse the web to seek out various services for their company.

Potential clients might search phrases like “videographer near me”, “video for small businesses in Gig Harbor”, “video for nonprofits in Tacoma”, or “best media production company in the universe” (well, maybe not that last one).

With these key search phrases in mind, we can create content geared towards these needs. Perhaps we could create a page displaying the work we do for small businesses and nonprofits in the Seattle area, showing potential clients that we are here to solve their problems.

The goal is to rank the highest for different search terms while addressing questions and needs that clients may have.

SEO is a part of the inbound marketing methodology. Inbound, as opposed to outbound, means your customer is finding and reaching out to you. Different elements of inbound include blogs, social media, SEO, educational videos, and more.

Outbound includes tactics like cold calling, email campaigns, or any other process where the business is reaching out to the customer. For more on inbound marketing, refer to HubSpot’s free courses on Inbound marketing!

M - Market an Experience, not a Product

This is an old sales adage that will always ring true. It is so important to focus not on the service or product itself, but the feelings and experiences associated with your offering.

When we produce commercials for local businesses, we always encourage clients to think about how people feel when they use their products. We use this approach in our work because people connect with emotions, not technicalities.

In our recent commercial marketing Tuladhara Yoga’s Teacher Training program, we focused on how a strong yoga practice can impact your life. The goal of this video was not to explain all facets of the course, but to draw potential students in to learn more. Check it out!

A - Audit your Marketing Efforts

Audit is a scary word. Most associate it with accounting, the IRS, and taxes. Fun stuff… For us, to audit means to perform an honest assessment of different efforts, marketing or otherwise.

Within marketing, you can audit your library of content, SEO and search rankings, user experience, and all of the above.

Marketing is always evolving. What worked yesterday may not be relevant six months from now! For this reason, you should often step back and consider whether your approach is bringing value to your business. Then, you can brainstorm new ways to market towards local customers.

After several years working with small businesses in Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Seattle, and beyond, we have grown to appreciate the importance of a consistent marketing plan for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Every year, video becomes even more relevant in marketing plans, and we are here to help. Feel free to reach out via social media or contact page if you have any questions at all!