High Streets Initiative · 10 April 2017

Yell and Facebook forge local advertising product

Yell Social Advertising
Independent retailers can better target potential customers using social media

Small businesses throughout the UK will have access to a “highly targeted” local advertising product after social media platform Facebook and digital marketing company Yell partnered.

Based on research suggesting eight times a month is the optimum number of times to see a Facebook, the Yell and Facebook local advertising offering is aimed at helping small businesses “harness the power of social”.

Speaking exclusively to Business Advice, Yell CEO Richard Hanscott said the development is a natural extension of the work it has done on the adword side of things with Google.

“The use of social is growing rapidly, and we felt it was important for small businesses to have this opportunity,” he explained. “We can now allow a business of any shape or size to determine an audience it wants to talk to – and that could be gender, age or geographical – and we can put together a creative and get it in front of that audience eight times in a month.”

Looking at the pressures faced by small retailer today, many of which are being showcased in the new Business Advice High Streets Initiative, Hanscott pointed towards finding new sources of customers as a particularly big one.

Firstly, he advises making sure your business has the right digital presence – a website with the right listing details that is updated regularly. Then it is about performance local advertising to drive new business. Without it, he compared it to running an ice cream shop in the desert – it makes sense but no customers know where you are.

“Small businesses which are ‘immature’ don’t realise how much competitors are investing digitally,” he warned.

He was also quick to point out the importance of reputation management, which comes in the form of managing reviews and having an open dialogue with customers. “Quite a lot of small businesses are frightened with using review systems, scared of that one bad review. But you need to know how to deal with it. For most of us, if you see a bad review and it’s handled well it’s not such a bad thing.”

Like Business Advice, Hanscott believes there are some big issues affecting high street retailers – ones which reflect the changing nature of the British consumer.

“Big brands in this world of digital are able to use their muscle to invest in cover technology,” he explained.

“But we can help businesses fight back. They can be delivering advertising into the Facebook news feeds of potential local customers. If local independent retailers would stop to think about that and offer good local service there is a great opportunity for them to do well.”

When it comes to thinking about the advantages small retailers have over big brands, the Yell CEO puts it down to knowing a local market better. With this knowledge, small high street businesses can adjust offerings, adapt opening hours and generally be more flexible.

The challenges of remaining competitive, acquiring new customers and adapting to the changing behaviour of British consumers are the central themes of the Business Advice High Streets Initiative. We’re keen to hear your thoughts on the future of this British institution, so please take a few minutes to fill out our survey below.

This article is part of a wider campaign called the High Streets Initiative, a new section of Business Advice championing independent and small retailers by identifying the issues that put Britain’s high streets under pressure. Visit our High Streets Initiative section to find out more.

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Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

Business development