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10 tips to Market Small and Medium-Sized Businesses in the Community



Small businesses often have more challenges marketing their business than larger enterprises, not least because their budgets and resources won’t stretch as far. And COVID didn’t help, either.

But small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are our local heroes. They’re the businesses that employ us, provide us with the services and products we need, and engage in our communities.

According to Statistics Canada, small businesses made up 98.1% of all employer businesses in Canada in 2021, employing 10.3 million people, while medium-sized businesses employed 3.4 million people. Together, they play an important role in the economy.

And times have been tough, and it’s more important than ever for SMBs to have a strong marketing plan to build their customer base and increase revenue.

The Benefits of Community Marketing

Using community advertising is a great way to do this, and we’ll share some tips below on how to do this while maximizing your SMB marketing dollars as a small business in the US and Canada.

Many marketing plans will focus on quickly getting new customers, but community marketing focuses on relationship-building. It’s about building communication, engagement, and loyalty—priceless attributes that any company needs.

Community marketing can align your brand by creating a strong sense of connection and belonging in a community—i.e, a solid social experience in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Gen Z, especially, are more value-driven than previous generations and want to connect authentically with brands. And community marketing is the perfect way to reach them.

Here are our tips for a strong SMB community marketing plan.

1. Set your targets to measure success

SMBs will often use their marketing budget on an as-needed basis, so getting every bang possible for your buck in a marketing campaign is even more important.

For it to succeed, you need to know what that measure of success is. Finding the endgame for the campaign and what you really want the outcome to be will inform how you refine and repeat it.

Is the goal to increase brand awareness, grow the number of customers, or strengthen the bonds of existing customers in the local market?

The key is to prioritize the goal based on need and determine what success looks like for the campaign.

2. Know your audience

Tapping into the community can yield enormous benefits, especially if you know your audience.

Any demographics, such as location, age, interests, and income, will be helpful, as it will help you determine how to reach your target audience. But there’s more when it comes to community marketing.

What does this community value? What brings it together?

Often, communities come together around sports, local arenas, and sports facilities, which offer considerable opportunities to SMB marketers, as they tend to attract a large and diverse local demographic.

Finding where your target audience assembles in a community and advertising in a meaningful way in places they enjoy and care for will align your brand with these positive moments and locations.

3. Make the most of Google’s free products

When it comes to SMB community marketing, many often need to pay more attention to the powerful yet free Google My Business, which is now known as Google Business Profile.

With this Google service, businesses can reach local customers through Google Search and Maps.

It’s incredibly helpful to increase visibility on Google and to increase or improve your ratings and credibility with reviews (something millennials and Gen Z use enormously in purchasing journeys).

That indispensable online presence—along with your website—can perfectly complement your community advertising campaigns when you’re targeting local customers.

For example, if you’re advertising in the community, you can integrate your local campaign with a wider national online one (more on this below!).

3. Choose your social channels wisely

As an SMB, you might not be making the most of social media, as it requires significant resources.

You may be tempted to have an account on all social media channels and be scrambling to keep those up-to-date and interesting.

But there may not be time and budget to do this well.

So, instead, analyze your current channels and find out which ones offer the highest number of engagements.

Then, focus on your target audience and where they tend to be.

For example, if you are targeting families, a great place to start may be on Facebook, where the parents of Gen Z are currently hanging out.

If you’re trying to reach children, maybe TikTok is a better place.

Choosing one or two channels and doing those well will yield far greater results than engaging only sporadically on many platforms.

Engage with locals by publicly liking, commenting, and responding to events like sports games, parades, and other events in the community.

And if you’re already advertising in sports arenas and recreational facilities, integrate the campaign with your online social channels for maximum engagement.

Use the 60/30/10 rule, with 60% of posts on engaging content, 30% reshared from other places, and 10% promotion/sales content.

4. Find the niche and monetize it

To stand out, you need to find your niche.

Finding your niche is about cutting through the noise by making your brand relevant to that community.

For example, you could find ways to personalize your product or service for, e.g., soccer mums and dads who support their kids’ games, and make your campaign relevant to that group.

This will help build deeper connections as the niche recognizes the value and relevance of your brand.

Finding ways to monetize the community niche as a new revenue stream can also build good credibility for taking your marketing efforts further afield.

5. Create shareable content

Lead with expertise. Today’s audiences (and communities) enjoy sharing content, which helps them build links with other like-minded people.

Effective content should be engaging enough that people will want to share it.

Use your community marketing campaigns to tie into what’s happening in the community and create compelling content around that.

For example, is there a highly anticipated sports game being played soon? Consider sports advertising with a fun and relevant message that supporters will want to share with other fans.

Consider making videos, tutorials, webinars, and blogs, or use advertising opportunities to promote educational or thought leadership content from the community.

This is an interesting method of showing authenticity and value to prospective customers.

6. Be present in the community

SMBs are the lifeblood of a community. Their advertising in local venues is what keeps money flowing through a community.

They support local charity efforts, sponsor events, and attract business to the community.

Community recreation centres and sports areas offer an excellent opportunity to be present in the community to show that you care.

These facilities are high-traffic areas where families come to cheer their teams, and advertising there reaches people when they are at their best, spending leisure time and enjoying themselves.

As an SMB, you can advertise in a sports community centre with messages of support to a local team, showcase your products or services, and show value.

7. Integrate your campaigns

Make the most of local events by using integrated marketing campaigns.

Integrated marketing isn’t out of reach for SMBs. It’s about ensuring your messages across all your marketing channels are consistent.

It can be easy to lose control of the message on social media, for example, or promote something on a direct mail campaign but not on the website.

Keeping the same visual aesthetics, the same offers, and the same voice across every customer touchpoint will increase brand awareness, whether it’s for your billboard ad, your website, or your in-store experience.

8. Leverage local brand ambassadors

Word of mouth is priceless, and community marketing offers opportunities to turn your local brand ambassadors into ambassadors.

If you can find trusted individuals in your community who value your brand, you can engage with them and create a mutually beneficial relationship.

This can lead to more user-generated content (UGC), either from your ambassador or their followers, and reward loyal clients (by making them feel part of the team).

UGC is more credible, as followers can relate better to peers than to SMBs themselves.

9. Offer value & use repetitive advertising

You’ll have better engagement with the community if you can bring value when it comes to your advertising and marketing.

This helps you stand out and be seen as a more integrated part of the community and, therefore, more memorable.

When you’re advertising in a community, think of how you can add value. Perhaps it’s by sponsoring an event at the community centre, or maybe it’s by promoting a local sports team at a sports arena.

Whatever way you do it, make sure your message is repeatable and repeated. Marketers often use the word ‘effective frequency’, the time it takes someone to hear/see your message before it’s absorbed or remembered.

So think simpler message, more often.

It’s better for your advertising to be in front of 20,000 five times than in front of 100,000 once.

10. Create emotional bonds

You can maximize your SMB marketing by creating strong emotional connections with your target audience.

Emotional marketing works, and it works wonderfully in communities.

Emotions are always heightened at sports centres, arenas, and recreational facilities. That energy can be leveraged by placing ads in these venues to make captive audiences remember your brand, share your content, and become loyal customers.

Is it time for your SMB to add community marketing to your strategy?

Let Rec Media help you get there. We can:

✅ Increase your visibility at local, regional, and national venues with terrific CSR opportunities

✅ Help make your SMB marketing easier with one-stop shop aggregation and execution

✅ Guide you with our more than 25 years of experience and expertise solely in this space

Connect with us for a quote  🎉


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Glenda is an account director with a background in sales and market research. Her passion lies in audience research and finding the best way to reach consumers. With Rec Media, that can be through large national campaigns focused on brand awareness, or local place-based media initiatives focused on regional sales. With over 15 years in the industry, she has partnered closely with a wide variety of clients, including: small non-profits, local government agencies, finance, insurance, retail, restaurant and auto service businesses. In her free time she loves to spend time outdoors, whether that is enjoying time at the beach or trail running on the North Shore.


As the Sales Assistant and Marketing Coordinator, Kyle helps sales operations run smoothly and spearheads Rec Media’s marketing initiatives. Kyle works closely with the VP of Sales to streamline reporting, presentations, client experience and more!
Born and raised in Calgary, Kyle graduated with a BBA majoring in Marketing from the University of Regina. When not at work, you can find him coaching hockey, volunteering at the local film festival, or traveling.


Luiz is originally from Brazil, where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. When he is not crunching numbers at work, he loves to travel the world with his family and watch his favourite soccer team, Atletico Mineiro.


As the Senior Accountant, Renata’s responsibilities include reconciling account balances and bank statements, maintaining general ledger and assist with tax returns.

Renata works hard to oversee general accounting operations by controlling and verifying the financial transactions, in an effort to ensure accuracy and effectiveness in all of Rec Media’s accounting tasks.

Originally from Prague, Czech Republic – Renata has close to 20 years of accounting experience with a thorough knowledge of accounting principles to analyze financial reports and forecasts.

When she’s not working, you’ll find Renata hanging out with her three boys (mostly in hockey arenas) or enjoying Canada’s beautiful forests and scenery.


As a member of the leadership team, Karen helps set direction for Rec Media’s business development. Her background in business strategy, with expertise in sales and marketing, makes her contributions focused on the company’s brand integrity, customer relationships, client innovations, and partnership development.

Previous experience includes business development and sales/marketing management with a variety of companies, including CTV, RedPoint Media, and Canada Wide Media. She now runs a successful consulting practice and is proud to include Rec Media as a favorite.

Karen is happiest working with a team, guiding everyone toward the corporate vision. Her career and life journey has taken her from Saskatoon to Toronto, then Calgary, Vancouver, and now back in Calgary where she spends most of her time with her large, exuberant, very active, and extremely close circle of family and friends.


Christophe is a Financial and Operational Consultant/Entrepreneur who is skilled at navigating organizations through change, achieving increased efficiencies and bottom line results. Christophe is an engaging entrepreneurial team-builder combining strategic, analytical and creative approaches to solution development and implementation.

His specialties include mergers and acquisitions, financing, process reengineering, forecasting and budgeting, Management Practices, Communications, Performance Improvement, Strategic Planning, Change Management, Mentoring & Coaching Staff, Radio and TV Broadcast Media operations and Team building.


David Sedgwick is a managing director with Balmoral Wood Alternatives which designs, invests in and manages global alternative investment strategies.

David has an extensive background in capital deployment and management related to real estate, infrastructure, energy and non-correlated alternative asset categories, as well as general corporate finance expertise across a variety of mid-market manufacturing, services, real estate, energy and alternate asset industries.

David is actively interested in alternative investment opportunities for institutional grade investors.


Amanda has extensive experience in both media strategy and broadcasting, with a solid track record of leading businesses and teams through complex environments. Amanda is skilled in Digital Strategy, Integrated Marketing, Advertising, and Business Development; and has held senior leadership roles in organizations such as Cossette, MediaCom and Shaw Communications.

She is a savvy industry veteran who intimately understands the needs of both advertisers and consumers.


Stéfan is Chief Talent Officer & CEO at Mandrake Human Capital which operates in the Search, Career Transition, Leadership Development, and Onboarding/Executive Acceleration.

Mandrake has recruited more than 10,000 executives in Canada and is one of the country’s largest firm in its sector. A graduate from McGill University, he started his career as a marketer at Procter & Gamble before joining Mandrake as a Consultant. He became Partner in 1991, and CEO in 1999. He is also is Executive Director of IMD, Mandrake’s 30 country strong global partnership.

Stéfan has led hundreds of executive engagements in Finance, Sales, HR, Marketing, Communications, and Strategy for various service, not-for-profit, and manufacturing companies.

He is an expert on the issues surrounding the changing face of human capital in today’s market, and a leader in creating and structuring competitive advantages for clients.


As Account Manager and Venue Partnerships, Brian consults directly with businesses to grow their brands and reach the communities they serve through our recreational facility network and advertising platforms. Additionally, Brian works with our venues to ensure the highest level of long-term success for both our clients and venue partners.

Originally from Saskatchewan, Brian has called Calgary home for over 30 years, most of which in the Calgary media landscape in radio broadcasting, print, OOH, and digital advertising.  Brian's knowledge of our venue audience and expertise in advertising platforms, campaign planning and brand development is a valuable resource for our clients.

Brian and his wife, Joy, have two teenage boys that keep them entertained.  When Brian's not working, you’ll still find him at the local rink enjoying his kid's hockey games, spending a weekend away camping or playing golf at the nearest golf course!


As Retail Account Manager, Calgary & Area, Mirza helps brands connect with their local community in recreational facilities.

Mirza works hard to ensure that he fulfills his client’s key marketing communications ethos day in and day out.
Prior to immigrating to Canada, Mirza obtained an MBA in Marketing & Sales from Amity Business School and worked with companies throughout India, UAE and Mauritius, managing advertising campaigns at various levels across the OOH and traditional media domain.

When Mirza is not working, you’ll find him travelling the world with his wife, playing cricket, watching Lawn Tennis and sharpening his singing skills.


As the VP of Sales, National, Jeff oversees the Rec Media sales team and works directly with corporate and agency accounts to grow their brands strength and integrity in the community recreational facility landscape.  He’s passionate about helping businesses uniquely connect with local communities in over 5,000 facilities across Canada.

Jeff grew up on a farm in Southern Alberta, has an MBA from the University of Calgary, and has 20 years’ experience leading sales teams within the broadcasting, digital media, and software industries.

When Jeff’s not working, you’ll find him boating with his wife and three kids, working on his classic Mustang fastback or playing a tune on the piano.


As the Accounting Clerk, Taylor’s responsibilities include collecting and posting accounts receivable invoices, verifying and processing accounts payable, as well as assisting in daily accounting operations.

Originally from Mountain View, Alberta – Taylor graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelors of Commerce majoring in Accounting. When she’s not working, you can find Taylor enjoying the outdoors with her husband, riding horses on her family ranch or curled up with a good book.


As Operations Team Lead, Allie is responsible for overseeing the execution of advertising campaigns by liaising with both the client and recreational facilities that the advertising is placed in.

Allie works hard to ensure that clients’ media requirements are accurately and timeously executed; while developing and maintaining key relationships with recreation facilities across Canada.

Allie was born and raised in Calgary and graduated from the University of Victoria with a major in Sociology and minor in Business. While in University, Allie studied abroad in Utrecht, The Netherlands. When she’s not working, you can find her on the Padel courts, watching movies, or traveling.


As the Senior Accountant, Renata’s responsibilities include reconciling account balances and bank statements, maintaining general ledger and assist with tax returns.

Renata works hard to oversee general accounting operations by controlling and verifying the financial transactions, in an effort to ensure accuracy and effectiveness in all of Rec Media’s accounting tasks.

Originally from Prague, Czech Republic – Renata has close to 20 years of accounting experience with a thorough knowledge of accounting principles to analyze financial reports and forecasts.

When she’s not working, you’ll find Renata hanging out with her three boys (mostly in hockey arenas) or enjoying Canada’s beautiful forests and scenery.


As a Media Project Coordinator, Ashley works on liaising with clients and various recreation facilities to help businesses reach the communities they serve.

Ashley works hard to ensure that the client is completely satisfied with the end result and the advertisement looks exactly how they pictured.

Originally from Birmingham, England – Ashley has one year of experience in the media advertising industry.
When he’s not working, you’ll find Ashley working out, playing hockey or just about every other sport.


As the Ski Advertising Sales Consultant for the Quebec region, Sylvie helps local businesses connect with desirable audiences in some of Canada’s most sought after ski resorts.

Originally from St-Sauveur, Quebec, Sylvie has spent many years on the ski hills (since she was 3 years old!) and knows her territory all too well. Her 20+ years in the sales and marketing field has enabled her to understand the specific needs for each of her clients.

When she is not working you will find her at the many sporting competitions (soccer, skiing and volleyball to name a few) her four children are involved in! She likes to ski, go for walks in the woods with her hubby and enjoys a delicious latte to kick start her day!


As the Senior Account Manager for Calgary and the surrounding areas, Dianna’s primary objective is to help businesses reach and connect with desirable audiences in community sports and recreation environments.

Dianna works hard to ensure that she has an understanding of her client’s business needs in an effort to determine their best fit to fulfill their campaign marketing goals.

Originally from Edmonton, Alberta – Dianna has over 20 years of sales experience across a variety of industries.

When she’s not working, you’ll find Dianna traveling to tropical destinations and indulging in her favorite pastime, paddle boarding. She also loves to be creative, painting with acrylics or just relaxing with a good book and a nice glass of wine.


As the VP of Sales, Eastern Canada, Mary K works with corporate advertising agencies and clients in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Having worked in the out-of-home advertising space for 20 years she understands the effectiveness of the medium and recognizes that Rec Media provides advertisers with a unique advantage to “give back” to communities!

Mary K is passionate about building relationships and developing partnerships within the industry. By promoting Rec Media’s community recreational network and providing corporate social responsibility solutions to marketers across Canada she is excited for what the future will bring.

Mary K is truly living the Rec Media story. She loves to ski with her family, play basketball in the driveway and spends the majority of her winter in hockey arenas across the GTA watching her son work towards his NHL dream!


As the Office Manager/EA, Judy provides administrative support to the CEO as well as the entire team. Judy juggles everything from people to pens; and uses her extensive experience and organizational skills help keep the Rec Media engine running! In addition to organizing meetings, training sessions and other team events; she assists the IT and Accounting Department with various daily tasks.

Judy’s experience and many years with the company enable her to effectively assist the team and ensure they have everything they need. Needless to say; she has become the natural go-to for her colleagues.

Originally from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan – Judy’s prior experience has primarily been in Retail Management.

When she’s not working, you’ll find Judy spending time with her family, attending live performances or creating her own fun!


As President and CEO, Troy’s role touches on just about everything in the organization. A serial entrepreneur, he loves (much to the chagrin of his staff) to have his fingers in everything!

Thankfully, over the years he’s gotten much better at empowering and trusting the capable people on his team to do the job they were hired to do. He still manages to keep a pulse on and provide insight on all things marketing, sales, operations, IT and even accounting – just from a little farther distance than before. Troy works hard to ensure that his oversight and guidance resources and supports everyone in their role, without crossing over into the realms of micromanagement, nor abdication.

Originally born in La Belle Province (Montreal), and having spent several of his younger years in southwestern Ontario (Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto), Troy now resides full-time in Calgary, with frequent trips between the Calgary head office and Rec Media’s offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Troy has had the privilege of residing in all four of the great Canadian cities where our offices are located.

With almost 25 years’ experience in the marketing and advertising industry, Troy frequently jokes that he “started when he was 12”. But he loves the industry and wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.

When Troy is not working, you’ll find him out swimming or riding his bike, or just hanging out with his wife and 3 kids eating great food and drinking even better wine (hence the need for the biking and swimming!), and tackling the never ending list of amazing places to see and visit on this beautiful planet.