Jan 2020

10 Pittsburgh Marketing Tips N’at

Tips & Tricks for Overcoming the Biggest Challenges of Marketing Pittsburgh

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Pittsburgh - full of quirky murals, eccentric natives, and a vibrant food scene - is anything but predictable. While meandering your way through tunnels and across the 446 bridges in Allegheny county, you’re sure to encounter a number of people and businesses than personify the essence of the Steel City: a city built on grit, hard work, and a little bit of attitude.

As a business in Pittsburgh, however, you face a number of challenges that are truly unique to the region. These challenges can make it hard to decide which marketing tactics are right for your business; you can’t always do things by the book when you’re marketing Pittsburgh, which is why the team at Responsival is here to share with you Pittsburgh-specific marketing tips and tricks that can help you make the most out of your digital marketing tactics in the city of bridges.

First and Foremost

Not to Be a Jagoff, but Read This First

Before diving into our tips for marketing Pittsburgh, be sure to keep this in mind. Our city is full of little Ma & Pa Shops that have been around for generations. Pittsburgh is a city built on tradition, and many small business owners think that tradition is enough to keep them afloat. 

But just like the people who live here, Pittsburgh is changing. Newcomers are bringing a lot of change to the Steel City, which means small businesses need to follow suit.

And here’s the thing -- there’s always room for growth in a city like Pittsburgh. Even if you feel like your business is thriving off of word-of-mouth and the foot traffic your shop attracts, there’s always space to build a community, reach new customers, and really make a name for yourself. 

Using even a few new marketing tactics - refreshing your website, utilizing Google, or getting your small business on social media - can really make a difference. And when you need some help, Responsival is here to get you moving in the right direction with all your web design and marketing needs.

#1: Begin Marketing Pittsburgh with Your Millenial Market

Pittsburgh Demographic Shift Calls for New School Marketing Tactics

Bakery Square Pittsburgh
Image Source: http://bakery-square.com/

By 2014, the number of research & development positions in the Pittsburgh job market finally outnumbered the jobs within the steel industry. Since then, Pittsburgh has been ripe for tech startups, corporations, and professionals to lay their roots. These new opportunities created a demographic shift in Pittsburgh -- one that includes tech-minded Millennials and young professionals at a core of the consumer environment.

These newcomers are working at companies like Google, Uber, and Facebook, meaning they’re a demographic that depends heavily on a great website when learning about businesses. For small businesses, this means it’s time to make sure you have a great mobile-friendly website that attracts attention and turns newbies into customers. 

If you’re looking to give your existing website a 21st-century facelift, get in touch with the team at Responsival: the experts in affordable web design and marketing in Pittsburgh.

#2: Tailor Social Ads to Pittsburgh’s Unique Geography

When Marketing Pittsburgh, Mind Your Bridges & Tunnels

geography of pittsburgh
geography of downtown pittsburgh

In many parts of Pennsylvania and across the country, driving 10 miles to the grocery store or into the downtown area is the norm. Anyone who’s tried to tackle the Fort Pitt or Squirrel Hill Tunnels at rush hour (or at any time, really) knows that this is simply out of the question.

Pictured above is a map of Pittsburgh with this 10-mile radius as well as Pittsburgh with a 1-mile radius. The 10-mile radius spans from Oakmont to Bethel Park -- and no matter how good your almond torte is, nobody is driving from the Penn Hills to the South Hills if they don’t need to do so.

This is why it’s so important to consider geography when utilizing Facebook ads for marketing Pittsburgh. Facebook ads, when targeting the city of Pittsburgh, allows you to make your target radius 10 miles at its smallest. However, there are a few ways around this:

  • Instead of selecting the city itself, drop a pin on the map when creating your ad targeting. This will allow you to create a radius as small as 1 mile for your ad.
  • Instead of targeting Pittsburgh with a radius, choose ‘current city only’ to reach an audience that is within city limits and not in the suburbs.
  • Consider bridges and rivers your geographical limits. You can still target an audience across a river to try out your restaurant, but you may want to adjust your ad copy to say “just across the Mon” instead of “your friendly neighborhood grill.”

#3: Be a Neighbor by Partnering with Other Businesses & Influencers

Channel Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood When Marketing Pittsburgh Businesses

pittsburgh instagram
Image Source: @kait_bakes on Instagram

If you want to expand your reach when marketing Pittsburgh, try asking others, ‘won’t you be my neighbor?’ A number of opportunities exist when it comes to partnering with other businesses and local influencers that can help you get your name out there. Whether it’s showcasing your products in a popup in a boutique, partnering with another small business for a marketing campaign, or hiring an Instagram influencer to talk about your products, partnerships are a great way to do a little quid-pro-quo with one of your neighbors.

We’ve seen a number of Pittsburgh businesses do this over the years, but the rising value that an influencer brings to the table for small businesses is perhaps the most remarkable. Recently, Instagram user @kait_bakes partnered with Millie’s Ice Cream to showcase new flavors and the versatility of their take-home pints.

Whether you’re looking to pay for an influencer post or exchange products for a post, you can find influencers in the Pittsburgh area using tools like Upfluence, Discover.ly, and Crowdfire. If you’re looking to try out an influencer campaign but don’t want the hassle, hand the project over to the leader in marketing Pittsburgh, Responsival.

#4: Use Social Media to Engage with Pittsburgh Events

Social Media Marketing with Pittsburgh Sports and Events in Mind

Social events pittsburgh
Image Source: www.post-gazette.com

When marketing Pittsburgh businesses, it’s important to keep in mind that we are a city who loves its teams. A portion of your audience is definitely rooting on the Pens in the Stanley Cup, swinging a terrible towel, or cheering on a Pierogi at the end of the 5th inning, so why not use these events to engage your audience?

Any business can use local events to its advantage. After all, big events like Steelers’ games, Light Up Night, and Picklesburgh are sure to increase foot traffic around a number of businesses. Consider running a giveaway on social media after the big game, or offering a discount during Light Up Night to help drive foot traffic into your store. Advertise this on social media to get the word out to your most engaged audiences.

#5: Specialize Your Ad Copy When Marketing Pittsburgh Businesses

Talk the Talk of Each Pittsburgh Neighborhood

Specialized local advertising

In Pittsburgh, the locals are blessed with the ugliest accent in America: an honor that many yinzers hold near and dear to their hearts. If you’re looking for a way to show off your local spunk, try breaking out your best Pittsburghese in a social media post or ad:

  • “Stop by the Best Dentist in Dahtahn Pittsburgh”
  • “Grab a bite and a bottle of pop at the Original Hotdog Shop”
  • “Stop by for a haircut today to redd up for the holidays”

Another great way to make sure your audience is paying attention is to call them out directly. Many advertisers will begin ads by saying “Hey Pittsburgh, check out this special offer just for you!” Because the Pittsburgh area is divided into 90 different neighborhoods, it’s a great idea to call out a specific neighborhood in the copy of ads or in the headline. After all, local users are more likely to click on an ad for “HVAC Repair in Fox Chapel” than “HVAC Repair in Pittsburgh” because it is right in their backyard.

#6: Know Your Local Hashtags

Expand Your Reach When Marketing Pittsburgh with Localized Hashtags4

local hashtags pittsburgh

Pittsburghers love their city and love to show it off. If you’re looking to engage with and reach some of Pittsburgh’s biggest fans on Instagram, it’s important to know which hashtags to use. Check out some of the biggest hashtags to use when marketing Pittsburgh businesses:

  • #Pittsburgh - 6.4 million posts
  • #412 - 850,000 posts
  • #SteelCity - 457,000 posts
  • #PGH - 752,000 posts
  • #PGHFood - 54,700 posts
  • #EatPGH - 47,300 posts
  • #PittsburghHairStylist - 119,000 posts
  • #PittsburghFoodie - 66,700 posts
  • #PittsburghWedding - 104,000 posts
  • #Yinzer - 46,400 posts
  • #Yinztagram - 5,000 posts
  • #H2P - 189,000 posts
  • #CityOfChampions - 98,100 posts

Want to learn how to effectively hashtag your Instagram posts when marketing Pittsburgh businesses? Check out this helpful blog post on mastering your business’s Instagram.

#7: Use a Google Business Listing When Marketing Pittsburgh Businesses

The Phonebook Listing of the 21st Century: Google Business Listing

google search no click
Source: searchengineland.com

When marketing Pittsburgh businesses, we cannot stress enough how important it is to have an active, complete Google Business Listing. Google is quickly evolving into a no-click search engine, or a search engine in which the results page itself provides all the information you would need, leading to fewer people ever entering a website. That’s why it’s so important to load your GBL with as much information as possible.

In addition to completing your Google Business Listing with proper hours, industry tags, and a description of your business, it’s important to update your GBL like you would a social media platform. You should consistently create posts and add photos to keep your listing active. This will help clue Google into your business being active and important, helping more people find your business over time on SERPs and maps.

Check out this great blog post on setting up a GBL for marketing Pittsburgh businesses.

#8: Use Website Content to Create Pittsburgh Guides

Use Your Company Blog to Create Shareable Articles

company blog

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably encountered a number of blog posts on your Facebook and Twitter feeds that list a number of businesses and activities to try out in your town. These blog posts are littered with a number of small businesses, restaurants, and more and are often shared with friends and family for inspiration for upcoming outings.

If your business hasn’t been featured in one yet, don’t sweat it -- you can always create your own! No matter your industry, listicles (lists + articles) can help create buzz around your business and other businesses you have a relationship in a highly-shareable, easy-to-digest way:

  • 15 Valentine’s Day Eats & Activities Under $50 in Pittsburgh
  • The Pittsburgh Guide for Visiting Foodies
  • 25 Small Businesses in Pittsburgh You Should Know About
  • The Leading Repairmen for Pittsburgh Homeowners in 2020
  • Holiday Shopping: 7 Pittsburgh-Themed Gifts You’ll Love

Not only are these articles easy to write and give a little PR-boost to your business, but the other businesses mentioned are sure to appreciate the shoutout! It’s common for these articles to be shared by the other businesses and their biggest fans, providing your a free boost when looking to expand your reach within the region. Additionally, having a blog on your website helps boost SEO and will drive traffic to other pages of your sight -- a total win-win (kind of like the Steelers in the 1979 and 1980 Superbowls). 

#9: Appeal to Your College Audience

Tailoring Marketing to Pittsburgh College Students

student audience
Source: theblacksheeponline

The Pittsburgh area is home to nine different colleges and universities, ranging in size from a couple of thousand students to nearly 30,000 students at the University of Pittsburgh. Altogether there are more than 80,000 college students in Pittsburgh: a large and extremely valuable market for a number of businesses.

However, it’s important to note a number of things about college students. These students are often more ethnically diverse than the rest of the city, are limited on space and modes of transportation, and often lack a large disposable income. However, this audience is likely to capitalize on food and drink specials or take advantage of services that provide time-saving convenience. 

Make the most of the college audience when marketing Pittsburgh businesses by targeting ads and social media posts directly at them! Whether you want to offer an end-of-year carpet cleaning special to college students for a half-priced appetizer with a college ID, college students are sure to respond to money-saving opportunities.

#10: Join a Pittsburgh Community Group on Facebook

Get Involved in a Local Community Related to Your Industry

community groups pittsburgh

Facebook isn’t what it used to be. Expanding beyond its humble beginnings of ‘face-creeping’ college classmates, Facebook is a central hub for connecting people with people, businesses, and communities that they can benefit from. Due in part to Facebook’s inherent desire to gain more information about its users, Facebook has put a recent emphasis on encouraging people to join groups.

Many people argue that these Facebook groups could be the next big thing for Facebook marketers. When it comes to marketing Pittsburgh, we agree! Facebook groups exist for nearly any interest you can imagine, making it easy to share information about your business and its offering with a group of highly-engaged members. Think of it like this:

  • Pittsburgh Dog Owners: The perfect place for advertising a dog walking service, kennel, or dog grooming company. 900+ members.
  • Pittsburgh Moms Connect: Great for advertising your local daycare center, healthy kid-friendly restaurant, or finding a local influencer for your new kids’ product.
  • Pittsburgh Housing, Roommates, Apartments, Sublets: Ideal for leasing companies to share their listings as well as home services (carpet cleaners, laundry services, etc.) to advertise to college students in need of assistance.

While it’s important not to spam your groups with advertisements and to stay personable, it’s a great idea to join a group to get connected to people within your circle.


It’s clear that marketing Pittsburgh businesses presents a number of unique challenges. To get started with a customized marketing plan, get in touch with Responsival - the leader in Pittsburgh web design and marketing - today.

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