From Worldwide to Local: Finding Opportunity in Your Backyard
When it comes to marketing your business, experts say, "Go where the people are!" And for many small businesses, that means get your business online. But as the focus to reach out through a heightened web presence and social media grows, some business owners might be forgetting an important sector: their local community.
If you drew circles to represent potential customer quantities, your online market will likely be larger. With the right website, web-marketable services and a consistent voice in social media, you can reach a large number of people. Why turn to the smaller circle of potential local customers?
Loyalty, opportunity for community involvement and face-to-face interaction are all positives when you market your small business to your community. If you're a store front, you have little choice, but even online-based businesses can and should get involved in local marketing.
The Face Value
Face-to-face interaction is still one of your most valuable tools as a business owner. Personalizing an otherwise anonymous business makes you stand out in a customer's mind. Experts advise you to meet at least five new people a week. Look for opportunity to strike up a conversation, at a gas pump, with parents lingering at a playground while their kids play, at a cafe. Have business cards ready if you sense a connection and offer some sort of freebie or redeemable service or good for the call.
You aren't alone out in that forbidding business world. Other small businesses are trying to forge their ways, too. Look for a company that offers a complimentary product or service to yours and think of ways to cross promote your offerings.
Coffee shops and chocolatiers, jewelry stores and restaurants, florists and hotels, financial services and ... a local guitar shop? That's right, be creative and partner for customer referrals, joint marketing opportunities and promotions.
Involvement in Community-Sponsored Events
Affiliate with a community charity event, either as an overall headline sponsor or a booth sponsor. The twofold benefit is having your business name affiliated with a positive community event and contributing in a positive way to your community. Donate services or products to a charity raffle, participate in locally-sponsored workshops in your area of expertise or invite school groups in to learn about your business. Put the extra effort into attaching your business name to an event that benefits your local community and you'll likely see rewards.
Another community event driver is your local chamber of commerce. Becoming a member of your local Chamber of Commerce requires dues. If you're not in a place to join, check their calendar of events for ideas on how to connect with potential new customers, through events, welcome programs for people moving to the area and lists of other businesses with whom you might want to partner.
You need to have a vibrant web presence, yes, but showing dedication to the community in which you operate helps to build trust. It shows you care about more than your bottom line and gives you a number of ways to network and build your brand along with your customer base.