By Guest Author: Lexie Lu
Growing your business starts at a local level and expands from there. There are many opportunities to reach people within your community and develop a strong reputation as a small business owner.
SCORE reports 91% of American shoppers visit small businesses at least once a week. About 47% of respondents frequent local small businesses between two to four times a week. People still support small business efforts and truly want to see local entrepreneurs succeed.
There are many opportunities for growth. Spreading the word in your local community is the first step to success. Here are our favorite ways for growing business on a local level:
1. Sponsor Youth Sports
Putting your money behind youth leagues is an inexpensive promotional method. Look for an organization that creates banners — this can help you promote your sponsorship. Buy your team T-shirts with your brand name on the back. You’ll reach the parents at the ballpark as well as grandparents, aunts, and uncles. The children may even become future customers as they grow up.
Throw a pizza party for the kids at the end of the season and team up with a local pizza place. You’ll bring the teams to their establishment and pay for the food. In turn, the pizza place can share information about your business with their patrons or add a small advertisement to the menu. They could also hand out coupons for your company to their customers. Look for win-win relationships with other business owners in the area.You can target the big fish and still grow your business at the #locallevel. @RedBranch explains in their latest blog post: Click To Tweet
2. Map Your Sales Area
Don’t just send salespeople out cold turkey. Spend time mapping the area and strategizing about the best use of your agents’ time. For example, a map can show what regions your competition is serving and where people are experiencing gaps in service. You can also use your internal data to create heat maps showing which locations customers are more likely to spend money.
3. Start a Pop-Up Shop
Are you thinking about expanding to a new location? Test the waters with a pop-up store. Use your best marketing tactics to share information about when your temporary business site will be open and what you’ll have. The amount of attention your pop-up gets can help you gauge how well a new shop might do in a particular area. Locate several options and test them all. You may decide to offer occasional pop-ups to expand your operations without going all-in just yet.
4. Go After the Big Fish
Make a list of your local dream clients. These are the big accounts that will take your revenue up a few notches. Once you have a list of brands or people you’d like to have as customers, create an account-based marketing campaign catering to their needs. Creating a personalized experience is similar to approaching a highly targeted lead. Your chances of landing the account increase greatly.
5. Utilize Social Media
One of the amazing things about social media advertising is how highly targeted you can get with your audience. Choose location-based parameters to make sure you’re reaching people in your area and directing them to relevant offers.
For example, if you want to offer a discount to draw people into your bakery, start a Facebook ad and serve it to people in a specific town. Tell them to mention a specific word when they come in to get their discount. Or, they could even just say they saw the ad on Facebook to receive the benefits. Using a trigger word allows you to track how effective each campaign is.
If you don’t have a presence on social media, go ahead and set up pages. Make sure each channel is consistent with the others — and your real-world presence. Use the same logo, color palette and messaging everywhere you appear.Ready to get your company's name out at the local level? @RedBranch has 8 unique steps you can take to create buzz in your city: Click To Tweet
6. Network With Others
Most medium-sized and large towns have a local chamber of commerce. Contact them and ask about networking opportunities with other business owners. You’ll gain ideas for promotions and find like-minded business people with whom to work.
Seek out companies that complement your own. For example, if you own a movie theater, you might team up with a local restaurant and offer a dinner and movie date night package. Another idea is to tell patrons to take their receipt to the restaurant for a discount. Similarly, the dining establishment can direct its customers to bring their receipts to your theater for a discount on tickets.
7. Grow in Revenue
Growing doesn’t always mean increasing your customer base. Companies that encourage customer loyalty grow their revenue 2.5 times faster than others in their industries. Work hard at customer retention — it is a crucial factor in your success. While adding new clients is smart as well, retaining the old ones keeps you from spinning your wheels and never growing beyond where you are.
In addition to focusing on excellent customer service, look for new products and services your current customers might appreciate. Keep an eye on the competition so you can always offer more than they do.
8. Attend Local Events
Growing on a local level usually involves being seen by citizens. Set up a booth at the local craft fair. Host an event and invite local journalists and influencers. Get permission to pass out promotional items at a popular event in town. The more often people hear your brand name, the more likely they’ll be to remember you when they need your products or services.
Constantly Refine Your Approach
The eight ideas above are a good start to growing your small business locally. However, as technological advancements and world events change the way people shop, you may need to refine your promotional efforts. Investigate what your competitors do to promote their companies. Look for unique marketing opportunities. Continually change what you’re doing to keep current customers happy, create word-of-mouth buzz, and seek new clients.
With a little effort, you’ll become a household name in your town.
By Guest Author: Lexie Lu
Lexie Lu is a web designer and UX content strategist. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media and branding. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.