Building a small business requires time, strategy, money and a great product. If you have the great product, how much time, strategy and money does it take for your business to become profitable?
The easy answer: it depends. No one factor is more important than the other. We've all seen very successful businesses that in all honesty don't have the greatest product - as well as a business with a GREAT product that is just never successful. So how do small business owners position their business for success? One key strategy is local marketing.
Local marketing, also known as neighborhood marketing, is getting your business in front of potential customers who live in your local neighborhood, versus a national audience.
Whether you are a brick-and-mortar store or service provider or consultant, local marketing is a smart strategy to reach the right people at the right time. Often called "traditional" these local marketing strategies may be old school, but they work! Best of all, many of them are free or nearly-free to implement, they only require a small business owner's most precious commodity: time.
10 Local Marketing Tactics to Build Your Small Business
1. Hang Flyers, Postcards or Posters in Other Neighborhood Businesses
Create an attractive flyer and ask the owner of other local businesses to hang the flyer or leave the postcards at their register. Offer to reciprocate! If appropriate, give a special offer such as anyone who mentions your neighbor's business gets a 10% discount at your business.
Example: My dog groomer has a bakery next door. If you mention you saw their flyer at the groomer you get a free regular coffee when you purchase a pastry!
2. Attend Local Networking Events
Meet other local business owners and introduce them to your product. Be sure to have an attractive business card to handout! MeetUp, the Chamber of Commerce and local business associations are available in most communities. Meet and greets are a good way to introduce yourself to the business community in your neighborhood and stay front of mind.
3. Send Postcards
Mail is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to reach a local audience. If you are your service, consider adding your photo to the postcard. If you have a storefront, offer a special promotion to cardholders.
Example: The cardholder is entitled to 20% discount on their first purchase at your store.
4. Hold an Information Session
If you are selling your expertise, set up a free information session to teach your audience valuable information related to your service.
Example: A realtor who lives in a condo building can invite all her neighbors in the complex to a "how to prepare your home for resale" free talk, and demonstrate her expert advice on selling units in the building.
5. Sponsor a Local Event
Donate your time, money or services to promote an event in your neighborhood in exchange for promoting your business. Then be sure to attend the event!
Example: A chiropractor with a son on the baseball team sponsors the team and has his name on all the uniforms. Then he attends each game, talks to other parents and gives useful advice for parents to help their child prevent injuries - and hands out his business card when someone needs medical services.
6. List Your Business With a Coupon Deal Site
Coupon deal sites like Groupon or Coupon Cabin offer products and services at a limited-time discount and can be sorted by product type and location. Note: coupon deal sites have different contracts that may require a significant discount where you don't make money but you expand your business's reach - choose a deal site that makes sense for your business.
7. Set Up a Preferred Vendor Network
Give referrals to other small businesses you work with, and ask them to reciprocate.
Example: A marketing agency can refer clients to their printer and the printer refers their customers to the local mailing center who refers their clients to you!
8. Write An Article
Many local newspapers and magazines are seeking high-quality articles for their publications. If you are expert on a subject, offer to write a one-off or even monthly column for free - in exchange for listing your business name, contact information and social media links in the article.
9. Offer a Free Consultation
If you provide a service, offer a free 30-minute or 1-hour consultation to new prospects.
Example: A divorce lawyer offers a free 30-minute consultation to explains what's involved in filing for divorce in your state.
10. Ask Customers for Referrals
Tell your loyal, valued customers that you're trying to grow your business - and need their help! If you provide exceptional service to your customers they will want to make sure you stay in business!
The best local marketing strategy for your small business is the one that works in your neighborhood. Try several different approaches to grow your business, and don't give up if one doesn't work - move on to the next idea to build your business!
In our next post, we'll discuss digital local marketing strategies for your small business.