Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Local Marketing for Small Businesses

Do you have a brand-new business or one that needs some help in the marketing department?

Chances are, some local marketing would be helpful, regardless if your business is a mom and pop restaurant, a family-owned pressure washing business or a computer networking company. Because our world today is so small, some business owners overlook their own backyard. That is a big mistake!

We all know that people do business with other people that they like. Think about it--- if you walk into an establishment, and they are rude-- are you going to spend any money there? Chances are you will not, unless it's a government office like the DMV! On the other hand, if you get a warm welcome, and great service, won't you be inclined to return frequently? I love our local hardware store for this exact reason. Sure, I could go to one of the big stores and save a few pennies, but I prefer to give my business to the kind gentleman that finds me the exact doohickey I need.

Obviously, then, great service is one of the most important aspects of local marketing. Word of mouth spreads fast-- for better or for worse. Make sure that when people mention your business, it is because they are raving fans.
Word of mouth is great, but amplifying that is even better. Luckily, we live in a time when you can do that without spending a fortune. Be creative and think hard about ways you can market your business, bring in more customers, and be more successful overall. Here are a few of my ideas:
  1. Build an online presence. That means to start with the big guns and claim your free Google+ Local Page, then post information about your business, your hours, your products or services. Don't stop there! Add your business to local directories. Use this list of local directories and join the ones that make sense for your business.
  2. Host a local meet-up for business owners. Get to know one another, share marketing ideas that work well in the area, perhaps have a speaker that can offer further tips.
  3. Partner up. If you own a local roofing company, it would be a great idea to work together with a local siding or gutter company that you trust to take good care of your customers. Complementary businesses can work well together once they build a relationship and trust.
  4. Openly Refer Customers. When your customers ask who you would use for a certain service, or to be a certain product, tell them! Better yet, scribble it down on the back of one of your business cards. This way the business knows who sent them their way. Pay it forward...and others will be sure to return the favor.
  5. Handwritten thank you notes. No one does this anymore, right? That is exactly why you should! People are delighted when they see you went out of your way to make them feel special. We recently received one of these notes from our local Chevy dealer when I took my son's car in for an oil change. Now we are in the market for a car-- guess where our first stop will be?
  6. Write about your business. Offer your local newspaper an article about what you do or sell. Chances are they will be interested, IF you have an interesting angle, or not just a straight sales pitch. For instance, you might put together an article about the history of a local landmark if your business is close to it, or if you sell postcards with images of it. How about giving people some great holiday recipes using an ingredient they can purchase in your shop?
  7. Let your customers help make you better. When you are available online or provide feedback cards, you can see what is working and makes your customers happy, and what they'd prefer you to change. Use the feedback, good or bad, to make your business better.
  8. Address any negative feedback. Face it-- not everyone will be thrilled with you or business. There will be naysayers and people who vocally complain. The best thing you can do is openly handle the situation. Tell them you are sorry that they feel that way and ask what you can do to help.
  9. Get involved in your community. Show up for clean-up days and local events, sponsor a little league team or a local charity.
  10. Social Media. Be active online and post on social media sites. I know there are way too many to even consider being everywhere, but look for places where your target customer hangs out. Local groups on Facebook, Instagram for great local pictures, Pinterest for crafts and recipes.
  11. Your online home should be YOUR website. People EXPECT you to be online nowadays, and for lots of information about you to be there. Do not disappoint them, and don't allow someone else's online property to serve this purpose. You want a place that you have full control over...and that is your website.
Hope these tips help you think of even more and better ways to market your business locally. I would love to hear what works for you.

Here are a few local businesses that I never hesitate to recommend:
Allen Pressure Washing Fort Myers They will make your property sparkle.
JS Services Ohio  Installation and repair of sprinkler systems, winter snow removal, based in northeast Ohio.
Dental Dynamic Staffing    DDS does staffing for dental offices nationwide.
Krume & Associates, Inc. Computer consulting, networking, managed services, Cleveland Metro area.