While online marketing is all the rage these days, sometimes it doesn’t pay if your service or product is intended to serve a more localized market. Websites and online services can often promote your business to customers outside your target market, which doesn’t do you any good if your customers are too far away to reach you. Here are seven ideas to help you reach the customers in your area.
Cross-Marketing with Other Businesses
This can be especially useful with similar businesses. For example, a cleaning company could leave business cards with a waste removal service like 1300 Rubbish. Contact the local franchise and ask them to leave your contact information or a business card when they finish at a site. This can help put your name in front of someone who needs your services now.
Offer Referral Rewards
Offer a reward to a current customer if they tell their friends and neighbors about you. Something as simple as 10% off their next service if a referral turns into a sale. This is a fairly simple system to set up and it not only brings in a new customer, but also ensures repeat business from established customers.
Host a Class
Depending on what you do, you can sometimes offer a free class or seminar to draw customers in. If you’re in accounting, you can give a free retirement planning workshop. You can help potential customers realize the value of your service, and they may find themselves overwhelmed and ready to sign up for your services at the end.
Ask for Yelp! Reviews
Set up accounts with location-based advertising services and ask your customers to leave you reviews. Programs like this will alert potential customers in the area to your business and show them that other customers are satisfied with the product or service you sell. This is a great way to reach customers that are actively seeking your services, rather than passive advertising where you hope that someone remembers your name at a future time.
Sponsor a Local Event or Sports Team
This can be a great way to earn customer loyalty. If you’re the ones paying for a child’s sports jersey they are more likely to seek you out when they are in need of the services you offer. Attending games and functions regularly will also put a face with the name on the back of the jersey, and customers may feel an extra investment in your business if you’re helping their kid’s development.
Participate in Community Events
Hosting a booth at a local community event like a spring festival or annual picnic is a great way to make your presence known. Offer a small token (with your name on it!) to anyone who stops by to see what you have to offer. A dog groomer can set up a simple table with dog treats, a business card, and some pet waste bag dispensers with their name on it. A practical gift that will be used every day can help ensure that a potential customer knows who to call when they need it.
Take advantage of advertising on directories like Craig’s List or NextDoor. They are location specific and allow customers to leave recommendations and reviews as well. While they don’t allow direct advertising for free, asking your customers to leave a review or recommendation is a great way to get the word out about your business.
This isn’t to say that you should forego social-media marketing altogether, but knowing how to target local customers for a local business is a critical part of growing your small business. Take advantage of these tips and get to know your community!
Sarah Kearns is a hard working mother of three daughters. She is a Senior Communications Manager for BizDb, an online resource with information about businesses in the UK. She loves cooking, reading history books and writing about green living.