Building a Local Business
Editor’s note: Written in 2011, most of these tips are as relevant today as they were a decade ago. There are some additional tips as local marketing resources have definitely expanded since then.
When I left corporate, I was tired of airplanes and travel. I had spent eleven years flying around the country, had seen every state except for Alaska, and can honestly say every Marriot courtyard is exactly the same. I was ready to sleep in my own bed.
Step one in this process was building a local business, with enough clients and projects to keep me on the ground and at home. I joined networking organizations and clubs, serve on the board of directors for several organizations, and support local businesses through my purchases when possible. The result is a healthy local business.
Because of my strong local focus, I really enjoyed a blog post on Web Designer Depot in which the author, who has a strong national business gives advice on how to grow the local.
Here are just a few of his suggestions. Be sure to read the rest of his article.
- Create an Offline Mailing List – Yes the mail is still delivered every day, and the advantage of local clients from my perspective, is sometimes, you can just hand-deliver the letter.
- Get Courageous and Then Cold Call or Walk In – I would modify this advice. Instead of cold calling, use on-line tools to connect with someone in the company. Get an introduction through LinkedIn, or reach out and put a comment on their company fan page. Then it is a warm call, not a cold one.
- Optimize Your Website for Google Local – After his reminder, I went back and took another look at our page. It turns out we could have been promoting our business in multiple categories, and we weren’t taking advantage of all of them. Are you? In its infancy in 2011, the suite of products Google offers to small local businesses is a central part of our local marketing today. We post content twice a week on our Google My Business page, routinely request referrals and even upload a video or two. The result is a steady stream of traffic from Google to our contact page.
- Offer a Referral Commission to Local Business Owners – I have always had mixed feelings on this whole idea of paying for referrals. As a Rainmaker, I built a business based on routinely giving them without asking for anything in exchange. I still don’t ask for fees, but I have developed a payment program. The results are several large projects I am not sure I would have gotten introduced to without the referral.
- Actively build a referral network. Don’t just toss commissions to everyone, be selective. Get to know a few business owners really well and work together to jointly promote your business and theirs. Create content, on your website or in email form which they can share with prospective clients, and ask them to share their content with you. If you want a strong local business, you need to be willing to give as much as you get.
- Get involved in your local community. Don’t hide in your office , behind your computer and hope people will find you. Get out there. Join a board, volunteer at a local event, make friends. Even if you don’t see a direct line back to your business, this expanded network will help you grow your local presence.
So the question is, what are you doing to grow your local business?
want help expanding your visiblity?
If you need a new website or help constructing your Google My Business page we are ready to start the conversation about your local business.
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