If you’ve read any of the material I suggest about marketing a small solo business, you know that I am a firm believer of very targeted marketing to customers that have shown an interest in your business or products.
Targeting prospects has so many marketing advantages, among them:
- It saves you time and money because you are putting your message in front of those that want to hear/see it
- It gives you credibility because you have a very focused group of followers in the niche
- It allows you to position your business in a very specific way so that you can be seen as catering to the exact needs of the audience
- It reduces the competition that you might otherwise have because you only deal in one specific tight subject
I don’t like the “shotgun” approach where you blast away at any live body hoping that a certain percentage will have some further interest in your message.
It just doesn’t make sense to do that and in an age where spam and interruptive advertising is so common. You (your business) are likely to be labeled something that you don’t want to be.
But I am convinced that you should always be involved in the local community business scene – and this advise could be seen as going against my recommendation above to always focus on a tight niche.
Even if you don’t have any customers that live in your community, it is important to have a presence there. Why?
Every small business should be a part of the community in which it is located – regardless of the niche. You need to be recognized as a “giver” of time, talent, resources, and possibly means. It doesn’t matter that your niche is not something that the local people in the community would ever choose to enjoy.
You can do that without becoming another corporate sponsor that gives thousands of dollars at every worthy local event.
Community leaders, other business owners, and the public need to understand that you are a business professional and see that you are an active giver of resources back to the community.
It shouldn’t matter that your marketing done locally may not be fruitful in selling your products. You can limit your local marketing to a few methods and strategies that will expose your brand and earn “good will” for your business.
Don’t spend a lot of money on this type of marketing if there are not a lot of good local prospects for your business.
But you can do the following:
1. Join the local Chamber of Commerce and other business associations. Let the leaders in your community know that you support the overall business sector and want to do your part to give back something to the community.
2. Participate in volunteering your time (on a limited basis as you have it) to work on community promotions and events. This kind of support will likely get your business logo on t-shirts, banners, calendars, event booklets, etc that will be handed out locally.
3. Give to charity events. It’s great to make a business donation in cash if you have the means, but also consider other types of support like giving of your personal time to fundraising campaigns, donating your products or services as a raffle prize, or working to recruit other business owners.
4. Put your fellow business owners on your mailing list. I can tell you from personal experience that this strategy will get you a lot of mileage and good will. Often a Chamber of Commerce will publish their member mailing list. Send these business peers a copy of your newsletter, annual report, etc and include a personal note.
Local businesses like to see what other businesses in town are doing even if they have no interest in the niche that you’re working in.
5. Volunteer your services as “Career Day” events at local schools, talk to young entrepreneur clubs, women in business events, as a Boy Scout merit badge counselor in your niche, etc. Give of your time to mentor others that may be interested in some day creating and operating a small business.
6. Be willing to speak to groups about your niche. Often there are community based clubs, societies, church groups, etc, that are looking for speakers to share interesting topics and experiences.
It shouldn’t be difficult to prepare a half hour’s presentation about your personal experiences in the niche of your business as both an entertaining and educational snapshot into the life of a local business owner.
These are just a few of the ways you might market yourself locally and gain some notoriety and possibly business contacts in the process.
Be creative – there are a lot of other ways you can be a good citizen, a “giving” businessman, and a corporate sponsor all at the same time.
To your online business success!