by Ruth Klein
With the worldwide reach of the Internet, what often gets forgotten is growing locally. The politicians had it right with that famous saying that “all politics is local.” It doesn’t matter how they rank nationally; politicians need their hometown votes to stay in office. That logic makes sense for most businesses, too. Local clients and customers tend to be the most loyal, because they know you personally.
Since the inception of the Internet, every year there are more people on line searching for the product or the service they need. More than ever, their focus is local, right down to getting directions from Mapquest.com or using a Google map to find their way to the most conveniently located source.
To make your business stand out locally, include your business name, location, zip code and hours in all Internet directories. Key search words are important, but so is letting consumers in your immediate vicinity know that you are right next door.
To make it personal, get personal by inviting individuals and organizations to meet with you. Go to individuals and organizations within a 25-mile radius to meet with them. It works.
6 Smart Ways to Think Local and Grow Your Business Fast
1. Get your business listed free. There are several Internet search engines that provide opportunities to set up free listing accounts. There may be a company 1,000 miles away or overseas that offers what you do, but listing yourself as the closest local provider makes you the convenient choice. Here are a few places to start in setting up free accounts: Google Local at http://www.google.com/local/add/login?hl=en_US, Yahoo Local at http://listings.local.yahoo.com and YellowPages.com at http://www.yellowpages.com/sp/contact/update.jsp.
2. Follow the 25-mile rule. Get out a local map and draw a circle around a 25-mile radius from your front door. Target local consumers and businesses within that 25-mile radius that are your potential customers. Visit a local Chamber of Commerce directory on line to hone your search. Get out there in your local area some afternoon and look for businesses that don’t belong with the local Chamber of Commerce. Instead of spending huge sums on direct mail that might bring you only a very limited return, invest in a targeted direct mail campaign focusing on those 10 to 100 potential customers within the 25-mile radius.
3. Host an event. Using the names and addresses of potential customers inside your 25-mile radius, create an invitation list to an event that will allow potential customers to meet you personally. Offer a free gift or service as an incentive. If you are a solo entrepreneur with limited or no space (and limited funds), partner up with another business or even a nonprofit organization to co-host an event. Both you and your partner should give away a freebie so that there are plenty of incentives for your affair. To get some ideas, look in your local paper for local happenings. Circle those that are co-hosted by similar and also dissimilar organizations for ideas.
4. Follow up. Send personalized thank-you notes to those who attend your event, and include a flier describing your services. Include a special offer of a personal invitation or an opportunity to subscribe free to your newsletter that will get their attention. Your personal touch tells your future clients that you are willing to get personal to meet their needs. For a smart guide to how to write business thank-you letters, go to http://www.ehow.com/how_1378_write-business-thank.html.
5. Get out there! Set aside one afternoon or morning each week to meet with potential clients (and partners for future events). Search your local newspaper or http://www.craigslist..org for local events, and show up in person to say hello. Offer to be a guest speaker, and choose a general-interest topic that will sell yourself first, and then your product or service.
6. Participate. Join a nonprofit group for a good cause, and bring plenty of business cards with you. Write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, and include your business title and business name. More than 90 percent of all businesses are small businesses. Your perspective on small businesses is important, because your perspective is personal. For smart tips on writing letters to the editor from the Humane Society of the United States, go to http://www.hsus.org/legislation_laws/citizen_lobbyist_center/lobbying_101/tips_on_writing_letters_to_the_editor.html.
Because the Internet has brought untold convenience and immediacy to our lives, growing locally by using the Internet, so that our local, hometown resources can find us is a great way to market yourself virtually.
About the Author
Ruth Klein is an award-winning business owner, best-selling author and marketing and time management consultant whose clients range from solo entrepreneurs to the Fortune 500. Sign up to receive Ruth’s 7 Part Mini-Course on Branding and Productivity. http://tinyurl.com/25tqo5