So you decided to start a local business….
You start buying new equipment for a neighborhood gym, contacting suppliers for a cozy corner coffee shop, or purchasing a coin-operated washer from Continental Girbau to set up a local laundromat.
Fast forward to opening day and, so far, nothing is going as you envisioned. Apart from the shortage of customers, there seems to be a lack of buzz within the area.
What could it be?
Setting up your local business is truly challenging. Almost always, any big expectations you initially had will be wiped out.
However, Forbes states more than half of small local business are home-based and three-quarters of all business are non-employers means that success is just around the corner.
All you need to do is reach the right market. And what better–and cheaper!–way to do that than through the Internet.
Here are some tips you can use to your advantage:
Sign Up To Online Directories
The easiest way to get the word out is to sign up to an online listing. Listings will align you with the right kind of industry.
For example, local gyms and fitness centers are listed under one category; restaurants, cafes, and other food establishments under another; and dry-cleaning and laundry services are under yet another.
By placing yourself under a listing, you can connect to people who are searching for a business like yours. Plus, if you happen to be the closest one by, your name will pop up first on search returns.
Being part of a listing amplifies your reach and shows people that you exist. Additionally, today’s listings allow people to review certain products or services; take advantage of this and build a reputation with great reviews.
Put Up An Online Personality
Social media is practically everywhere. If you’re running a business, having one is an absolute must.
That said, you should manage your accounts mindfully. Rise above competitors by offering more than just your products and locations.
Build your business up like a real person. Post relevant and timely content that reflects your brand’s persona. Respond to customer feedback and inquiries with a unique voice. Communicate with your audience like a friend.
To increase your chances of success, find a niche market that you can engage with. In other words, take advantage of being “local” and define who you are.
What type of people might frequent a gym? What culture does your menu reflect? How often do people visit laundry services?
This might limit or restrict the size of your customer base, but a faithful following helps build loyalty and longevity.
Go With A Gimmick
Today’s business gimmicks are getting more ridiculous by the minute–but they do possess a certain charm.
An effective gimmick allows people to remember who you are.
Be special by making people feel special. Show your customers that your business is one-of-a-kind.
Figure out what makes your business unique and allow that to shine through.
Want a tip?
Set up special deals and promos–even a cool contest or raffle will do.
The Internet is the sharpest of double-edged swords. On one hand, you get to reach people from all over the world; on the other, one well-publicized bad review can ruin your business forever.
Here’s something useful to live by:
Know yourself first–e.g. where you’re headed, who your audience is, what makes your business unique, etc.
Once you understand that and amplify it through the Internet, the possibilities are endless.