What is "Local" and What is "Small"?
If you get business from your area, or anywhere that you consider to be close enough that you can easily get there or your customers can get to you in very little time and very little fuss, then this is "local".
"Small" just means that you are a freelancer, consultant, contractor or micro business / small business owner, and you have virtually only yourself and possibly only one or two others that are responsible for all the important decisions.
What is Business Marketing? Why Do It?
Some people view marketing as simply another word for "advertising", not realising that "marketing" is a very important aspect of business growth. A successful marketing strategy will enable you to connect with customers. At its most simple, the marketing message is about the "how" and the "why" - what does the company (you) do and how can a company (you) best get this message out to its (your) customers?
Of course, the reason for marketing is to increase sales. As a freelancer, consultant, contractor or small / micro business owner, it would be unusual for you to be in business unless you wanted to make money from selling your goods and services. As an additional benefit, increased sales could also increase the inherent value of your business, which could be sold later when you want to retire. Getting your message out in essence lets potential customers know that you have a "solution" for them, which is all that goods and services are (a solution that your customers are looking for), but they need to be directed to you rather than your competition to get that solution.
A Pragmatic Approach
Local Small Business Marketing can sometimes be a daunting aspect of running a micro business / small business or consultancy. Every customer is different and there is no exact rule about how to effectively reach them and sell to them.
However, some guidelines and ideas about what you can do to make your marketing (and sales) successful, and deliver the returns you want, include:
- Stay on the right side of the law – make sure you comply with Section 52 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (the Act) (formerly known as the Trade Practices Act 1974) that prohibits misleading or deceptive advertising conduct (http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2011C00003).
- Consider the importance of understanding your Target Market. Only a proportion of the population is likely to purchase any particular product or service, and remember you are specifically targeting "local". Pitching your sales and marketing efforts to the correct niche market will make you more productive and not waste your money or effort.
- Local small business marketing is usually constrained by limited budget. An effective way to market a local small business is to create a well-rounded program that combines sales activities with your marketing tactics. As you will be intimately involved in this (as with every other aspects of your business) your personal sales activities will not only decrease your out-of-pocket marketing expense, but will also add the value of interacting with your prospective local customers and clients. This personal interaction will also provide you with priceless feedback research on your marketing and business activities in general.
- Call your local vendors or local associates and ask them to participate with you in co-op advertising.
- "Reward" your existing local customers for their referrals, and / or provide buying incentives.
- Use the local media to run an "article" on you. Journalists can always find an "angle" that can make you newsworthy in a local paper, and this provides free publicity which can potentially boost your business. This will position you as a local icon / expert.
- If appropriate, invite your local customers into your place of business, especially if this can be done with a local event that is heavily promoted (not at your expense).
- Become a local "agent" for things that may not normally be your core business - eg: selling tickets for events – this gets people to your place of business.
- Become involved in the local community (such as charity events).
- Of course, an online presence is a must these days. With or without your own website, you always have access to free advertising on a business directory online such as HirePulse.