Published on April 4, 2012 | by Gabe Arnold0
The Secret to Getting More Local Customers Is…
A well rounded marketing approach.
What do I mean by that? As an entrepreneur, I have had to take a careful look at my methods when it comes to marketing the businesses that I own, and the businesses that I am hired to market.
Stop Using Confusing Terms
If you have managed to stay in business for more than a few years, then it’s likely that you are doing something right. Taking care of customers, delivering quality products or services, and planning ahead are all things that you must have some level of competence in, right? But what about marketing? There are only two things in conversation that I discuss with business people that consistently make their eyes glaze over; “I.T.” and “Marketing”. Because both of those terms are so ambiguous, we often have a myriad of experiences or information that we relate to them. Marketing has so many applications that when we say “marketing” to another teammate, we could unintentionally be talking about two totally different actions.
So to start with, let’s stop saying marketing for everything and start using other words that more clearly define what we are actually doing. Let’s redefine the question: What actions should you be taking to bring new customers to your business? For the sake of example, we’ll say you are running Larry’s Lawn Care located in Burton, OH.
Review Your Current Efforts
Currently, as the owner of Larry’s Lawn Care, you are posting a classified in the Good News, a color ad in the Middlefield Post, and you also get referrals from your existing clients. The first and most important thing you can do is to begin to ask every customer that contacts you, and every customer that you currently have, how they found out about you. It’s important that you measure the success of what you’re currently doing to get a better picture of what is most effective.
Consider the Examples of Big Companies
If you want to find a good example of a well rounded marketing campaign, think about what large companies like Starbucks or Coca Cola do to market themselves. You’ve probably seen or heard their ads on multiple platforms like television, radio, online, and in print media at different levels. These companies are wise enough to realize that only pouring their resources into one or two media channels could spell disaster for them. What can you learn from this?
Create a Well Rounded Strategy
If you need more customers, or if you want to grow with the customers you do have, then I’d recommend you take a careful look at your current advertising methods. It’s tough to make a well rounded plan with only two or three points, but when you build in multiple components to your plan, you have a much better chance of reaching your customer in a variety of media platforms. When you touch your customers multiple times, they are much more inclined to remember you and then buy from you.
Single Faceted Plans Ultimately Fail
I will never tell you that you should only advertise in a single location. It’s foolish to think that only running ads online is adequate. It is equally as foolish to think that print by itself, or referrals by themselves are a stable marketing approach. It’s important that you get your message in front of your potential customers in many different formats. We never actually hear or notice the ad the first time we see it, so repetition in multiple locations is what makes a difference in encouraging us to take action on the messaging that we see.
Think about how you can set a reasonable budget in multiple areas:
- Print Advertising
- Email Marketing
- Incentives for Customer Referrals
- Radio Ads
- Online Advertising
Tell a Story Worth Hearing
I’ve met so many wonderful small business owners here in the Geauga County area. When you think of a great local business besides your own, which ones come to mind? You might have heard how that business got started, or how the owner found a way to follow his or her passion in their industry. It’s the stories that stick with us, not the basic product or service that is offered.
When you are creating your ads, writing up brochures, or choosing what media outlets to be in, be sure to outline a theme and a story about your company that you tell throughout all the platforms. If you are the third generation running your company, be sure your new and existing customers hear about that. If your founder is a single mom who worked nights to get the company going, people should know. Whatever unique story you can tell about your team, your customers, and your products and services, should be crafted into every single ad spot.
Dare to Educate Yourself and Change
So now that you know more about how to round out your marketing plan, I would encourage you to do some more reading on your own. Research the ways that other successful companies in your industry market themselves. Talk to company owners outside your industry. Find out everything you can and then take steps to change and improve.
I would hate to see anyone only use a single form of advertising, and then have that advertising platform dry up or change in a way that would cause them to lose business or go out of business. I have had that personally happen to me before. If you diversify wisely, then you have the opportunity to steadily grow and operate a sophisticated marketing department inside your business.
So get out there and make some changes. One of the things that Geauga News offers is a way to reach local customers right here in Geauga County. If you want to serve local consumers, I would recommend that you consider one of our sponsorship packages. Whatever you do choose, you should diversify. Don’t forget that!
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