I don’t know if this is happening where you are, but where I live (Eau Claire, WI) there is a movement of local startups.
There have been a lot of startups that kind of have a global focus. I guess Ghost Blog Writers kind of falls into that group. I’m based here, but we have clients all over the world.
I’m intrigued by those kinds of startups, but I’m also intrigued by the locally-focused startups. These are the ones that sell to people in a community or visitors that come to that community.
Some of these can be traditional businesses with new niches. We have this local tavern here that is pretty cool. Obviously taverns have been around for a while, but this one has a rotating selection of craft beers so every time you go in (unless you go in daily) there is something new and fresh to try.
So today I’m focusing on how those types of businesses can grow and get more of their local customers or even customers from surrounding communities.
They don’t have as large of a customer base, but if you’re a local business your base might be bigger than you think especially if you try these strategies.
1. Event Marketing
This is a big one that I’ve noticed and I’m sure you’ve noticed it too. That tavern I mentioned does a really good job of this. They always seem to have some kind of event going on like the obvious happy hour, but also trivia night and things like that.
Many places also offer some kind of music event like bringing in a popular local band. Golf courses have Mens Night, Ladies Night and Couples Night. They also have charity events and business events.
When you host something you give people a reason to come to your business. It doesn’t have to be something elaborate, but it does have to offer something unique, interesting and possibly fun.
These kind of fall in the pleasure and entertainment industries, but I think most businesses could do it. Even a startup dentist could offer some kind of event like having a kids month or even better something like an instructional day talking about how to properly brush and floss your teeth.
The reason I think events work is because they’re not necessarily about the business. It’s about what the customer gets out of the deal like having fun with trivia or learning how to brush teeth from the professionals.
This is a big one. I see successful local businesses do this all the time. They look for partnerships with established businesses or maybe two startups get together to join forces and offer something cool.
To succeed you need to have a good product of your own, but often you can amplify your appeal if you partner with a complementary business.
Here’s one, a local drink company had some new drinks to offer so they partnered with local businesses to showcase the new drink. They would bring the drinks to the golf course on Mens Night and offer the drinks.
It could be a local farmer or co-op partnering with a restaurant to host a healthy farm fresh food month or something like that. And there you go with a combination of events and partnerships.
Look for other businesses in your area that can complement your local business. Look for ones that have the same customer, but that aren’t directly competing with you. You can likely team up to offer something your customers won’t be able to resist.
3. Local PR
The local press is your friend. It seems like around here all the smartest local businesses have relationships with the press in the area. The local TV anchors and station managers. The radio hosts and the local scene newspapers.
These relationships take time to form. And they won’t cover you just to cover your business. You need to have a story that is interesting to the viewers, listeners and readers. That’s where your focus has to be in order to get any kind of coverage.
One strategy is to host an event. The press is more likely to cover an event than they are to cover your business. So adjust the focus a little bit and create a story that would benefit and appeal to the press’s audience. That’s where you can get in with the press and start getting coverage.
Don’t take this as trying to appeal to everybody. I think one of the main strategies I’ve observed with just about all businesses over the years is that you don’t need to please everybody. That might mean turning away customers or not feeling bad if a certain customer doesn’t feel happy. You can’t please everybody. Focus on what you can do well and focus on the people that love what you do.