How to educate and connect to build local business
Have you ever thought about being a teacher? Teaching – whether it’s through a seminar, a workshop, or a continuing education class – can be an ideal way to build your business. You’ll meet new people in each community where you teach. The relationships that you start with your audience, and students, will be based on credibility, authority, and trust.
Many communities offer opportunities for business professionals to teach. You might connect with local community centers in your city, county or state and offer free weekend workshops or seminars. This is a great way to attract a new audience and build a relationship that begins with authority and credibility.
You can also teach at local community colleges or continuing education centers. Before you start hunting down teaching opportunities, though, consider what you’ll teach and who your audience will be.
Ideally, the audience for your class is also the audience for your business products or services. To attract them to your information and to make sure they walk away satisfied, you have to teach them something of value. Here are a few examples:
* A marketing service could offer a weekend seminar on social media advertising for small business owners
* A shoe retailer could offer a class on a proper running form and allow shoe demonstrations
* A graphic designer could offer a course on website design
* An information marketer in the parenting niche could hold a night class on homeschooling
Regardless of your audience and your business model, there are opportunities to educate and connect. Brainstorm the possibilities and then look for opportunities within your community. If you can’t find any openings, create them yourself. You can rent a room at a local hotel or banquet center, advertise the event and start building relationships in your community.
Next time we’ll talk about getting involved in local networking opportunities.
Leveraging the power of local networking
When was the last time you attended a networking event? They’ve changed a bit over the past few years. Now, networking groups regularly meet at pubs and restaurants. They connect on Meetup sites and work together to build strong relationships.
Today’s networking groups also have sponsors, hosts, and provide a wide variety of marketing opportunities for creative business owners. If you’re looking to connect with people in your community, you can leverage the power of local networking groups. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can make it happen.
Sponsor an Event
Many larger networking events have sponsors. Sponsorship can take many forms. You might pay for a portion of the event and help cover the costs. In some cases, sponsorship gives you the opportunity to set up a table and give things away.
For example, a marketing consultant might set up a table at a networking event and give away a free consultation, a free Chromebook, or maybe a goodie bag with marketing materials in it like pens and notebooks with your logo.
To truly leverage a networking event, ask for an opportunity to give a short talk. We’re talking about five minutes at the most. Use the time to introduce yourself, tell people the value of working with you or buying your products, and let them know where you’ll be so they can come and talk to you.
Host an Event
If you have local connections, for example your brother owns a coffee shop, then consider hosting a networking event. If you have the space to host one then you don’t need to ask your brother. Networking groups are always looking for new and interesting places to hold their meetings. It’s a good opportunity for local businesses to connect with professionals and consumers in their community.
As with any business relationship, the goal is to provide value and to connect with your audience. Align the networking group with your audience. A marketing consultant may sponsor an entrepreneurial networking group. A shoe retailer might sponsor a technology networking group or sales professionals. Networking groups are abundant and provide rich opportunities to connect. So do charities, and that’s what we’ll look at next time.
Build your audience by doing something good
Do you have charities that are near and dear to your heart? What about charities that are special to your audience and prospects? If you’re looking to connect with a local audience, look no further than their beloved charities. It’s an ideal opportunity to do something good and connect with prospects in your city and state. We’re talking about sponsoring a charity or hosting a charity event.
What Sponsoring Involves
Generally speaking, it takes a lot of time, money, and energy to host a local event. Imagine putting on a 5K fun run for your humane society all by yourself. It’s a lot of work. However, you can sponsor local events. Sponsorship usually gives you a good deal of options. In many cases, charities organize their event sponsorship in levels.
For example, a platinum level may mean that you donate $2000 to the cause and you get your name on the event t-shirt and a premium position for your business at the event. A gold level may mean you get your name on the brochure, you donate $1000 and you get to put up a table or booth at the event.
And a silver sponsorship means you get a table at the event. This is a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea. You donate the level that you’re comfortable donating and you get to reach a larger audience with your brand name and marketing materials.
Now, this may sound like glorified advertising. However, it’s also a fantastic marketing opportunity. You can now write press releases about your sponsorship. You can take photos at the event and share them on social media. You can volunteer at the event, shake hands, introduce yourself and get involved.
It’s about more than getting your business name on an event t-shirt; it’s about showing your community that you care and following it up with your time and money. It’s about getting involved in a good way. And, your sponsorship may become an annual event.
How to Choose the Right Charity
Take a look at the charity events in your community. Align them with your audience and your business products or services. For example, if you are a shoe retailer then you might sponsor a run for charity. If you’re a marketing consultant then you might sponsor a non-profit that teaches people how to start a business.
Once you’ve identified a few charities or charity events, explore their sponsorship opportunities to find the one that best suits your current goals and needs.
Charities aren’t the only opportunities in your community to connect, though. In fact, you may be overlooking the simplest way to connect. We’ll take a look at that next time.
Build your business by attending local networking events
Do you network? Recently we talked about sponsoring local networking events and all that entails. However, there is a simpler way. It’s a good way to test the waters and see how active local networking groups are. We’re talking about attending local networking events to build connections in your community.
Because you know what networking is and you probably know how it works, rather than talk about this concept as a strategy, let’s instead explore some tips to make networking work for you as a way to build local connections.
1. Find a group that makes sense. Check out your local Meetup groups and search online for local networking groups and events. You’ll likely find a dozen or more in your community. Review the types of professionals that connect in the group.
For example, is it a group for technology pros or a group for sales professionals? There are networking groups that are quite specific, for example “Women in technology,” and there are groups that are more general and almost anyone can join. Your group also needs to match your audience.
2. Attend a meeting. Head to the next networking outing or meeting. Shake hands, introduce yourself and ask questions. It’s the third part there that trips many people up. Networking isn’t about telling people what you can do for them. It’s about listening to them and asking questions and becoming a problem solver.
3. Attend another meeting. The best connections are built not by attending ten different meetings with ten different networking groups, but by consistently attending the same networking events and building relationships with people. Become a member of the group and strive to start building relationships.
4. Leverage the relationships. As you meet people and become a trusted resource, the opportunities will start coming forward. You’ll meet people who you’ll forge partnerships with. You’ll gain new clients and some of those new clients will tell others about you.
5. Connect outside of the group. Connect with your new networking friends on social media. As you share posts and comment on posts, you’ll start reaching a larger group of people.
Networking is one of the simplest ways to start building connections in your community. Find a group that best matches your audience and attend a meeting. Build relationships by offering value and by becoming a problem solver. You’ll be amazed at the opportunities that come your way.
Next time we’re going to step away from local groups and charities and talk about an opportunity that you might not have considered before.
Using publication to reach your local audience
If you’re a business owner then there’s a very good chance that you’ve done a lot of writing. You’ve likely written marketing emails, blog posts, and articles to publish on your site. You may even have created information products, marketing materials, advertisements, press releases and more.
Content is the foundation for any business marketing, and most entrepreneurs do some of their own marketing. That means you’re fully equipped for this local marketing tactic – that is, to write and publish an article in your local paper.
Now before you shake your head and think, “I’m not that kind of writer,” remember that you don’t have to be. You can outsource any type of writing and have your article ghostwritten. If you don’t want to write the article yourself then don’t worry about it.
Your job, and it’s the most important one, is to learn what your local paper likes to publish and to pitch them an idea that they buy into. You have to convince the paper to publish your content.
What Publication Achieves
Assuming that you pitch your idea and the newspaper editor agrees to print your piece, then it’s a good idea to know what you have to gain. An article published in your local paper is a huge opportunity.
It allows you to add some credibility to your business. It gives you an opportunity to actually market the article – to tell people about the article on social media, via email, and on your blog. It may also start conversations with people that you meet when you’re out and about in your neighborhood. Publication in your paper helps you reach new people, educate them and provide value, and add credibility to your business.
Brainstorming Ideas and Pitching Your Article to the Paper
Before you pitch an idea, you have to have a good understanding of the newspaper’s audience and your own audience. You have to see where the two come together and explore how your content can add value to the newspaper audience as a whole. Often there is an opportunity to talk about a current trend or issue in your industry.
Keep in mind that your first pitch may be rejected. That’s okay. The response may give you a better indication of what the paper is looking for, and if it doesn’t then ask what types of stories they’re interested in. This is a relatively low cost opportunity to connect with your audience and build your business.
Next time we’re going to focus on how to connect with local business owners, and how that can help your business grow.
Team up with local business owners and grow
Have you experienced the power of partnerships? Teaming up with other business owners in your community can help you reach a whole new audience. Previously, we’ve talked about networking and opportunities. Partnerships may be one of those opportunities that you’re able to create through networking. Rather than talk about how to obtain those partnerships, let’s take a look at the different types of partnerships you might create and what they can mean to your business.
* Cross-promotion – A cross-promotional partnership is a simple one. If you and another business owner have complementary business ideas, then you can work together to promote one another. For example, a marketing consultant might partner with a printing business, or a nutritional coach might partner and cross-promote a personal trainer. You can cross-promote one another by guest blogging, by word-of-mouth marketing, and other tactics that you both agree to.
* A new product or service – Partnerships can take another form when two or more people band together to create a new offer for their audience. For example, a nutrition coach and a personal trainer could create a joint offer to provide both coaching services to their clients.
* A new business or business model – For example, one website owner might join with another website owner and merge their models. This doesn’t happen as often, but it does happen. Or you might join to create a new business model.
Teaming up helps you reach a larger audience. You reach the audience that your partner’s already tapped, and you reach a new audience as you both market your partnership. It’s a great way to broaden your business and connect with more people in your community.
Next time we’ll take a look at a tool you’re likely already using, and we’ll talk about how to use it to connect with locals.
Leverage Facebook to spread the word
Chances are you’re already using social media to market your business. However, you might not be leveraging it to gain local attention. There are a few different ways that you can do this. Let’s take a look at some of your options.
With many social sites like Facebook and Twitter, you can create promoted posts or ads and establish parameters about who sees those ads and posts. This means you can create content specifically for your local audience.
When you designate the parameters to only publish your content to locals, you are then able to make sure that your content reaches the right people and achieves your goals. This gives you an abundance of control over your message and how it’s received. You can also see who viewed, clicked on, and shared your information and then reach out to them personally to build a relationship.
Using the same demographic controls, you can hold social media events for your local audience. You might hold an online seminar for people in your community and give a talk about something that’s relevant to them and your business. For example, a marketing consultant might talk about how to market specifically to your community. You can see who attended and send follow-up marketing messages and content to them specifically.
Connect with Local Businesses
Make a deliberate attempt to connect with local business on Facebook and Twitter. Comment on their posts and get involved in their community. By participating in their social media page, you’re reaching their audience which is also your audience. And the relationship you build on social media may extend to a business relationship and cross-promotion down the road.
If you’re not leveraging social media to connect with your local audience, now is the time to add that goal and strategy to your marketing mix.
Next time we’ll take a look at a specialized approach that can be a fun way to get out and connect.
Three ways to get the attention of local media
Have you ever been on the news? We’re not talking about the man on the street interview during a heat wave or after a storm; we’re talking about talking with a reporter about your business. Your brand awareness can double overnight. However, it can be a bit tricky to grab their attention. Here are three tactics that can work for you.
1. Court Them
Send local media representatives, including radio DJs and television stations, sample products. You might send gift baskets with your products or items that you’ve chosen specifically for people at the station. With your gift, consider sending a note on story ideas and how your business offers value to the community. Tell them what makes your business unique and why their listeners or viewers will care.
2. Become Notable in Your Community
We’ve talked about sponsoring local charity events as well as teaching and holding workshops and seminars. These are great ways to get local press and publicity. When your name becomes recognizable, news media are more willing to pay attention to you. Support your community and they in turn may recognize that support and give you the coverage that you’re looking for.
3. Build Relationships
Today, local media representatives are active online. Become someone who consistently offers value to them. Position yourself as a credible and trustworthy source of information. When they learn to trust you, they may come to you with questions about your industry and use your information on their broadcast.
Getting media attention can take time. It requires patience. However, it can also yield fantastic results. Work to gain a positive reputation in your community and make sure that local media know who you are.
Next time we’ll look at a different way to market your business, where you get to connect with people and find new customers.
Community fairs and festivals can be a boon for business
Have you ever thought about having a booth at your local farmer’s market? What about a display at local fairs and festivals? Chances are there are many opportunities to set up a booth or a table to market your business. While this tactic works very well for product-based businesses, it can work for service providers too. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
A Health and Nutrition Coach
An online coach can set up a booth at the local farmer’s market. It’s always a good idea to have something on the table to attract attention. You might set up a drawing to give something away, like a free consultation or evaluation. You can also give away something that really grabs attention, like an electronic device.
Another option is to sell or give away samples or books that support your business. However, ultimately you want to talk to people and connect and get them to reach out to you later. For example, you might get them to sign up for your email list. This is why a drawing is a great idea because you can notify people via email and collect addresses at your booth.
A Shoe Retailer
A retailer may have a better time at a market or an event. It’s easier to sell a product than to pitch a service. You can set up your table and an assortment of your inventory. Mobile payments are easy to take and now you’re selling directly to your neighbors, even if your store is online.
The challenge for retailers with this tactic is to find a venue that makes sense. If you’re selling shoes at a farmer’s market, you may confuse people. However, if you’re selling shoes at a local street festival that includes a 5K or a fitness event, then it can make more sense.
Getting out and selling your products and services in public, even if the majority of your business is online, can help you build awareness and make connections. People talk and they like to buy from local businesses. Getting out in public can help you find new customers.
Next time we’ll take a look at how you can use group coupon programs to market your business.
Should you participate in group coupon programs?
How many local coupon programs are available in your community? We’re talking about things like Groupon. Many communities have a handful of other local deals type programs. Participating in these programs can help you connect with a larger audience.
Group Coupon Best Practices
When utilizing this type of program to build your local audience, there are some things that are important to consider. The following best practices will help you make the most of this approach.
1. Read the terms of the coupon service. Look specifically at things like fees. For example, how much of the sale do they take? If a customer buys a $50 coupon, some services take as much as 50%, leaving you with $25 on an already discounted product or service.
Also take a look at their requirements. Some coupon services require you to offer a specific number of coupons. So you might have to offer 50 coupons. At a discounted rate for your products or services, this may not make sense.
2. How will you convert? What steps can you take to turn coupon customers into returning customers? Many people buy group coupons to get a good deal. They use the coupon and then never return. The goal is to build your customer base by enticing local customers with a deal.
3. How long will you offer the group coupon? Consider limiting the time that the coupon is available. It increases scarcity and urgency so potential customers buy now.
5. Measure and track success. Evaluate your return on investment. Track how many coupon customers became repeat customers. Measure the expense of the campaign and the profits. For example, were you able to upsell coupon customers and earn more?
Group coupon campaigns work well to attract the attention of local consumers. They are not risk free, however. It’s important to pay attention to the fine print, implement controls, and track your results.