Let’s face it, the Internet isn’t the end-all and be-all to business success. When potential customers access your website, many of them will be locals searching for specific products and services and/or looking for contact information, location and business hours. If you want your business profile to grow, a slick website isn’t enough. You also need personal connections and relationships with the community that will pay dividends for years to come.
Promoting local awareness is, of course, the first step in forming these ties. Fortunately, that step doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Making your presence known and valued in the community can be accomplished in any number of ways.
- Get involved. Join your chamber of commerce, promote local events and festivals, identify yourself as a business owner concerned with the overall welfare of your community. Not only is this a great way to network and get your name out there (without overtly selling yourself), but you’ll make a favorable impression on and form lasting relationships with potential customers.
- Sponsor an event. Consider an open house. Invite customers to check you out and sweeten your invitation with the offer of simple refreshments, a sale, a door-prize drawing. Open houses also provide a unique opportunity to get to know your customer base. Contests are another tried-and-true way to raise your business profile. Offer a prize to the person who creates the best slogan for your business or who best describes what they like about you in fifty words or less. Remember: contests that get entrants thinking about you are the very best kind!
- Give something away. This works whether your business is product- or service-oriented. Once you decide what you’re willing to ante up, get the word out on your website, through social media, in your local paper, by word of mouth. Encourage every customer and potential customer to fill out an entry form that includes his/her name and e-mail address. You’ll increase visibility and build a mailing list!
- Remember the coupon clippers. Customers love a discount, and Sunday news readers love their coupons. Local smart buyer papers and school-related coupon books are other promising outlets. You might want to think about offering a coupon code through your website. Promote the code on social media, but drive traffic back to your website to get the actual code. The more people who visit your site, the more people who know about you and what you have to offer.
- Start an e-newsletter. These don’t have to be long or flashy, and they can be wonderful profile builders—as long as you don’t use them as advertisements or sales circulars! Talk about yourself, your employees, areas of interest related to your business. (For example, if you specialize in vintage items, include a piece about McCoy pottery.)
Bottom line, local awareness starts with building relationships. Do that and keep things interesting for potential and current customers, and before you know it, your local profile will be at an all-time high.