How would you pursue to build business in a fairly new neighborhood community?
I have been trying to build business by pursuing various activities (including networking) over the last year; of which some were successful and some were not. My business is under 2 years old located in a fairly new neighborhood. What activities do you suggest to build good business?
Not knowing exactly what you do I'll have to be generic. You can join your local chamber of commerce, have an open house, hire someone to go door to door and deliver a flyer or door hanger in your area code. Sponsor a local event and/or local little league team, soccer team etc. Be a vendor and have a booth at someone elses local event that attracts your target market. Ask to be a guest on your local business talk radio station. Create your own internet radio show.
Food for thought...What type of business is it, what are you selling, and in what type of neighborhood and demographics? New areas can be middle class, high income, or a mix. Are you just wanting general exposure or needing something deeper and more long-lasting?
Are relationships important? Is there an opportunity for repeat business? What kind of up-sells, cross-sells and add-ons can you offer? Do you have a back-end in place to extend lifetime customer value?
How much do you charge and for what? What are your expected or needed margins? What have you learned from the business you've gotten so far?
Do you have a formal referral program or do you call whatever the wind blows in the door a referral? Certain types of businesses can be built solely on referrals with a "real" referral program and not just a casual reminder to clients that they can send you business.
Generic suggestions for generic promotional activities produce generic results. Are you wanting to position your business as the go-to, best choice in the area? If so, those ideas just expose people to your marketing. Your marketing "message" is what you really need to focus on.
Can you describe your ideal customer or client? How are you targeting them specifically? Are you marketing with a one-size-fits-all message or something more specific to each buyer persona's needs?
Do you have a risk-reversal so a client has little or nothing to lose by doing business with you? Do you offer any incentives or bonuses that make a more compelling offer?
What kind of competition do you have? Have you shopped your competition for their points of differentiation and any advantages they might have or think they have?
Getting more business isn't just about getting found or seen. That's actually the easiest part. You to get seen and noticed, then attract leads and prospects, then expose them to why you're their best choice - their only real choice.
That doesn't happen by making the same tired claims everyone else does. And it doesn't happen by just showing up at events or networking.
Best customer service, highest quality, number of years in business, highly trained, etc., people already expect those things as the bare minimum to be in business to begin with. Most all businesses make a variety of those claims.
You making them too blends in with all the other noise. Customers have nothing substantial to base their decision on or compare against other than price.
Competing on price devalues you and your offerings. Competing on price comoditizes industries, professions and markets.
In their heads people still ask, "What's in it for me?" and you have to answer that and other questions in a compelling way or you're just as boring as your competitors.
Having value differentiation, a compelling offer and targeting your specific niches with laser-sharp marketing messages that speak to specific needs is what gets you more business.
Anyone can have a web site, blog, do social or ppc. You need a unique selling proposition that convinces people you are the best choice, the only real choice for what you do. Then make an offer in your promotions that people needing your services or products can't refuse - one that compels them to at worst make an inquiry and at best make a purchase.
The problem with suggestions from others is that you often get ideas that the people suggesting them wouldn't do themselves or have never tried.
Networking is fine, but you still need to differentiate face-to-face. Practice a compelling elevator pitch with an offer they can't refuse. Test different offers to see what really strikes a chord and gets the most reactions, response or further questions. Always get contact info and follow up with a free checklist, top 10 tips, or something else as an excuse to start nurturing the relationship. Then share more info regularly so they realize your expertise and willingness to be there for them.
Copying other businesses doesn't differentiate. It blends in.
Remember that sometimes an "offer" isn't about trying to make a sale, but might be nothing more than getting them to say a tiny "yes" to something that allows you to start building the relationship.
Door-to-door is interruption marketing at its best with cold-calling a close second. They are both hugely hit-and-miss, hope-and-pray marketing/sales tactics and position you as desperate, not expert.
Email marketing is very good, but you need to build a list and not be selling all the time. There are ins and outs involved, but it's still a very feasible tool.
SEO and PPC is good, but SEO takes more time and effort. PPC might cost a bit more on the front end, but at least it's very specific targeting on the short term. You will still need to do the keyword research, write the ads, set up testing and landing pages on your web site, etc. You need someone who is experienced or you can drain a credit card very quickly.
With PPC, definitely set a low daily /monthly spend to start. And make sure you are NOT running anything on a display ad network until you know how to do it right.
Like everything, whatever you try will likely have a little room for error. There are many ways to fail and usually just a few variations that get the desired results. If you can hire someone to help you with any or all this, get someone who either guarantees results or get paid based on results.
MAKE PEOPLE YOU HIRE ACCOUNTABLE FOR PRODUCING RESULTS! Otherwise you'll be paying for their inexperience, lack of responsibility and inability to deliver what you paid them for. And you do not want them learning on your dime!
I would STRONGLY URGE YOU to claim your Google Business Listing for your local map and update it MONTHLY with a new coupon or offer. Also establish your local business citations in the top locations online. I don't have the list handy, but you can Google "local business citations list" and find enough to start with.
If you are in the US, you can also start here ( I have no affiliation with any of these links. I've just been combining online and offline marketing for 17 years and I know they are very reputable):
Be absolutely sure to use the EXACT same info for EACH of your citation listings. You do not want it to vary by even a period if possible. Pay attention to consistent capitalization and completely fill out every place for data whether it's hours of operation, photos, coupons, video, etc.
And of course you can hire a company to do all that for you. Just BE SURE that if it's a month-to-month service your listings don't disappear if you decide to stop the service. that's why doing it yourself and keeping track of all your log-ins keeps it under your control.
One more thing - everyone isn't buying today or even this week. You need systems and process that keep you, your USP and your special offers top-of-mind so that when a buyer is ready, you're their first thought.
That's how you get more business ANYWHERE.
One of the first thing you will need to do is step back and observe other businesses that are successful in the neighborhood. What are their models? How do they engage community members on social media? You will then need to adjust your networking and marketing models to mimic their success. Growing a business locally is just as organic as growing a garden, it takes observation and knowledge about the soil and planting the seed for productive results.
Luana, I agree with Toluwanimi. In a new community, you have a great opportunity to jump right in and introduce yourself. Probably most people will be new to the area and not know many other people, so they are likely quite open to being contacted. They also need to be served in their new community, so potentially ready takers for your offering.
Good old fashioned door knocking might not sound glamourous but it's cheap and easy to organise. It's also a very effective way of building a relationship quickly. Get to know local business owners too and any little hubs there may be like schools, where people meet.
Door knocking has one more benefit...you can probably cancel your gym membership ;)
Being a new community, business is expected to be slow. You should look into what the community needs and lacks and start from there. You could also look to see if there's a way the community socialises and make friends from there.
Most importantly since you've had some that have been successful. I think it's only wise to invest more in those ones.
Local SEO would help. At least creating and optimizing a Google Business location if you have not already done so. My answer would partially depend on what type of business it is and if it's product or service based. PPC doesn't always work so well depending on your niche. If you are a local business in a growing neighborhood, social media marketing would also work well for you. Setting up promotions on Facebook and Foursquare to get people to come to your store. If you could elaborate on what you have already tried and what type of business you own, I could give a more detailed answer with my recommendations.
Considering that it is a fairly new neighborhood, a couple things come to mind.
1. You may have some opportunities with pay-per-click marketing on Google. I will caution you that if you don't have experience with this, you should contact a professional that does. PPC marketing can get really expensive really fast for novices. That said, reach out to an expert and ask if there are opportunities for local keywords with some traffic and little competition.
2. I would also consider finding a service to do some local SEO for you, again as you may have some traffic to local keywords with little competition. That's basically taking steps to get your business found on Google local searches (the ones that come up with about six businesses and the map with the red dots). The following blog post has a lot of great information on local SEO: http://moz.com/blog/ultimate-local-seo-audit
Hope this helps and good luck!