In some ways operating a business in a regional town can be a lot different to operating a business out of a big city.
In my opinion, you have a lot of things working in your favour in a regional town. I think it’s easier to foster stronger relationships with your customers because as well as seeing them ‘at work’ you’ll often see them to say G’day on the soccer field or in the grocery store.
I also think there is more motivation from regional communities to support local business, so as long as you are providing a good product or service and aren’t charging the earth, you’ll be likely to have the local community’s preference.
Having now advised local businesses for ten years on how they can attract more customers to their regional business, there are at least ten tips I can share with you about this!
#1 Get people talking about your business
If you want people to talk about your business you generally need to do something that is remarkable. This could be anything from running an impactful and memorable guerrilla marketing campaign to providing an extraordinary product or service.
#2 Join local networking groups
Networking groups are a fantastic way for people to get to know the business owner behind the brand. People connect with people much more readily than they connect with a brand or a shop front. If people know, like and trust you as a person, they are more than likely going to feel positive about supporting your business as well.
#3 Run targeted Facebook Ad campaigns
In my opinion, businesses in regional areas are not taking advantage of the Facebook Advertising platform enough. Running Facebook Ad campaigns to a local market are quite simple to set up and can be a really cost effective way of letting people know about your business as well as helping you communicate your key messages.
#4 Start emailing your customers
Emailing is another really cost effective way to keep your business front of mind with your customers and prospects. You can communicate key messages such as special offers. Strengthen relationships by keeping your subscribers in the loop with your business happenings. Even better, add value to your email subscribers lives by providing them really useful tips or articles related to your product or service. NB This email series is a perfect example of this!
#5 Run an advertising campaign on Radio / TV / Print
It’s these advertising activities that small business can either jump into too enthusiastically or be a bit too tentative about. Truth is, if these platforms are used correctly and with enough budget assigned to them, they can be very effective. My advice is if you run these, make sure you measure their effect to the best of your ability. One client I have worked with would run campaigns on each channel separately, leaving a month in between each campaign so he could accurately measure the results of each channel.
#6 Enter your local business awards
The local business awards in a regional town are usually a pretty big deal. I know in our town, the annual Business Awards attract over 500 guests to their gala event. What a perfect opportunity to get your brand in front of such a large crowd of business owners. Even if your business is not business–to-business, other business owners generally make good customers. Not to mention all the leverage opportunity you will have if you get to Finalist or Winner status!
#7 Letterbox drop your local neighbourhood
This activity is still a winner. These days no-one gets anything much exciting in the mail. They get bills and they get junk mail. If you ensure that your direct mail piece doesn’t resemble any of the above, but instead intrigues the recipient with some clever headlines, messages or graphics your flyer, postcard or brochure stands to be noticed!
#8 Become active on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is now being used more than ever. It’s now much easier to access and engage with the Newsfeed and people are connecting and engaging all over the place. Remember, this social media channel is all about business and your profile is your resume. It’s the perfect place to position yourself as an expert in your industry.
#9 Employ a sales person
Now all of this clever marketing could lead to an influx of customers. Good problem to have right? Question is – are you the right person to convert those leads into sales? Do you have the capacity in your current day-to-day activity to follow up prospects? If the answer is no, perhaps you need to consider adding someone to your team that can help you turn these leads into dollars in the bank!
#10 Sponsor a local event or team
Community spirit in regional areas is often rife. And nothing says community spirit than a demonstration of your support of a local not-for-profit, sporting organisation or community event. I would advise you to be selective with your sponsorship though as it can be easy to bleed money to every person who knocks. Try and select the sponsorship opportunities that will provide you with exposure to your target audience, alignment to your organisations values and that help you to achieve your business objectives.