Get your company known in your local market
If a good chunk of your customers come from your local area, then you should take some steps to make your business “local famous.” It’s not difficult, but it does take consistency and commitment to build your company reputation. The great news is that very few of your competitors are doing all of these things. So, if your team takes this on, you’ll quickly generate an ongoing stream of local leads for your company.
Become a local rockstar in your industry:
Here are my top tips for getting your brand well known in your local marketplace:
1) Develop relationships with business reporters
Most cities have several business publications that are realizing that in order to survive in today’s Internet-biased world, they must do two things: 1) Tell more stories about local businesses and 2) Shift all of their publishing efforts to the online world. This means that they need your expertise more than ever. And, they are people who like relationships – just like you. So invite your local business editor and/or reporter out to lunch (if they can’t make it, then take them coffee and donuts – yes, really!). Ask them how you can help support their efforts. Examples of things they might want include expert quotes, industry trends, interesting or troubling news in your industry, changes in leadership, opening of new jobs, and so on. (NOTE: Don’t bug them when they are on deadline).
2) Provide guest posts for local business publishers
As I mentioned in Step #1, your local business publishers have shifted their focus to the online realm. This means they are on an ongoing quest for great content related to business. You have an opportunity to showcase your expertise as a guest contributor like I did in this article on Core Purpose for Oregon Business. If you are an authority on a specific area of expertise, you may even be able to get a spot as a regular contributor.
3) Nominate your business and people for local awards and lists
Your local business publications and organizations have a number of awards and lists. Examples in my local area of Portland include things like: 100 Best Companies to Work For, Orchid Awards (honoring top women business leaders), 40 Under 40 (recognizes younger high-achieving entrepreneurs), Best CFOs in Portland, Top Oregon Manufacturing Firms, and so on. The winners of these awards get lots of press when they win. Use Google to find out which local lists and awards are a good fit for your company and people. Then nominate yourself. Remember, if you don’t enter, you’ll never win – since it takes some work, this eliminates a lot of your competitors right off the bat.
4) Shop networking events until you find the right fit, then attend
While I’m sure you’ve already considered networking as an option, what you may not have considered is the right-fit networking event. Look, your time is precious. Therefore, you should commit to and attend only the networking groups that are going to allow you to meet your target audience. That’s why I recommend shopping around for several months. Use Google and ask business friends for recommendations to great networking groups, and then attend a few a month to see if your key buyers are actually attending them. When you find the golden groups, then (and only then) is it time to dedicate yourself to regular attendance.
5) Never go out to lunch alone
You have so many people in your local area who can connect you with other people. But, if you aren’t meeting with people on a regular basis, then my friend, you are missing a huge opportunity. Take people you know out to lunch or coffee. Tell them what’s new in your business and explain who you are looking for as new customers. Ask them about what’s going on in their life and how you can help them. Broaden your local network by connecting on an ongoing basis. The power of people is exponential. The more you take the opportunity to nurture and broaden your relationships with people, the more they will refer people your way.
6) Create amazing relationships with your customers.
Part of your sales force can be your thrilled customers. If you do everything you can to delight them, they will send you an ongoing stream of their friends to be your next customer. A few little extra things you can do include keep communicating and educating your customer after the initial sale. After service is deliver, check in with the customers to make sure they had a great result. Find out of they need anything else from your company and then serve them better then anyone else. Surprise your customers on their birthday, send hand-written notes of appreciation, invite them to valuable education events, facilitate peer-to-peer networking events and introduce them to partners that can successfully add value to them.
Bonus Tip: Become a board member of a prominent charity.
I will admit that this one can be a bit tricky. Becoming a board member of a non-profit organization can be a huge time suck. Therefore, make sure that the organization has a functional board with other prominent members. And, it should absolutely be a cause that you believe passionately in. That said, becoming a member of a prominent and well-known non-profit organization and contributing resources to it can have a huge ROI for your company. You can quickly expand your business network and deepen relationships with city influencers.
Local lead generation provides a huge ROI
Getting your business name to be “locally famous” will encourage customer loyalty, boost referrals, bring new business, and will help strengthen your brand against competitors. These strategies will not take you much money, but they will take you time and effort. But remember, you’re not just bringing in leads, you’re nurturing relationships and building your company’s renown … and that’s the kind of lead generation that will keep paying off for months and years to come.