Despite the surge in businesses trading through ecommerce and social media, there remain in every town and village throughout the country a large number of businesses who don’t have the means or inclination to trade outside of their locality.
Typically such businesses would include local shops, convenience stores, medical professionals, gardeners and more and although they may not wish to expand their business to take in new locations, they do indeed need to ensure that their existing community is aware of updates to products or services – most likely whilst managing the costs too.
So just what can you do to raise awareness of your business in a community, particularly when you don’t have the budget to splash out on a marketing campaign?
- Existing customers – within certain sectors e.g. hairdressing, beauty salons, computer repairs, garages, etc you may have been required to take certain details at the booking stage or to have this information stored in the event of a future visit? Make a plan to organise the data and where possible encourage people to sign up for marketing updates – permission essential if you plan on doing this through email or by text message.
- Word of mouth – we all know that a dissatisfied customer can be quick to tell somebody other than the business what they really thought of your service but why don’t you encourage them to tell you instead? Ask them how their meal is or if they enjoyed their evening? Encourage them to fill in a customer comment form or if the service or product permits, pick up the phone and ask them are they happy – you’d be surprised how few businesses ever do this!
- Think outside the box – yes, probably one of the most overused phrases in business but sometimes that’s what you need to do. If for example your local village is running a crafts fair but your business doesn’t really fall into the correct category is there anything else you can do to participate? Where the budget simply isn’t there do you have anything you can barter with – yes, plain old fashioned bartering is back in fashion because it works!
- Volunteer – realistically there isn’t a town or village in the world at this point in time where lack of funds isn’t a problem. It’s a global issue that isn’t going to end any time soon unfortunately so if a local council can’t pay for something what you can as a community do together? Getting out there and becoming involved, no matter how mundane the task or outside your comfort zone it may be will help your long term needs. You may not see a surge in traffic to your store but people tend to think highly of those that give of their time for the greater good so consider it personal brand building – you might also be surprised to find you enjoy it!
- Ask for business – we’re not suggesting you plead for custom as depending on your area of expertise people aren’t always in the market for your product or service. However, when they are in a purchasing frame of mind do you ever actually think of the extras? An established chain of garages in Ireland do this very well by simply asking you when you’re paying for petrol “do you need anything else today” or “would you like a lotto ticket” – not rocket science but I’d imagine that it shows in the takings more so than others who simply take the cash?