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How to Expand your Small Business Locally
By Rich Kahn, eZanga.com
Most small businesses get the majority of customers from the local community around them. But once you’ve settled into a place, it can be hard to attract new customers.
There are still several ways that you can continue to spread the word about your business beyond your already loyal customer base. Here are a few things you can do to keep your small business thriving in your local community.
Make sure your business’s location and phone number are listed in all relative directories (such as Google Maps, Yellowpages.com, or Local.com). You’ll also want to monitor these sites to make sure that the information is correct and as comprehensive as possible, such as including the hours of operation or a brief statement about what your business offers.
But, even though this is an increasingly digital world, you should also make sure your business is listed in the yellow pages of the phone book. That way, people will be able to find your business no matter where they look.
Set up a Website
You don’t need to hire a web design team to build a website, but you still want to make sure you have a site. Even if you’re a very small local business, most people will still look for you online using a search engine.
On top of directory listings, you want to make sure you have a website that pops up as well. A website will allow you to go beyond directory listings and post more information about your business, such as information about products, services and company culture.
Plus, you’ll be able to offer valuable content, such as a coupon or a how-to guide, depending on your industry. It also gives customers something to share when they want to refer your business to friends, and word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable to small businesses.
Create a Facebook Business Page
If you don’t want to set up a website, but you want to make sure you’re found online, creating a business profile on Facebook is a great way to do that. An optimized social profile will still show up on search results, but it’s much easier to create and maintain than a website.
With a prominent social media presence, you’ll be able to gain followers and more awareness online and post updates about your business and any sales or offers to keep it top-of-mind. You can also follow other local businesses and events to increase your network and connections and get more involved in your local community.
Have a Grand (Re)Opening
A grand opening can help spread the word and attract customers if you’re a new business. But, if you’re in the process of refreshing your business, consider having a grand re-opening to help reinvigorate your business. It’s a great excuse to hold an event that will attract old and new customers with the prospects of great sales, refreshments, and maybe even a prize drawing.
During the event, you can collect email or mailing addresses from attendees to help build your customer list. Getting the word out isn’t too difficult either. You can create a Facebook event and encourage your followers to extend the invite to a friend, or you can distribute a press release announcing the event.
Focus on a Single Product or Service Before Expanding
It’s easy to get lost in the idea of offering your customers as much as you can, but this is yet another issue of quality over quantity. Your customers are much more likely to spread the word about one great product or service that you offer rather than 10 mediocre products or second-rate service.
Remember that you can’t be all things to all people. But, in order to get on the map, you need to perfect a product or service that you can execute really well, and focus on first selling that in order to gain trust from people. Once the trust is established, then you can introduce more complementary products or services to your already happy customers.
Keep Your Current Customers Happy
It costs a lot more to gain new customers than it does to retain the ones you already have. So make sure you’re following up with your customers and checking that they’re happy with what you offered them. Encourage your customers to rate or review you online, and let them know that their feedback is appreciated. A valued customer is a happy customer.
This in turn helps you, because they’re also more likely to tell their friends about you, which will spread a positive awareness of your business throughout the community.
You want to make sure that people know the face behind it all. When you connect a face to your business, it humanizes your company and makes it feel more inviting and reliable, which is what makes small businesses unique in the first place.
Rich Kahn is the CEO of eZanga.com and has been recognized as a leader in the online advertising industry since 1993. Rich started eZanga.com, a digital marketing firm specializing in pay per click and pay per call advertising, in 2003 with his wife, Beth. Follow him on Twitter at @richkahn.
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