Running a business looks good on you. You’ve grown from a very small homegrown dream to a full-on operational business with employees and solid yearly revenue. Now that things are going well for you, have you ever thought about opening more than one location? Becoming a chain is the goal for many small business owners for many reasons, mainly because it spreads brand recognition and gets you exposed to a wider audience. As you know, though, people don’t start magically appearing at a new location simply because it exists. If you’re looking to expand your business and aren’t sure how to market in a new place, check out a few simple tips for making sure that you get noticed in your new digs.
Partner With Other Local Companies
Have you ever been to a hotel and been presented with a list of local restaurants or bars that the hotel recommends? There’s a reason that they’re mentioned by name, and it might not be for the reasons you think: Likely the hotel has joined forces with these establishments and gets a kickback for every client that they send. This is a very clever way to get a name buzzing and to pique the public’s curiosity.
It doesn’t always have to be eating establishments that you partner with; the possibilities are endless. For example, if you run on solar energy, you might reach out to a local solar energy company such as Connecticut Solar and advertise their service within your building. Does your company value green living and recycling paper? Check out local recycling services and ask them if they’d like to partner with you. You can even work with local auto shops and recommend their business to clients.
Whichever businesses you decide to collaborate with, don’t limit yourself to only one category. Nearby businesses will likely be your neighbours for quite some time, and reaching out is beneficial to both of you. You can be as creative as you want in how you choose to support one another.
Update Your Website
If you don’t have a website or have not updated it in a while, now’s your opportunity to let the world know that you’re planning on expanding and to expect a new location soon. As of April of 2019, about 80% of consumers checked out company websites before deciding whether or not to give them their business. That’s a huge number! If you take it into consideration, having a stellar website is more important than you might have initially realized.
There are definitely things that clients like to see on a website, and by making sure you include these features you can boost internet traffic and hopefully more foot traffic through your door:
- An “about” section. Tell your story to your clients and let them know where the company came from. Where did it come from and what was the inspiration? Reading your story, clients feel like they can identify with you and understand your history.
- Contact information, including your business email, telephone number and hours of operation. Sometimes having a form widget to auto-send to you can make things easier for clients than writing an email.
- Samples of finished work and testimonials from satisfied customers. Everyone likes validation from third parties to give them confidence in an unknown brand. Make sure to highlight the most impressive customer feedback on your site!
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Places like Facebook and Twitter are more than cat memes and witty status updates, they can also be a valuable marketing tool and a way for you to get direct and instant feedback from your customers. Although you can be in charge of your own business accounts, a handy tip is to hire a social media coordinator. These are trained professionals who often have a background in marketing, so not only are they good at managing corporate accounts, they also often have market research skills to better adapt to your target audience.
Social media is also a great place to get the public excited about your services and new products. Social media coordinators know how to tease new items and use mysterious tactics to generate buzz, as well as creating catchphrases and slogans to help the public recognize you. The more platforms that you use the better, especially when you’re reaching out to a brand new audience.
Let Online Reviews Be Your Friend
Websites like Google reviews and Yelp can be the best friend or the worst enemy of small businesses. You want to have as many five-star reviews as possible, so encourage happy customers to go online and click the button for you. For better or worse, online reviews carry a lot of weight in communities and all it takes is one scathing review to hurt your reputation.
While it’s alright and perfectly healthy and normal to see some constructive criticism in reviews, sometimes angry customers will lash out and write a particularly jaded one-sided review. You can go one of two ways with these kinds of reviews:
- Ignore them completely and only respond to the good reviews or
- Respond to the interviewer and inquire about their reason for leaving such a negative review.
The second method can be effective for many reasons, as it shows that you are actually there in person and are reading your reviews. It also can be a way for you to tell your side of the story and clarify anything inaccurate that the person said. However, being professional is critical when you go this route. Using profanity, name-calling or bullying is unacceptable and will undoubtedly make you look less rude, unprofessional and immature to the public.
Spice It Up With Local Flavors
You know the surge of excitement you get when you’re at a concert and the lead singer says “What’s up, (insert hometown)”? You love that your favourite band is paying homage to your area, no matter how small a gesture it is. When you decide to open up a location in another place, why not do the same? Show your support for the community’s local culture and show that you care about your new home.
- Spread the word and support the community at the same time by sponsoring a local team like Little League or T-ball. This familiarizes people with your name and your logo when parents keep seeing it on the back of their kiddos’ team shirts.
- Hang up the high school team colours and buy window decals from the student store. Students love seeing their mascot at nearby establishments and it gives them a sense of school spirit, plus it makes you look even cooler in their young eyes.
- Feature pieces from artists living in town, making sure to give credit with a nice little nameplate. It can be anything from sculptures to paintings to photographs of local destinations.
Deciding to open another site in a new location can be exhilarating and scary all at the same time, but it can be a great move for your business and get your name on more people’s tongues. Seeing that you are invested in the city your new location can help people to feel more comfortable with you and see that you are making an effort; a sense of unity is built and people feel like they can identify with you. Don’t be afraid to try new marketing methods to gain new business; the risk is worth the reward. With the new location, your small business is slowly but surely becoming a big business.
Also published on Medium.