10 Ways to Connect With Local Customers Today

Without a doubt, technology has changed the way that we interact with the world around us and in business that includes our potential customers. Millions of people are accessible to us through the internet, but how can we grab the attention of the ones we want? In a climate that has become truly global, how can local business stand out to attract their segment of the market?

Here are ten simple steps that you can implement for your business today:

1. Know Your Demographic and Market to It
While we may like to believe that the whole world could benefit from our product or service, you’ll run out of money long before you run out of venues to spend it. Start with the segment of the market to whom your product best appeals and sell it to them. If your market is 30 year old males, you’re not going to get return on your investment by advertising in a teen-focused medium.

2. Develop an effective website
A website serves as a great resource to speak for your business in a passive manner. Your website needs to be easy to navigate, feature helpful information, and identify the solution tou provide to meet the client’s need. To draw the attention of local customers, ensure that your full address and phone number appear on each page of your website so that they are more likely to be detected by search engines and pop up when someone is looking for your service in their area. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key consideration with websites to increase your expectations of visibility.

3. Become the local expert
It’s not all about making the sale. To be effective in business requires that you build relationships with your customers. Becoming a resource that the community can draw upon for expertise in your field may not always translate into sales immediately, but it does help to put you at the top of the community’s mind on topics associated to your field.

4. Unlock the power of social media
While a website is a great resource for customers who are seeking out your product, social media can provide a great funnel to get customers engaged and get them to your website. They may not even realize that they are interested in what your business offers, but you can reel them in with social media content that entertains as well as informs. To get the most out of social media, though, requires active participation and use to develop habit-forming behavior from your customers.

5. Establish a rapport with local media outlets
All too often, businesses ignore the mainstream media as an outlet to help promote their business. True, blatant self-promotion is not likely to garner any editorial space on the pages of your local newspaper. Instead, that outlet would be seeking some advertising budgets be spent. However, sometimes the human interest story behind the business is very compelling for the media, and opening the door to that relationship can create further opportunities for media attention down the road.

6. Network among your professional circle
Not everyone in business is a competing interest. You also have suppliers, vendors, and partner agencies with whom there are great advantages to have a professional relationship. Co-promote each other’s business through web links, social media posts, even something as simple as having their business card available on site at your business. This collaborative approach to attracting local clients creates a winning environment for all involved.

7. Create a “Call to Action”?
It’s important to create a sense of urgency with customers to compel them to react. While they may pass by your business every day and think “someday, I’d like to check that place out”, you can help to turn their ‘someday’ into today by giving them an added incentive to come in. Maybe there is a popular product or service that will be available in limited quantities, maybe you’re promoting a sale, or special offer. Heavily advertising the imminent need for action to get them curious and compelled to visit.

8. Fine tune your message
In today’s business environment, a merchant can’t often afford to specialize in just one area of products or services. Though you may have a wide array of selections to offer, don’t overload your messaging to the customers by trying to capture it all. Instead, focus on one theme and promote it well. This gives you lots of flexibility for future campaigns to share a new item that customers can be introduced to.

9. Register for free resources
There is no such thing as too many people knowing who you are in business, or having too many ways to find you. Register your business for free on websites such as Google places, which allows you to create a map dot for yourself that will appear on google maps for any queries related to your area. You might also look at websites like TripAdvisor and other resources that offer free listings and the opportunity for new customers to find you.

10. Evolve to E-Commerce
The trends are staggering, the number of customers that are now shopping online has changed the face of commerce. The growth of your business may benefit from opening up to the opportunities for e-Commerce. Whether it’s the implementation of a credit card reader that you can attach to your mobile device while appearing at trade shows and conferences, or opening up an online point of purchase, suddenly the world becomes local.