I thought I would put together some of my thoughts on small business that has a geographic area that they want to operate in of, let’s say, a 15-kilometer radius. What are some of the cheapest and fastest ways of getting customers? I have often recommended these methods and tried them out with clients, and they do work, and I have seen them working with our existing clientele.
So if I took a plumber or a builder as an example, the easiest way to get clients in these industries is to do an excellent job. Be tidy, turn up on time, clean up after yourself, and be friendly. If you accomplish all those things, you probably have more work to do than you know what to do with because the kind of person that makes a referral, is not going to do that if you are scruffy, untidy, make a mess, run late or don’t show up at all. Okay. You cannot help it. Sometimes we all are late to appointments, or things go wrong, or we have misadventures or less than ideal projects, but if you can aim for that tidy, organized type of approach, then it is going to help a lot with getting referrals.
So for local business, and I have done this with our computer repair business before, things like flyers, magnets, business cards, postcards, pretty much anything that you can stuff into a letterbox is a good thing to do. Also, fridge magnets have a pretty good longevity as well. You can find that people do not throw them out as much as a flyer or a business card. They might keep it around if they are interested. A fridge magnet just has that tiny amount of utility. It can hold things to the refrigerator, so people tend to hang on to them more often. The real estate agents are classics at this. You will see they put magnets out all the time and put little calendars on things like that.
The next thing to do is, prepare some basic website. Even if you are not ready to have a full, multi-page website with lots of information, have a one-page website with a couple of photos, a phone number with a little description of what you do and a contact form so that the people they are referring could get hold of you pretty quickly. So I would say that is a pretty low bar to reach regarding website building, but it would be okay for just getting people to be able to find you and maybe know your name.
Getting listed in Google Maps or Places, the Google local listings is the next method, and you can even do this without a website. It is an excellent way of showing up when people are searching for local service. So if I search for the town name or a city name and then a service, you can almost be sure that Google is going to show us a map listed businesses. You do not have to have a website for that.
Now, in Australia, we have got the Gumtree classified, which I think is also in the U.K. and there’s probably other ones, like Craigslist in America. So there’s no doubt that a well-placed ad on a classified website would work, and if you have a reasonable offering of service, and people are looking for someone to help with these things then that can work pretty well. You may not get the real, high-spending type of inquiry but if you want a way to get your name out there, then that is one way of doing it.
I am a big believer in doing actual in-person networking. So I am a member of Rotary, when I can, I try and attend things like Chamber of Commerce meetings or other functions. It is tough to fit all these in. I mean, you have got to pick your mark a little bit because you do not have unlimited time to do this and there are heaps I would like to do more. However, as a guest, you are quite welcome to visit places like a local Rotary Club networking group or some similar kind of networking group. Also, there will be a Chamber of Commerce in many cities or even not so big cities which you can go along to guest presentations and things like that. Moreover, the idea is not necessarily to go, and spam everybody with your business cards so if you can go and make one friend, sort of use the friend in that, make an acquaintance, someone that you can have a conversation with, that might be enough.
In some situations, it may be that you can hand out more than a few business cards but, I guess one thing I have noticed is that with trades type companies, there tends to be a relatively high demand for good people who do good work. Moreover, if you took a group of 50 people at random or in a group unless one of them is already a plumber that everybody knows, then there is a good possibility that there will be somebody there who has a drain that needs unclogging or a kitchen sink that needs replacing. So actual networking in-person can be quite cost-effective. Often you might pay for your breakfast or dinner or something like that, but it can go pretty well.
You can certainly do a Google AdWords campaign and some search engine marketing for local business, but you need to have a sense of how many inquiries you want to get. Because if you are a one or a two-person business, and the search engine marketing works well, what do you do if you get two, three, four inquiries a day? Now, that may not be a problem. That may not happen to you, but you should at least have an expectation of, “Okay, how many inquiries do I want? If I have an extra two questions per week, is that going to be enough?” Now with some of our clients, they have relatively big businesses so they can scale to accommodate quite a few inquiries. They do have a limit as to what it will take to book them out, but they are not going to fall over if they get a handful of inquiries in one day. However, you want to make sure that you can sustain the workload.
So if you are already at 75% capacity, then you can probably fill that extra day a week by doing a little letterbox drop and setting up your Google Places listing and maybe just see how that goes. Alternatively, just do a simple website and get some business cards. Many tradespeople do not even have business cards so you could knock that one off. It would be pretty easy.
So I am sure there are lots of other ideas. You know, you can have some signs, as signwriting has always worked well for us in our building. You can get some sign writing on your car or your vehicle, things like an A-frame or some sign that you can put out when you are working in an area or at the front of your shop. In some circumstances, it is likely that you might be able to leave a sign on the job. So if you are installing windows or maybe you are doing pest control, with the permission of the property owner, you might be able to put a little sign on their gate for a period. Moreover, if you want to sweeten the likelihood of that happening, you might offer him a small discount or say, “Can put this sign on here?” and they say yes, maybe you give them a little gift. Something like that to see if you can convince them to put that sign there for you. I have certainly seen lots of pest inspectors that put stickers on the water heater or fridge magnet on the refrigerator once they have been through and done the job too.
So just a few ideas for some basic local marketing. I hope you find that helpful.
Season- Keen to Design