Using the internet to connect locally with your customers is an excellent way to get to know your customers. However, there is more to it than just being involved with online communities like:
* Google Plus communities
* And others…
Get involved with your community on a personal level. Show up at offline meetings, volunteer locally, and make yourself known to your local community in person. The days of being invisible and anonymous online are over. Getting involved in schools, places of worship, local businesses, community events and more is an essential component in any marketing effort.
It doesn’t matter if you have a retail business, a service business, or a completely online information marketing business. Establishing your expertise with locals should be an essential component in your marketing plan.
Use the online communities as an avenue to collaborate on local face-to-face meetings and events, rather than be “the event” itself.
To connect with customers locally:
* Join the Chamber of Commerce – Don’t just join; get involved. Go to business after hours events and other events. People love doing business with others that they know, and if they see you often enough at events they’ll be more likely to not only use your products and services but also to recommend them to others.
* Become a local news resource – Reporters have to work very hard finding sources for stories. Whenever you see a story where you can offer a new angle or more information, contact the reporters involved. Give them your number and email address and offer to be an open source of information to them regarding your expertise and they will call you often.
* Create a local shopping incentive program – Even if you sell products and services online, creating a local shopping incentive program will endear you to the local people and help you increase your own local sales.
* Become a local speaker – Many groups and cities have speakers bureaus; create a “one sheet” and get on the lists. A one sheet is a document that helps speakers market themselves in a simple format.
* Teach a local class – If you know how to do something that others might want to know how to do (be it blogging or making soap), you can often teach a class via your “lifelong learning center”, via another group like a women’s center or business group, or even by renting a place and doing it on your own.
* Host local events – Whether it’s a charity or a business event, becoming a host for local events is a great way to connect with local business owners and your target audience. Consider your target audience before choosing which types of events to host.
Just like with all your online endeavors, you want to be seen and heard in as many different areas as you can where your target audience is. If your audience is there, you need to be there too. Ensure that your business name, your name, and your products (and/or service names) are seen and heard everywhere.
By building support and recognition in your local community through connecting with people using local marketing methods, you’ll increase your expert status, make more sales and enjoy your business even more.