Over the last few months, I’ve had the privilege of spending focused time at local networking events, luncheons, and small business oriented gatherings. I’m learning a lot. Learning a lot of what I’ve been missing out on. The glamor and appeal of a ‘global’ business by having a whiz-bang website is appealing, but many underestimate the investment of time and money necessary to make it successful.
What if there was something you could be doing while pursuing bigger dreams of world domination with your Internet empire? What if instead of spending hours on end posting updates and comments on social networks, you spent more time engaging in a human social network? What if instead of writing articles designed to rank for the search engines, you wrote articles that ranked socially in the hearts and minds of readers? What if you ‘stayed home’ and became the local expert?
In this post, I’ll share things I’m testing out to engage the local business community, and how you can do the same.
Consider what Google is doing with local initiatives and small business. Their Get Your Business Online website campaign partners with local vendors to help small businesses get a website up and running with domain registration for free. If they understand the importance of succeeding locally, perhaps there is something we should consider as well?
Here are a few ways you can gets started with local marketing by meeting the right people, learning about what is happening in the local business community, and how you can fit in.
This is a social network for those who’d like to also socialize face to face. The reasons people meetup run the gamut, from knitting, to comic books, to everything entrepreneurship and online business.
Due to the fact that the site groups are so diverse, take the time to search out what you are looking for specifically, and look at the business meetup pages you are interested in for those registered for recent events the group is hosting, as well as activity on the page. I’ve found the activity on the level on the meetup group pages as a fair indicator what to expect at the face to face meetups.
Example: One Meetup group that seems to be clicking on all cylinders in my area is the Boulder-Denver New Tech Meetup. Lots of activity, and their Meetups often require registrants to go on a wait list because they fill up so quickly. Check it out here.
Local Chamber of Commerce
Most communities have a chamber of commerce. Not all Chambers are created equal, to be sure. What I’m finding is that, on the whole, they are very organized and create many opportunities for member business to plugin, get exposure and network.
I’ve found they often partner with other local businesses to deliver more value to members. One chamber near buy offers advertising rates at half price with a local print and online business publication. For a directory of chambers of commerce go here. International? Here.
Small Business Development Centers
This is something I’m just learning about. They put on some great educational seminars for small business. In my case I want to be a deliverer of small business marketing content to the local market, so I had to apply to be a presenter.
You can also benefit by going to local SBDC educational seminars an events put on by experts in your market. Get started by finding a local SBDC in your area here.
Local Business Journal
This is both a print an online publication. They are in 40 markets here in the US, and are often tightly connected with the local business community, chamber of commerce. It is a publication filled with local news and events, offering a bigger picture of what is going on in your local business community.
The online portion I find particularly useful. It allows me to setup alerts for companies I may want to watch, it also sends a daily digest in email of topics of interest which I’ve configured in my online profile. Learn more about the Business Journal in your market here.
What Really Makes Local Marketing Work?
Like many things in life, what you get out of these resources is often derived from what you put into it. Showing up to events, connecting with those who attend and organize the events are important steps to making inroads. Get familiar with the goals of the organization and see if you can help them.
As long as human beings are doing business, business will certainly thrive with human engagement, and that means face-to-face meetings. Social networks are great for business, but for small business I’ve come to believe that they should only supplement what you do locally.
Chime in below with your own ideas about local marketing.
Image credit: Meetup.com