No one doubts that times are tough for small businesses. Many of you are searching high and low for ways to increase your client base.
Perhaps you have updated your website or setup an email campaign for your target segment. Did you know that one of the most effective sources for new referrals and potential customers is right in your own backyard?
Service businesses from landscaping to computers to professionals have found community involvement provides not only a benefit to the participants, but also a great source for new business. Patty Holladay, co-owner of Data Doctors in Flower Mound, Texas, reports that 15-20% of her new clients come from her community involvement and speaking engagements in her local area.
Patty supports her community through the Chamber of Commerce, local business associations representing towns within 10 miles of her store, and she makes herself available to schools and church groups. Patty talks about identity theft and data security because she believes people and businesses are vulnerable and can protect themselves better. And at each meeting, she makes sure she has business cards to hand-out.
Patty may be unique in that she enjoys her role as educator and she is good at public speaking. However, there are other opportunities to do business networking that do not require you to do anything different than meet new people and talk a bit with them.
In addition to referrals from existing clients, community involvement is one of the most effective ways to generate new business opportunities. If public speaking is not your forte, think about writing an information article for your local newspaper.
No matter what your small business does, it is likely that you know more about something of interest to local citizens than they know. You can help them and introduce your business at the same time.
Remember, you are writing to inform not to sell. The selling is a subtle affect that comes from people knowing about you and knowing that you are an expert in your field. For example:
- If you have an HVAC service then you can write a short article on weather proofing your home
- If you service computers the write an information piece on data storage
- If you manage a cleaning service write about tips for keeping carpet looking new
- If you offer accounting services then tell people about recent changes in tax laws
If you do not have the time or skill to write an article, you can hire a freelance writer for few dollars to write the article for you. The point is to get your name out there for people in your neighborhood to see and get to know you.
Making a concerted effort to use local avenues for communicating about your business will result in meeting new people and getting new customers. Try it and see how many new clients you can bring to your business.