Turn Your Bad Small Business Location Into An Asset
Location, location, location matters because it’s a key driver of attention, traffic and sales
There’s reason that place is one of the original 4Ps of Marketing since it determines your business’s location physically and mentally in your prospect’s mind.
A bad small business location causes your firm to be out of sight and out of mind for your audience. Your small business marketing must compensate to stay visible and easy to do business with.
In today’s connected world, you may think that a bad small business location matters less. But as my Accounting professor used to say, “It depends,” because a poor location applies to your physical and online addresses.
Even if your resources are tight, don’t make your real estate decisions based solely on price. Take time to assess other related marketing and business expenses.
This article will show you how to overcome your bad small business location. Before using these small business location tactics, take some time to assess your business location and set your key marketing basics. This will help streamline your small business marketing.
Overcome A Bad Small Business Location: Tactics Before You Start
5 Steps to Examine Your Small Business Location
Do your homework to learn about your physical location. This enables you to best position your small business marketing. This matters whether you’re deciding where to locate your business or if your location was set for you.
- Study your existing business, if you’re not starting from scratch. Look at the current merchandise, marketing, layout and records including financials, inventory and other documentation. If you’re starting fresh, find similar businesses that you can observe to get familiar with this information.
- Examine the other retail establishments in your location. Go into the stores to gather information. Talk to shoppers and store owners. Where appropriate buy something to see how they treat customers.
- Get to know the people in the neighborhood. This means the people who live there, work there or visit there. If there’s a local coffeeshop or restaurant, stop by and spend time there to find out about the people who live in and frequent the neighborhood.
- Review your competitive environment. Understand the context in which your prospects and visitors view your business. Determine the gaps and opportunities for your physical location and online presence.
- Take a field trip to look at similar businesses in other locations. Learn how they run their business. Discover other ways to select, display and price merchandise. Keep a record of what they’re doing as well as potential opportunities and problems.
3 Key Small Business Marketing Basics Based On Location
Once you understand your physical location and audience, draft the following 3 key elements of a small business marketing plan.
- Establish your small business mission. Based on what you’ve learned about the location and environment, develop a mission statement. The goal is to set your business apart.
- Determine your potential audience. Include prospects, customers, endusers, readers, employees and others. Don’t brainstorm an imaginary buyer. Find people who need and/or want your products. Then talk to them. After doing this, create a set of marketing personas.
- Develop your small business brand. Small business branding sets your business apart, makes your small business appear bigger than it is and doesn’t require a big marketing budget.
How To Overcome A Bad Small Business Location: Offline Tactics
Overcome A Bad Small Business Location: Spiff Up Your Physical Presence
Regardless of your business’s physical location, maximize what you’ve got.
- Maximize retail signage. Don’t cheap out on your sign! It attracts attention even when you’re closed and directs people to your front door.
- Make your window into a customer magnet. Display your best product in the front window. Alternatively create a window display that people go out of their way to see. Ensure that your window supports after hours shopping.
- Offer unique merchandise. Be the sole supplier of a specific product line in your area.
- Transform your business into a destination. Give people a reason to travel to your location. For example, Peter Luger’s restaurant lured steak lovers to Brooklyn since 1887.
- Develop physical location opportunities for small suppliers. Partner with businesses located online or outside of your trading area.
- Offer special services or classes. Go beyond selling products. Create paid training and educational offerings.
- Let people and/or groups use your location. Make your physical location attractive to a broader audience by offering activities or a place to meet for a book club, talks or movies.
- Make your customers into bag ladies with portable signage. Provide brightly colored shopping bags with your logo, name and address. Or offer reusable bags that customers continue using.
- Give employees attractive branded shirts, jackets and totes. Include your name, location, phone number and URL.
- Attract attention and promote your business with your vehicle(s). Include your company name, address, phone number and URL. Suburban Flying Fingers‘ created a Yarnmobile to transport New York City customers out to their store.Overcome your poor small business location using your company vehicle
Overcome A Bad Small Business Location: Offline Tactics Outside Your Front Door
Think outside your front door to extend your small business reach to overcome a bad business location.
- Place a moveable sign in a nearby heavily trafficked location (where legal!) Use the sign to direct people to your business.
- Hand out flyers. Take advantage of a well-trafficked location near your business. Attract more attention with a branded persona or costume.
- Use sandwich board advertising. Have someone walk around wearing your advertising to get attention. PR wizard Peter Shankman went job prospecting, walking around Manhattan with his résumé pasted on a sandwich board.
- Feed passersby. Offer samples if you’ve got a food related business.
- Give away samples. Let potential buyers test your products. Miss Babs does this at yarn festivals.
- Use out-of-home advertising and promotion. Tap into local media and signage to reach a targeted audience. This requires budget.
- Take advantage of special circumstances. Transform obstacles into free promotion. For example: get special signage on a sidewalk bridge or take advantage of re-routed foot traffic.
Overcome A Bad Small Business Location: Other Offline Tactics
Work with your peers, frenemies and not-for-profit organizations to cost-effectively stretch your resources.
- Exchange window space with other businesses. Cross-promote your business in a related but not competitive business. Expand your local reach and build relationships.
- Take advantage of another business’s location. Offer a demonstration, class or event in another store, business or not-for-profit organization.
- Get involved in local organizations. Become part of your local community including business associations. Work with other small businesses looking for ways to raise their profile.
- Participate in key local events. Where appropriate get involved in local activities to become known in the community since people do business with people they know.
- Create local events to drive foot traffic. With other local businesses, develop local events that attract buyers and media attention like Sidewalk Sales.
- Exchange flyers with other local businesses. Get other local businesses to place your flyers in their customer shopping bags to extend your reach.
- Ask non-competitive businesses to display your Take-Ones brochures. Understand that they may ask for some form of reciprocity.
Overcome A Bad Small Business Location: Live Events And Conference Tactics
As a small business, participate in local, regional and national events to build your reputation and connections.
- Support school and children’s or team activities. While this tactic may involve a financial investment, you get your business in front of parents.
- Join local organizations. Become part of the local business community. Members often refer other members.
- Attend local events. Be your own advertisement by being visible where your audience and business peers spend their time.
- Speak at local events. Where appropriate talk to local groups to gain visibility. To get your name out as a member of the community, speak at community colleges and religious groups.
- Work with local not-for-profits and religious groups. Help their audience while extending your visibility in a friendly way. Where possible ask for a mention in their newsletter or other media.
- Offer products or services for not-for-profit benefits and raffles. Use this opportunity to get your business promoted to a larger audience in return for the donation.
- Submit proposals to present at conferences. Give talks to raise your visibility, but keep them non-promotional.
- Attend regional and national conferences and events to increase visibility. Being present enables you to build a bigger network and makes your firm look larger than it is. Use this ultimate conference guide to drive business!
- Rent out your space during low business hours.
Overcome A Bad Small Business Location: Online Tactics
While online marketing can reduce the impact of a poor small business location, you still need a memorable, findable online location.
From a digital perspective, customer and end-user context matters. To ensure that your small business is findable, it must appears on a screen or respond to voice commands on connected devices when, where and how your prospects seek and need the information.
Overcome A Bad Small Business Location: Owned Online Media Tactics
- Have a website as an online home base. Ensure that it renders on a smartphone, computer and/or tablet. Include your phone number, hours and your physical location.
- Create a blog to provide useful content for your audience. It’s a great way to provide the content your prospects need.
- Develop an email house file of prospects, customers and end-users. Quality trumps quantity for a small business. Also consistent communications, not promotions, builds relationships with your audience.
- Tap into the power of photos. Set up an area of your retail location and encourage visitors to snap and share photos. Include your Instagram handle and URL.
- Put your small business in video. Use video to bring your business to potential buyers that are beyond your location.
Overcome A Bad Small Business Location: Social Media Tactics
Location and branding are key for a small business on social media. Like your URL, your social media handle must be available and recognizable. It’s a key element of your branding.
Consider this when you opt to select a non-dotcom URL. To help you better understand this, here’s a domain name guide.
- Use appropriate social media platforms. While social media drives traffic, branding and sales, it can be overwhelming, especially for a small business. Be selective in your social media use based on your audience.
- Keep your content and messaging visible on social media. Skip the once and done content. Share your content on a consistent basis.
- Reuse your content to make it contextually appealing on different social media platforms. Here are 100+ ways to reuse, repurpose and repromote content.
- Take advantage of under-utilized social media platforms like Pinterest.
- Tap into the power of long form content. Build a following or test a new direction on publishing platforms like LinkedIn Publishing and Medium.
- Experiment with niche focused social media platforms. For example, Ravelry supports its knitting and crocheting community.
- Republish your videos on YouTube to extend visibility. YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google.
- Participate in groups on different social media entities. It’s a great way to expand your network.
Overcome A Bad Small Business Location: Online Third Party Media Tactics
Unlike other forms of offline media, local media remains solid because it focuses on topics that its community cares about. Having worked for a local newspaper, I know that readers always check to see what’s going on with their friends and neighbors.
- Be findable on search across various devices including mobile, maps and voice. At a minimum, include your physical address and phone number.
- Check visibility on mobile apps such as Waze. Since these apps act like search engines and often have higher usage rates.
- Be present on non-traditional search engines. Depending on your business, consider sites like Amazon (includes advertising) and Apple (for iTunes).
- Get listed on local directories and apps. Be where your target audience seeks local businesses. This also applies to offline options. you.
- Tap into the power of rating and review sites. Be visible on platforms where prospects, especially those on-the-go, seek your type of business. Among the examples are Yelp, TripAdvisor and Open Table. Monitor activity and respond where appropriate.
- Write guest posts for niche and/or local blogs. Build your reputation as an expert in your field by writing quality posts. (BTW, here’s how to land guest blog posts (almost) every time!)
- Contribute a regular column to a local newspaper or newsletter. Your objective is to develop your reputation with their readership.
- Use PR to build relationships with local media (print, magazine, radio and television.) Start small by signing up and reading HARO (Help A Reporter Out). Respond when it makes sense for your business. Consistency matters.
- Cross-promote your business with another local business. Use your newsletter. But don’t spam readers! Instead create useful content.
The Overcome A Bad Small Business Location Conclusion
While a bad location hurts your ability to attract attention, drive traffic and yield profitability, hindering your ability to compete.
But sometimes you don’t have a choice due to factors beyond financial resources. For example, owners of prime real estate want well known companies in their buildings with an established business track record and good long term prospects.
To compensate, you must convert your bad small business location into a customer mecca by using a variety of these marketing tactics.
Before you object that you’ve got limited financial and human resources, do your homework as recommended above to determine where there are gaps and opportunities for your business.
Then use your perceived limitations to fuel your marketing creativity into cost-effective business and profit drivers.
With lower than desired resources, you have to organize your approach and tactics based on ease of execution and size of business result.
Remember location applies to more than just your physical and digital location. It extends to your position within your audience’s mind.
For your small business to gain traction in your audience’s mind, ensure that every element of your marketing is consistent.
Note: This article was originally published on September 19, 2014. It has been expanded and revised.
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