Too many times we, as business owners, are consumed with the idea of gaining statewide or even national exposure before we've even become a household name in our local communities. These are some ways that you can spark a conversation, engage your neighboring businesses, become a hero to your neck of the woods, and ultimately conquer your local market.
Research the Market
Out of the gate, we niched our company on WordPress. After a little market research, we found that in San Antonio back in 2008 there really wasn't any firm of substance in the community advertising for WordPress development. We jumped on it, and though it took a few years, our strategy has lead us to become a major player in our tech community – and we're still a small family-owned company.
You can begin your process to total domination by simply sparking a conversation. We started by attending local business chamber meetings and asking small business owners what their needs were. These conversations were market research for us to see what type of services we should even be focused on providing. However – these contacts quickly turned into clients and referrals. Even if you're in a small town without a chamber – look for ways to go to your direct consumer and engage them in such a way that you're listening and preparing to provide those answers.
After you've gathered a few business names and contacts – invite them to a free resource session where you're offering free advice, direction and insight on how they can improve their marketing – online and offline too. Give them something for free and establish your authority on the topics you're discussing. This allows you to be engaging to your neighboring businesses in a way that is not aggressive and even more so welcomed. Be cautious though – when we held these types of events they very quickly went from a handful of businesses to a theatre full. If you share honest direction and advice with them, they'll trust you and hire you.
Becoming a hero in your neck of the woods is the fun part to all of this. Start a WordPress MeetUp group. If there's one already rolling in your area, become a consistent instructor at it. Launch a kids' track and teach the next generation of WP entrepreneurs. Volunteer at a nearby WordCamp. When you give back to WordPress and to your community by offering in-person support for WP users – you're an instant hit and folks will spread your name like wildfire.
Get out there
It doesn't take a radio ad budget or a monthly PPC campaign for folks to hear about you and talk about you. It takes meeting people's needs with honesty, efficiency and consistency. Don't lock yourself away in your office or home waiting for the phone to ring. Get out in your community and start a conversation, meet a need, donate time and watch what some good Karma might bring back your way. You'll find more and more people saying – “Oh yeah – I've heard of you,” and your reputation will open the path to conquering the hearts of your immediate network.