Start Local and Build Your Business

by Des Menz posted in Get Exposure

Early Marketing Decisions Will Reap Rewards

In this article --> Other Places Where To Market Your Business - I wrote about searching for offline sources in local marketing. I made some discoveries that surprised me, and they were all about using telephone directories to extend my online presence. 

All too often, we can be lulled into forgetting about the most obvious market for our products and services - the LOCAL market.

In this article

  • What is meant by "Local"?
  • Why the local market should be your first preference
  • A local knowledge example
  • Cross-Pollinate Your Web Properties

What Is "Local"?

You might find a lot of different opinions about whether it's better to start a site that's focused on a local area or one that is a niche site. There can be some overlap between the two, but let's call a "niche site" one that focuses on a particular interest and is not limited by location - i.e. locality.

By comparison, a "local site" is defined by the location of the users and only then by the interests that are served. I'll come to my latest local site a little later, and that will illustrate what is meant by "local".

Let's be clear. We're not referring to demographic audiences in terms of identifying local marketing. You may have a product or service that can gather what I refer to as "initial critical mass", in a short time, using local marketing methods. But the key issue that must be identified is when you need to reach out beyond the location of your user/customer/subscriber to increase the critical mass for business sustainability and success.

Operating a local website in parallel with another broad-based site, can yield some important advantages. I've explained this aspect a little later also. Maybe you've worked it out already.

The other side of "local" is your own region, whether that's in a city or a rural area, your state or your country … or all of these. 

Your local site could target any one of these, and then grow outwards.

Why the local market should be your first preference

Let's now say you have an online business property (your website) that you've just started. If we are to follow the "local" route, the first choice to target in the early period of establishment should be the location of your potential users (your market). 

What you need to do is look at what you're offering and make a decision about how you're going to begin your marketing.

That doesn't mean to say we should ignore social media; quite the contrary. Look at how social networks - which really are a form of Word-Of-Mouth exposure - have penetrated far away places, small towns, and isolated communities. This is an example of the potential market at any online operator's fingertips. Note I said "potential".

It's not so easy and simple to grab a slice of the action on the opposite side of the world. And that is the biggest hurdle with an ONLINE business - people on other continents know nothing about you. And that's understandable, because it all comes down to trust. 

Your customers need to know who they're buying from, but more than that, they need to trust you and your product or service. 

The world is very connected today, but if you think about how you would ever be able to sell your product or service to an unknowing market, then there are possibly only two courses of action.

   Narrow your focus to a market you know more about, or ...

   Get on a learning and action path that will require your total attention so that you can get to a global audience.

If you have a product or service that is directed to a local market, then your answer has already been made for you.  

A Local Knowledge Example

Firstly a quick recap. I've had an offline business since 1989. Because of the nature of that business I rarely advertised because I focused on the LOCAL MARKET. When I began my business as a one-man band, I realised I had to get the trust of locals because without it, I would only have a shell of a business. In those early years there was no internet, so the best form of marketing for me was Word-Of-Mouth.

Now, what was that offline business I started? Consulting engineering.

Even back then as a rural-based consultant I diversified into a number of allied areas - building design, construction, specialist building materials distribution, environmental management, planning, development investigations … and more.

I was very busy. My services were in demand because there was no-one else providing these at the LOCAL level. After a number of years I moved back to my home state, and started all over again. It was tough. There was a much smaller market and fewer people for my services.

And that taught me a lesson. For a sole-operator professional business such as mine there had to be a certain critical mass to sustain it. This is the same, in a sense, for an online business.

Except there's a big difference. The number of people (i.e. buyers) needed to sustain an offline business is much smaller than for an online business. 

Think about that for a moment. How many times have you read about "Building A List"? We are told that without a list of subscribers to your online business, you have next to nothing. No business at all. There are so many references to lists of 10,000 subscribers, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 … that it is just hogwash. These are huge figures that are tossed around like confetti in the wind. Don't get sucked in by that silly mantra.

A successful small online business can get by with a few hundred subscribers, but even getting that many will take a huge effort.

Now compare that with an offline business. Here's my experience. It took me 25 years to accumulate about 1400 clients; sure, there was repeat business, but overall most of my clients were seeking single solutions. 

Many small businesses only need a hundred or less customers to create local critical mass, and the reason why is all about the product or service on offer and the trust that is built up over a period of time.

When I transferred my business back to my home state, I managed to get by financially, but I had to travel extensive distances for work. One day during a quiet period of work, I prompted myself to think about doing things differently. I knew I had to change, otherwise I'd be of no use anywhere.

That's why in recent years I've transitioned to an online business model … mostly. I still do offline consulting work, but that has taken a lesser role with the establishment of my latest site 


THIS IS A LOCAL WEBSITE where I am offering solutions from much of my professional work. The site is still a work-in-progress but I thought I'd reveal it to you as an illustration about transitioning content to the web and focusing on your local market.

I'll also be using this offline method to get greater exposure. I recommend you do the same.

Cross-Pollinate Your Web Properties

You might think what has all this got to do with getting ahead in a home business? After all, this article is mainly about LOCAL MARKETING.

There are two reasons.

Have a look at the header above in this website.

NEW TIMES HOME BIZ - Creative Ideas … Rewarding Results - Where Your Knowledge Becomes Your Business

That is the foundation of myEngineerOnline

Making my knowledge my business, doing things differently, never staying static, and using good tools to achieve my online objectives.

My expectations for myEngineerOnline are to build a local base and use local marketing sources to build business inertia.

Notice how I've now linked to myEngineerOnline from New Times Home Biz.

The second reason is to demonstrate that you have it in you to build a local web business. And perhaps it should be a primary goal.

Take what you know and turn it into a profitable and useful enterprise. Write … Market … Sell

Did you find this article useful? Have a question? Wish to make a comment?  Do it below …

You won't regret it.

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