9 ways to find more business in your local area

HIA Industry Update

Last month, a first time entrant into the HIA Hunter Regional Housing Awards, Construct Central Coast, took out our industries top accolade winning the HIA-CSR Australian Home of the Year at the 2018 HIA-CSR Australian Housing Awards.

This year’s award winners were announced before hundreds of industry leaders at the final night of the 2018 HIA National Conference in Singapore. Construct Central Coast were first time entrants into the HIA-CSR Housing Awards and were thrilled to take out the top award, along with Custom Built Home as well. The winning project is a great example of what is possible when passion, superb workmanship and meticulous design is combined.

As a result of their success Construct Central Coast, along with the many other award winners and finalists from around the country now face a positive dilemma.  How do they market their business locally to take advantage of their national success?

Successful marketing always capitalises on a business’s point of difference. As a small business owner, perhaps you struggle to compete with bigger competitors.

However, many consumers actually prefer to deal with a smaller, locally owned business. They feel they’ll receive a more personalised service from someone who understands them better, and often people are keen to support local business and keep their neighbourhood prosperous.

So why not leverage ‘small and local’ as your point of difference, and give yourself the edge over the big competition? Here are a few strategies for effective local area marketing.

Make sure your business is on Google My Business – it’s FREE!

‘My Business’ is the replacement service for Google Places for Business. The information you provide about your business can appear on Google Search, Maps and Google+.

Google My Business isn’t just for traditional businesses with a storefront. You can also sign up and instead of listing your business address, add the area you serve or just details of your brand. Whether you want to create your listing with a storefront location or just a service area, the first step is to create a business listing. You can then choose not to display your physical address if that information doesn’t need to be made public. The results will appear on mobile devices as well as computers.

Be where local people look

Google isn’t the only place to list a local business. Make sure you’re visible in all the places people are likely to look when searching for your product or service:

  • in the classifieds of your local newspaper;
  • online business directories with locality search functions such as HIA Tradebuild, Hipages and True Local; or
  • register with any local business directories that may exist for your area.

Develop network partnerships and customer referral programs

Teaming up with other small businesses in your area is a simple way to build referrals. You can double your exposure to a new group of customers for almost zero cost. If you’re an electrician, for example, you could set up a referral discount arrangement with the local lighting store.

Build word of mouth with customer referrals

Rewarding customers who send new business your way can be extremely effective. Word of mouth recommendations are one of the most powerful forms of marketing, and a referral program can actively encourage your customers to spread the word about your business. It’s also a good idea to encourage customers to leave positive feedback about you on your preferred trade listing website.

Supporting your local community is a marketing opportunity

Plenty of businesses offer support to community groups but then fail to tell their customers about it. Promoting your involvement with and support of local community groups strengthens your brand and positions you as caring and trustworthy. It also adds more opportunities for exposure, such as your logo on the local sport teams’ signage, mentions in local press articles about the charity day you’re supporting, etc.

If you sponsor a local sporting team, charity, interest group or community event, capitalise on your investment and actively demonstrate how you are an active participant in your customers’ community.

Apply for local business awards

Even if you don’t pick up an award, award competitions, such as those run by HIA are often widely promoted by the organiser. Simply being an award nominee can mean getting your business name in the local paper – often several times – for the cost of an entry fee. Award presentation functions also provide a good opportunity to network with like-minded business owners and potential customers in your area.

Signage and branding

Every time someone sees your name and logo, this helps to reinforce their awareness of your brand. So become a visible presence around your neighbourhood: distinctive vehicle signage is a great way to achieve this; depending on how much you drive around people might see your name and logo several times a week. And always display signage at your worksites – not only will passing traffic see it, but it demonstrates that you’re actively working in the local area, which adds to your credibility. Of course if you are a member of an association like HIA, don’t forget to add their member logo too.

Become the local ‘expert’

Consider offering to write a regular column in your suburban newspaper for instance. Just be sure you have something to say that is newsworthy and relevant to your market, while showcasing your skill as a local expert. Look for local community websites that you can submit guest blogs to, or even join in the conversation on forums. This is a great way to get quality links and gain exposure locally.

Social media

Even when you’re thinking local, social media needs to form part of your marketing activity. Follow other local businesses on Twitter and Instagram, and regularly feature posts that would be of interest to people living in your neighbourhood.

On Facebook, search for local groups and introduce yourself and your business in these pages. Don’t forget to geographically target your posts and consider including special offers such as exclusive discounts for your followers.

These are only a few of the many ways to successfully market your business. For more information HIA members can call 1300 650 620, email bis@hia.com.au or visit https://hia.com.au/business-information and visit the managing your business & employees page to view our small business information series guides and fact sheets.

 

Craig Jennion
HIA Executive Director – Hunter