15 (or so) Ways to Gain Success from Your Local Marketing Efforts
Okay, so you’re ready to take on the world. You’ve opened your window film business, put out your shingle, and … (crickets). Or, you’ve had a window film business for some time, but business just seems to have plateaued. Worse yet, maybe business has simply slowed down to an uncomfortable level. There is a solution for this. It’s called local marketing.
Basically, if your business exists invisibly—that is, you’re doing nothing to draw attention to yourself—you will be invisible, and few customers will coming calling. So, you have a choice. You can view marketing as a necessary evil to keep your doors open, or if done right, you can embrace it as an investment in growing your business into a sustainable and ultimately flourishing enterprise.
Fact is, it’s a noisy world out there, and to get noticed by potential window film customers, you have to contribute to the racket.
Marketing boils down to this:
Deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time.
It may sound simple but it does require a little mental elbow grease. Done right, marketing enhances your sales-making ability and helps customers start finding their way to you.
Sure, it would be nice to have some splashy television campaigns, huge billboards, full-page newspaper ads (yes, they still make those), but unless you’re a big operation with multiple locations and a fleet of installers ready to canvas the market at a moment’s notice, you may not have the budget (or stomach) for that sort of spending. You, more likely, fall into the word-of-mouth camp—aka referrals—and there’s nothing wrong with that. Great businesses are built on solid reputations. Your job is to nurture relationships in your community to encourage word-of-mouth.
Here are some thoughts on how.
Give Back to the Community
Wait a sec. We thought you were going to tell us how to get customers to call us? Well, here’s the thing. You can sit behind a desk, hoping the phone rings, or better yet, get out in the community. Be visible and contribute. Volunteer, sponsor a little league or soccer team, or even serve on an event committee for a local charity. That’s how you meet and engage with influential people who over time can turn into customers—or perhaps help you meet potential customers.
Partner with Local Businesses
Do you know any general (or sub) contractors who may be able to refer business your way? How about a local window manufacturer? Or car dealers? Carpet installers? Roofers? Pest control companies? See a trend here? Really any trade that services people at home, at commercial properties, or in the automotive industry represents a potential opportunity. Air conditioning repair? There’s a natural fit. Imagine teaming up your window film offerings with an air conditioning service to help people save on home and office energy costs.
Oh, and that give-back thing we talked about previously. Be prepared to recommend your contacts to your customers as well. It’s about helping each other. Just be sure you have complete trust in their ability to deliver high customer satisfaction, just like you do, or it could come back to haunt you.
Speaking of Reaching Out
If you haven’t joined LinkedIn, seriously consider doing so. We’ll leave it to the countless posts about using LinkedIn for business networking, but once you do, you may find a goldmine of opportunities out there. Just don’t use it as a spam machine or you’ll turn people off in no time. Here are some thoughts on how to promote your business through LinkedIn.
Get Your Staff in on the Referral Game
Formal finder’s fee programs can quickly get complicated. Perhaps start off slow. Casually mention in a team meeting that you (and your company) would appreciate any referrals your team may run across. If a staff member provides a lead that turns into new business, surprise that team member with a finder’s fee. Keep it casual. But know as your business grows, there may come a time you need to formalize a finder’s fee program. Especially if you begin offering finder’s fees to people outside of your company.
Google My Business (Free)
Google is the 800-pound search Gorilla. You’re going to want to make sure your local listings are accurate so people can find you. Google My Business is a free service where you can add your address, contact information, photos, hours of operation, and such, so when people search for you on Google, they can find your business on a map and contact you with the greatest of ease. Here’s an article about how to set up yours.
No physical address? No problem. Recent updates to Google My Business make it easier for people to list Service Areas rather than a physical office, which is especially exciting for window film dealers who provide all their service working out of a vehicle.
More than Just Google
There are other local listing services out there to boost your online presence, including Yelp, YP, Yahoo Local, and Bing Places. Also consider listing yourself on Angie’s List and Home Advisor.
Social Media is Everywhere
Love it or hate it, having a strong social media presence is a great way to reach customers. Post pictures of your handy work and images that show off your company culture. Creating a Facebook page (if you don’t already have one) is a great place to start. Instagram is another channel you should consider, too.
Here’s a strong suggestion: If you’re going to use social media, commit to it with at least 2 or 3 posts a week. Nothing looks worse than an inactive social media account, and on the other side of the coin, don’t post too often either. That can turn people off.
As extra credit, try geo-tagging on Instagram to help your customers know where you are.
As a business owner, there’s a possibility you won’t be interested in handling this or you won’t have time. If that’s the case, find someone in your organization who loves to do social media and empower that person to lead the effort.
Network in the Real World
Social Media is a fairly easy way to network, but nothing beats the real face-to-face meetings you experience at a networking event. You may be getting email invites to them already. Dive in and see what you think.
Attending industry-related trade shows and conferences are places to find business as well. And you don’t necessarily have to be an exhibitor. Just attend and strike up conversations wherever you can to see where they may lead.
Offer Free Consultations
Even if you already offer free consultations as part of your normal sales process, advertise that fact to lower the barrier to getting in front of a potential customer. Then be prepared to wow them with your expertise.
Advertise in Print
Most successful marketing involves more than one channel. Sure you want to have online efforts covered, but let’s not forget advertising in your local newspaper. The publication should be able to steer you in terms of timing your ad run and where it will appear in the paper.
Direct marketing by sending postcards to nearby addresses, or through services such as Valpak, is a popular way to get your message in the hands of homeowners.
Creative Ad Spaces
Find creative ways to create buzz with your advertising. Sometimes reaching people in unexpected ways is just what you need to stick in people’s mind.
Are you working on a property in your city or town that has newsworthy significance? Contact your local newspaper or TV station to see if either will do a story on your efforts.
Create a Link for Customers to Leave Reviews on Google
Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews from customers who’ve had a positive experience. Google makes it easy for you to enable these reviews. Here’s how.
Market at Community Events
Exhibiting at local community events is a great way to get in front of potential customers, but there is a lot to consider before you make the plunge.
Email campaigns are as much a science as they are art. There is a lot to consider. Who will be your target? Is your customer list up-to-date and accurate? What will be your message? How will you design the emails? When will you send them out and how often? Will everyone get the same message or will you segment based on geography, demographics, etc.? When is it time to remove people from your email lists? Should you utilize emails after a project is over to solicit testimonials? How do you build an email list? How do you avoid being considered spam?
If you’re serious about wanting to try email campaigns, here’s an excellent resource to get your feet wet. It’s entirely possible (if not probable) this may prove to be more than you want to deal with, but rather than give up on the idea of launching email campaigns, consider Googling to find experts on email marketing in your area. Done correctly, email marketing can be very successful at building your local business.
There’s No Time Like the Present
This article’s purpose was to give you a head start on the types of things you could be doing to grow your window film business. To find more, Google the phrase “local marketing ideas for small business.” You’re sure to find a lot to read about.
If you want to find out even more, Google “guerrilla marketing ideas for small businesses,” where you’ll find out some more of the offbeat ideas people use to gain attention (and sales) for their respective businesses. Good luck!