Dance With Potential New Customers
Sit down with a coffee and have a really hard think on this one. Your obvious audience may be customers in the surrounding villages, but often it is possible to cast the net further to explore new ideas. If, for example, you create unique Scottish craft items then your audience is potentially much greater, with a global audience searching online for Scottish products.
Perhaps a local café or pub could attract a greater share of the tourist market? One entrepreneurial local rural pub/café has tapped into the boom in motorhomes and campervans, offering overnight stays in their large car park in exchange for the custom.
Once you define your potential audience, it is easier to work out a strategy that helps your business to attract and connect with those potential customers via your website, social media and any advertising. Have a look online at other successful companies that have a similar business – what strategies are they using?
That said, it pays to sometimes buck the trend. Perhaps you are a florist or a bistro owner, and Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Why not drop your prices instead of increasing them, or create a 2 for 1 special offer, to encourage a stampede of new customers who not only smell a bargain, but also think you are kind of cool for embracing the spirit of the romantic date.
Embrace The Digital Age
If Google cannot find you, your business only exists to a tiny local audience. Paper advertising just won’t cut it. Going digital has never been easier (and isn’t very complicated, honestly), and it’s where you will link with potential new customers. For any rural business to reach a wider audience, it needs to be found online, with one-click, by the people searching for products, places and services within the area.
Setting up a basic website is fairly easy if you can find your way around a computer (try Go Daddy, Wix or WordPress), and they have fantastic business-specific templates for free – just drop the text in. Honestly, most small businesses can do this themselves, and the internet is awash with ‘how to’ aricles and videos to help you along the way. Great written content is important and, if that’s not what you are good at, perhaps pay to have professionally written content, as badly written web pages with poor spelling and grammar won’t sell your business.
If you really don’t want a website, ensure you list the business within a local digital Business Directory which will effectively give you a free web page and an effective Google presence. At the very least, ensure you have a Facebook Business Page set up so that your business exists online.
Tap Into Resources That Can Help
Business Gateway is a fantastic resource for rural Scottish businesses. Their website has links to free events, workshops and downloads that offer advice and guidance on everything from social media marketing to tax returns. Importantly, there are regular courses within the rural community which are free and cover a plethora of useful subjects including the use of Facebook and Twitter for advertising, finance, planning and employment.
A meeting with Business Gateway can help identify where your business can improve and source any help available to you. There are many local rural businesses that have enjoyed extensive practical help, financial assistance and mentoring to achieve their business goals.
DigitalBoost is delivered by Business Gateway in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterpriseon behalf of Digital Scotland. DigitalBoost is designed to help Scottish businesses:1.Understand the benefits of using Digital Technologies2.Introduce, or improve their use of, Digital Technologies to help grow their businessDigital Boost will deliver a digital ‘Health Check’ for your business. This will gauge your strengths andopportunities, and recommend services we can offer to help
Social media is an integral part of modern business interaction, so it makes sense to embrace a platform where you can engage with potential new clients. Each platform serves a slightly different function, so pick the one most likely to be used by your customers. Social media can be time consuming if you are to keep a page active and interesting. For that reason I suggest sticking to one, maybe two, social media platforms initally.
Facebook is a great all-round platform, and is used by a great many people, and Twitter allows an easy reach to other companies and businesses you might want to engage with. Good all-rounders as a starting place.
LinkedIn is a great networking site, and works particularly well in business-to-business, where you might want to make contact with CEO’s from other companies that you wish to engage with. It’s not really such a worthwhile platfrom for tradesmen or cafe owners, for example.
Instagram is all about visuals, so if you create something of beauty – be it crafts, homeware, art, restaurant food, cakes etc – then take some great shots, add a few filters and clever layouts (there are Apps for everything), and showcase your products to the world.
Local networking is also a great idea, and there are many local business networking groups. The Business Blether is a rural networking group that meets monthly in Killearn. These are informal and friendly (with much tea and cake), but give an opportunity to meet other local businesses and start-ups.
Let’s network | Stirling provides a platform for businesses and business owners to network with the Stirling business community.
Only £5.00 per head entry, payable at the door.
Our events are informal and relaxed. Simply grab a tea/coffee and start networking!
It’s amazing how the businesses pool their experience, and offer their advice and recommendations based on experience. Sometimes you are lucky and have a business service or product on offer that another business needs. Nothing beats meeting people in person, and it’s good to introduce your business to the local business community. They might pass on your details to someone else, even if you don’t make a business connection at the event itself.
Will Advertising Get Me Noticed?
Outwith personal recommendations, nearly every potential new customer will find your business online. It’s the modern way to advertise, and that might mean changing the way that you think about advertising your business.
Paper advertising tends to be expensive, with even a small business card sized ad costing more than digital advertising. It also limits the information you can convey about your business and, of course, people cannot click through to your business.
How do you personally find a business, product, service or opening time? Using good old Google I’d guess.
Register your business with Google Directory to ensure is shows up on every search, and listing your business with a quality Local Business Directory (we are biased, but not without good reason) will make a huge difference to your website rankings and the ease with which your business is found.
Note that a good and effective business directory does more than put your business on a free list. A good directory will have ever-changing and quality articles to compliment the listing, and actively engage across the social media platforms.
Imagine Linked Magazine as one huge melting pot of quality SEO – think of all the local search keywords contained within the entire magazine via local articles and business listings – village names, popular tourist search phrases, locations, film, TV, products, designers, trades, events, pubs, restaurants, local walks – it acts like a magnet for search engines as it has changing content and is oozing with the search terms that potential customers looking for products and services in the area are using.
Basically, a local business directory will link the local businesses with customers already searching online for products and services in the area. Find out more about listing within our Business Directory
Take a Business Gateway workshop that shows you how to make best use of Facebook and Twitter as advertising tools and, if you have a website and an interesting business, write blog posts to engage your audience. The SEO and changing content will also help your website ratings.
Do your own advertising via sponsoring local events, wearing a t-shirt with your own logo and brand image when out climbing that hill and perhaps offering competitions via Facebook to win something your company can offer. This is also a great way to boost your business profile locally and hike-up your ‘Page Likes’ on Facebook.
Offer Advice and Know-How
Your website will allow you to publish ‘posts’, and these can be shared to Facebook, Twitter and your social media sites. They are the tools that can really give you leverage on social media when you share. If people feel they are getting ‘value’, they are more likely to like and share the post.
Use free video channels like YouTube and Vimeo to create videos that showcase what you can do and reinforce your role as an expert. ‘How To’ tutorials are always popular. Give snippets, but don’t divulge every nuggest of knowledge and expertise – just give a taster of what you can do.
If your business doesn’t fit with this idea, try to write regular blog posts that keep customers engaged with the company, and informed on what’s happening. Keep it interesting – nobody wants to know what Bob had for his lunch.
Buddy With Other Local Businesses
Small rural businesses can really help each other out by pooling their resources and having combined offers and events. This means that businesses can come together and share in any cost for publicity or online advertising and promotions. A symbiotic relationship – if a cafe is particularly quiet on a midweek morning, why not come together to host an event or workshop (e.g. Christmas wreath making).
Be generous and ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ posts from other local businesses on social media, and encourage a cooperative approach. Recommend local businesses, and before long they will be doing the same for you. Pull together.
We are a friendly local enterprise, and would be delighted to welcome all businesses serving Stirlingshire, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs area.