While the internet is a huge place that allows us to connect with audiences all over the world, we shouldn’t neglect our own backyards. It’s easy to focus your marketing strategy only online, however local marketing can go a long way toward preparing you for interviews, giving you media exposure, and helping you gain practical experience you can use to properly position yourself as a successful entrepreneur and product creator.
Here are four steps to reach your target market in your own backyard:
Secret #1: Contact local organizations
Find out what local organizations have upcoming events and offer to visit them and talk about your area of expertise. Locate organizations with members that are a good match for what you offer. For example, if you wrote a book that centers on a political topic then you may want to speak at a local politician’s fundraising event. If your product or service is more geared toward business owners, contact your local Chamber of Commerce to be a guest speaker at one of their meetings. Match your ideal target market to the type of local event before committing and wasting your time speaking to what might be the wrong audience. Here are a few places you can have a speaking appearance:
- Networking Events—Google and search Meetup.com for “networking events [your town]” and see what comes up. You may be surprised how many events are in your own backyard! Look at the organizations’ descriptions and websites, then choose one each month to attend and begin building relationships.
- Lunch & Learns—If your target market is people in Corporate America, contact large corporations in your city and ask them if they have a Lunch & Learn program. Most large corporations love the chance for a local expert to come share tips to their employees. This is an event where you would speak about your business for free, and potentially be allowed to sell products and market your services at the back of the room before and after you speak.
- Workshops—Build relationships with event planners and speakers through the local networking events you attend and let them know you’re available to conduct a workshop for their next event. You can also put together your own workshops and rent space in a hotel or business center, and I would recommend you get your feet wet presenting your workshop for other events before tackling all that’s involved with creating your own.
- Clubs—There are a lot of local clubs and organizations such as the Lions, Rotary, and Kiwanis clubs that regularly invite guests to come in and speak. Even though the speaking is unpaid, you’re usually welcome to bring and sell books to the audience, and it’s a good way to get practice speaking in front of a small group.
Secret #2: Write out a few speech ideas related to your business
Prepare a few talks that relate to the type of business you engage in that will further establish you as an expert in your field. You don’t have to write out an entire hour-long speech, just jot down an outline or two. Think about your mission and communicate it in your speech. My friend Felicia Slattery calls this your “Signature Speech™.” Create versions of this “Signature Speech™” that are anywhere from 30 seconds to an hour long and be prepared to deliver it in front of an audience.
Secret #3: Have samples available on-site
I call this “trunk-of-your-car” marketing. Always, always, always keep a box of product samples and new products to sell in the trunk of your car. You never know when you’re going to be somewhere and get into a discussion about what you do. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of books I’ve sold simply because I had them on-hand in the trunk of my car.
When you appear at a local event, you may be able to sell products directly to your target audience. If you’re a guest speaker and they like what you have to say, then they’re very likely to purchase.
Always find out how many people are going to attend the event and have enough product or service sign-up sheets on hand. You don’t want to run out of stuff and miss point-of-sale impulse buys.
Secret #4: Expand your reach
Once you’ve appeared at a few live events, you will be ready to expand your offline reach even further. In addition to seeking out more local events, start looking at what is happening throughout your state and region. Speaking at live events throughout the country is a great way to build your credibility as an expert in your field, and going on a regional tour and doing speaking gigs throughout your state can get you some additional media publicity and word-of-mouth sales.
The credibility and word-of-mouth marketing that will result from your reach’s expansion is priceless, so always remember the importance of an offline audience. Appearing at live events as a featured speaker, attending other local events and hanging out with other locals, and networking at business networking events will dramatically increase your sales. Be ready and prepare yourself—launching your product or service is merely the first step. Put on your thinking cap and consider the many ways both online and offline that you can market your business. The possibilities are endless!
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