Turn Your Bad Small Business Location Into An Asset
Location, location, location is the real estate catchphrase because it can be the make or break it decision for many business.
For small businesses a bad location is often one of many challenges they face due to budgets and priorities.
Unfortunately, being G.U., my father’s term for geographically undesirable, tends to hinder your small business’s profitability.
Prime real estate is pricey because it’s a key driver of foot traffic and sales. But an attractive physical location may not be affordable.
The good news: Marketing can transform your bad small business location into a winner. After all “place” is 1 of the 5 marketing Ps. (The other Ps are people, product, price and promotion.)
6 Tactics to improve a bad small business location
Here are 6 ways to improve your bad small business location by using marketing. The key to these recommendations is maximizing what you’ve got.
To get the most out of these 6 tactics, it’s important to have consistent small business branding.
- Maximize the power of your retail signage. Your small business sign is a key piece of marketing. Use it to direct prospects and customers to your front door. Don’t assume people will look for you. I worked with a local animal hospital that missed a big opportunity by not having any signs!!!
- Use your window as a customer magnet. Extend your product display to your front window. There’s reason people talk about “window shopping”. The product highlighted in your window must make people want to come in and buy it.
- Encourage your employees to promote your location. Provide employees with brightly colored totes and/or briefcases with your name and location on them. Another option is to give them branded shirts or jackets displaying your name and location.
- Leverage the visibility of your vehicle(s). Decorate your company vehicles to attract attention and promote your business. This is particularly important when making deliveries. Peter Shankman created a Yarnmobile to get customers out of New York City to a suburban knitting shop.
- Offer your customers portable signage. Provide customers with brightly colored shopping bags with your name and address. Even better make them reusable bags so customers continue using them. When you examine the costs, consider the incremental impressions.
- Give people a reason to find your small business. Many small groups look for a place to meet. Why not fulfill that need and get people into your store. It can be a book club or morning coffee club.
12 Offline marketing tactics to overcome a bad small business location
Extend reach to overcome your bad small business location using offline marketing tactics.
- Put a moveable sign in a more heavily trafficked location. If your store is in an obscure location, place a sign to direct people to your business. Of course, check that the sign is legal.
- Hand out flyers. Distribute paper flyers for your business on a well-trafficked corner near your business. If you’ve got a food related business, consider offering samples.
- Use old-fashioned sandwich board advertising. Have someone walk around with attention getting advertising. Enhance the impact with the use of flyers.
- Borrow other people’s windows. Work out a deal to cross-promote your business in a related but not competitive business.The beauty of this suggestion is that it helps you to expand your local reach and build relationships. Understand that you need to reciprocate.
- Take advantage of another business’s location. Put on a demonstration such as cooking or book reading in another store, business or not-for-profit organization. This doesn’t work for every business and may require some creativity. This suggestion can extend your reach longer distances.
- Get involved in local business organizations. Be part of your local community. Members tend to be other small businesses looking for ways to raise their profile. Consider ways to create local events as well as cross promotion.
- Support children’s groups (like sports teams and scouts). This may involve an investment to defray their costs. In return you get your name out in front of parents.
- Work with local not-for-profits. Consider how you can help their participants while getting your product and know-how out there in a friendly way. For example, a store that sells cooking supplies could teach a class at a church that feeds the homeless.
- Compose articles for local media. This is a traditional way to get people to know your name. It’s just applied to current media formats. Make sure that your name is associated with your company name and linked to your company website.
- Attend relevant events. Be your own advertisement. Get active where your audience and other business contacts are. Use this experience to get the word out and build relationships that support your business.
- Speak at local events. Where appropriate give a talk at local groups to gain visibility. It can be community colleges and religious groups. The goal is to get your name out as a member of the community.
- Use creative out-of-home advertising (where appropriate). Unlike the other suggestions, this requires budget. It’s useful if there’s a reason that it’s difficult to get to your business. In New York City, there are lots of sidewalk bridges. The businesses with resources put their signage on them.
7 Online marketing tactics to overcome a bad small business location
Another way to reduce the impact of a poor small business location is through the use of online marketing tactics.
The objective: Ensure that your business appears on a screen (computer, smartphone or tablet) when, where and how your prospects seek it. The increased use and consumption of digital media means that your business can cast a bigger shadow.
Think small business mobile marketing!!!
- Be findable on search. This includes mobile. At a minimum, include your address and phone number.
- Have a website. This is your home base online. Again, don’t underestimate the value of having a streamlined mobile website or using responsive design so that your information is available via mobile.
- Take advantage of local platforms. Be where and when your target audience is seeking you. The options you need depend on your business. Among the examples are Yelp, TripAdvisor and Open Table.
- Use appropriate social media platforms. While social media drives traffic, branding and sales, it can be overwhelming, especially for a small business. Be selective in your small business social media use – select platforms that reach your key audiences.
- Leverage the power of video. It’s the next best thing to being there. Create some low budget videos that show your product in action and set your retail location apart. Then post them on YouTube, the second biggest search engine, and your own website.
- Use PR. Many small businesses think big budget when it comes to PR. Start small. At a minimum, sign up and read HARO (Help A Reporter Out). Respond when it makes sense for your business. Consistency matters.
- Write guest posts for focused or local blogs. Get your name out there as an expert in your field by writing posts for category specific blogs.
There’s no doubt that a bad small business location hinders your profitability and competitiveness but sometimes you don’t have any choice.
Convert your bad small business location into a customer mecca by using a variety of these tactics.
Remember location applies to more than just your physical location. It also involves where your audience sees your marketing and content as well as the position you hold in their minds.
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