Anne Dhir runs Calin Bleu, a Scottish company selling stylish and comfortable baby slings. In this useful article she explains why online businesses need to think about local promotion.
With the internet bringing the entire world on your desk, it’s tempting to focus on big leads, national campaigns, being first on search engines… It’s a big world out there but there is one lesson I have learned over the last four years, it’s always nurture your local market.
I enjoy the challenge of promoting Calin Bleu and baby wearing in general locally, getting out there, talking to parents, sometimes you spend several hours talking to one customer for one item or for none! Other times, after one shopping appointment or dropping off leaflets in a café, I see a cluster of orders over the following months, all from the same area or even the same street. It is also a cost effective way of increasing sales. People love shopping from a local company and are happy to refer their friends and families to us.
It is an opportunity to stay closer to customers and learn a lot about our own products and how they are used. Recently I was helping her mum use her baby carrier. As I talked to her, I came up with a new way to explain how to get the wrap nice and snug for the little one, and it comes in very handy when I help a customer by phone or email.
The local market isn’t just local customers, think suppliers and partners! There is one product that we searched high and low for, internet, yellow pages, wholesaler directories to find it by chance driving through a business park. We also found our fulfilment company at a Small Business exhibition.
I always look forward to local networking events, especially women’s events. Managing your own business can be isolating, it’s nice to get out of the office and meet real people. In addition to great business contacts, I always leave re-energised. You never know who you’re going to meet and how they could help you in ways you hadn’t even contemplated. Recently, I had dinner with a group of dynamic business ladies, one of them turned out to have a background in sewing threads (our wraps have 10m of expensive thread!), another woman had recently launched a local magazine, another one gave me some tips on promoting our events and that was before we swapped seats for dessert!… I achieved more in one evening than the whole of the previous week.
I believe so strongly in nurturing your local market that I encourage our retailers to promote their local sales as well and support them in any way I can. We’re getting great response.
Get out there, its fun!
For more ideas on promoting your business locally, buy A Guide to Promoting Your Business.