Marketing for Small Local Businesses

Hugh McLeod I was talking to a friend who runs a mobile massage business. She takes her table to you, does the work at your office or home or wherever. It’s great for people who maybe can’t leave the office, but could spare the extra hour within the day, or who could benefit from having a massage at home after a long day. Might be great for stay-at-home parents, too. We were talking about marketing, and what she’d done so far to get herself more business.

First, understand that the best clients for this kind of business are local-ish, have some discretionary money, and are hopefully shooting for being a repeat customer (that would work best for her business).

It’s not a simple transaction business. It requires loyalty. To that end, here are my ideas for marketing a business like hers.

Search and Listen

My first effort would be to find local prospects. I’d start with Google Blogsearch, putting in local town names, to see who’s blogging in the area. I’d use Twitter Search to find some more folks. I’d look around for other sources, like local online newspapers. You can even do some clever google work. Once I had a decent list, I’d start determining who, if any of them, are actually prospects. Just because they’re local doesn’t mean they fit the other criteria. Break the list down a bit more from there.

Promotion

You need a home base. I’d recommend a blog, but even a static website is better than nothing. Then, I’d see whether or not you can get listings with any other local businesses, any local groups related to the field, possibly even the Chamber of Commerce.

Make your site a combination of explanations of your business and the value you provide, as well as a chance to get to know a bit more about you. Personalized businesses like this, especially a body works business like massage means that people want to know more about you, want to get a sense of who you are, and want to understand what matters to you.

If you’ve got a blog, consider doing video so that people can see even more about you. It’s a great way to add some promotional oomph.

From here, you might start reaching out into outposts. Facebook might be a tricky place to pick up business when starting. It’s not like a bunch of people will rush in and join the massage company fan page. That said, you can always try. Twitter might work better, insofar as people speak more openly there, there’s serendipity, there are more chances to find new people without “friending” first.

What do you do once you’re there?

I’d recommend talking about them. Them= whoever you’ve found at these outposts, the people you’ve found via these lists. As for WHAT to talk about, talk about what they’re into. Get to know them. It’s an important part of building relationships, to be there long ahead of the sale.

Newsletter

What might also work is an email newsletter, talking about other health and wellness tips, but also with a few subtle offerings from your organization. I mean subtle, too. Make it more about equipping them for success and much less about finding clients immediately. It will be a slower build, but you’ll have a better chance to build a community you can tap into when needed over time.

Sales

From here, you can work on conversions and sales. My friend who runs the massage business did a promotional event at a local arena. I think there’s an opportunity to do a few more gigs like that, even maybe calling around for corporations to offer two hour blocks of time for 10 minute chair massages (so 12 massages) at a rate of $300 (so close to the $150 an hour that a quality massage therapist gets). This is also a great lead generator for future business, so bring business cards.

Obviously, this step would be different for different types of businesses, but realizing that some kind of demo, promo, introductory offer is always a great way to seed future opportunities is the first step.

What Else?

I’ve given out a few steps, a few ideas, especially aiming towards social media and the like. What else would you tell someone looking to promote their massage therapy or similar business? How have you handled the challenge? What matters to you if you were the prospective client?

By the way, this kind of stuff is exactly what I cover in my new book, Social Media 101, should you be interested.

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