Business names and locations are withheld to protect the privacy of the writer.

Today's Business Question:

Hi, Tom;
Just ran into your web site.
I have a small computer service, and in this economy we are struggling like hell to stay afloat.  I am trying to decide whether to stay in business or go get a job.

I like the concept of small town marketing.  However,  I am NOT in a small town, (Withheld),  with a population of 3 million.  But, I have always thought of myself as a “small town” kind of guy.  So my question is this:  can I take a small town approach in my town, with a population of about 50,000 in this greater metropolitan area?  Will any of your concepts translate, or do I need a “big city” approach?

Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Tom's Answer:

Excellent question. When I got the idea for small town marketing I was doing marketing consulting in San Diego. Some of my clients were "neighborhood" stores that didn't have to market to their entire area, just the people who lived within walking or short driving distance to their businesses.

Most big cites are made up of various sized neighborhoods. So here are some suggestions I would have for you.

1. Define your selling area. How far can you drive to service, install, maintain, or quote a client? Keep traffic in mind. It's not how far you can drive in ideal conditions with no traffic, think rush hours, construction, etc. Be realistic.

2. Where are your competitors advertising and how are they reaching their customers? Look at their web sites, yellow page ads, brochures, vehicles, etc. Let them do the leg work and make the mistakes before you test anything.

3. Build on customers you already have. Will they let you use them in your advertising as satisfied customers? Will they write you testimonials, or can you write the testimonials for them and just have them OK them?

4. If you use TV, upload your ads to YouTube and link to them from your web site. Use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Not to run promotions, but to provide valuable "how to's," prevent computer problems, or fix things, or neat, helpful web sites. You want people coming to your pages on a regular basis for your content.

5. Since the weather is always nice in (withheld) use your lunch hour to pass out business cards to all businesses within walking distance of your business. If you work from  your home, then walk the neighborhood on Saturdays. Everyone within walking distance of your home has a computer of some kind.

6. If you have a shop, give some evening classes on setting up your computer. Most of us load useless junk but are afraid to remove anything. Offer an introductory discount coupon for the first time they contact you.

7. Capitalize on the fact that you are their "neighborhood computer service," not a franchise or unfeeling big box store service department.

8. Your business card goes in all local bills every  time you pay them. The city, country, may need a quote on their stuff.

9. Join groups with business owners. Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary etc. Visit them and get to know the members. These are the people who will recommend you to their friends and neighbors.

10. Join your local chamber of commerce. It shows you have a vested interest in the community and give back. Their sign in your window can give first time customers a since of confidence.

11. If you have a storefront, with new or used computers, place framed testimonials around the store. As people are browsing they are also reading testimonials from satisfied customers.

This should get you started,
Any other questions please feel free to shoot me another email,
Best of Luck,

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