If you have an idea for a business, testing the market is an important step. Making a few products and selling them locally is a great way to find out if there is some demand for that product and provides you with the chance to get feedback from people about how to improve your product.
When you go into business, it is wise to start on a small scale first. That way you can learn the ropes and work out important details like how long the manufacturing process takes.
This will help you to plan out your time and to work out how much product you can realistically make while juggling everything else you have to do. At first, time constraints are going to dictate how big your business can be. Once you make enough money you will be able to outsource some work or employ someone, but to start with you are going to have to do everything yourself, so it makes sense to start out on a local level.
Here are some ways you can market your products and business on a local scale.
First, let’s look at how to do local advertising. Every business can benefit from advertising and there are still a lot of places where you can post an advert without having to pay a lot to do so. Here are the main ones:
Local newsletters and magazines
The trade directories of local organisations
Listing yourself on the Chamber of Commerce directory
Handing out leaflets or leaving flyers in waiting rooms
Post on local notice boards
Naturally, your budget will have an impact on which of them you use. The kind of product you are selling is also a consideration, but most products can be advertised using the above methods.
All of the above marketing techniques are tried and tested. They still work really well in the modern world. However, it is now also possible to advertise locally on the web.
Online local advertising
Even if you do not have a website, you can still get yourself listed online. Here are some of the best ways to do this.
Get yourself listed by Google using their Google local service
Add your contact details to local trade directories
Add your business details to your local Chamber of Commerce website
List yourself in as many of the free business directories as possible
See our section about social media too
Wherever you live, you will be living near other people who have successfully built their business up from scratch. These other local businesswomen and men are a great source of information and advice.
People want others in their town to succeed. It is good for everyone, so many will help you a great deal providing practical help as well as advice.
If there are any local business groups consider joining them. Whenever you can get involved with your local community and help out when you can. Doing so will allow you to build strong relationships with those around you, which will help you in the long run.
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there.
Sponsor Local Events
Sponsoring a local event or contributing some of your products to a local event is a great way to build your brand and reputation. Again, whether you can do this depends on your budget, but this kind of local advertising is far cheaper than many people realise, so at least look into the idea.
Give Away Samples at Local Events
If you can afford to do so, consider giving out a few free or low cost samples at local events. You need to make sure that the kind of people you want to sell to are attending the event and give your products to them. This is because you want them to actually use your product and come back to you for more.
Selling Your Products Locally
To be successful you need to get your products out there and into the hands of actual customers. Selling locally has the added advantage of not swallowing up too much of your time. It cuts your travel time to a minimum, which saves you money as well as time.
Here are some ideas of places you could sell your products:
Consider holding an open house. You can either just invite your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues or hand out flyers in the locale.
This is a great way to get live feedback about what people think of your product especially if people you do not know comment. Their feedback is more likely to be honest than that from friends and family who will often not be too critical to spare your feelings.
Local Fairs and Fetes
Local events like fairs and street parties present a great chance to sell your products. Often stalls are provided and it costs either nothing or very little to get one.
Take the time to have some banners printed to hang along the edge of your stall. It looks great, helps with your branding and the banners can be rolled up and used for other events.
Local Markets and Car Boot Sales
It usually costs a bit more to sell at local market, so make sure the kind of people who want or like your product. If one market does not work, try the one in the next town or area.
Car boot sales are also an option. This is usually cheaper than a market and they tend not to last as long, so take up less of your time.
Using Social Media
We know this page is all about local marketing, so you may be surprised to see social media on the list because your social media pages will be seen nationally or internationally. This is true and is a great plus, but if you want to market effectively at a local level you need a Facebook page and Twitter feed at the least.
Many people in your locale will subscribe to them both and like you. This will improve the chances of those pages being found by others from further afield.
Bear in mind that many local firms and organisations have their own social media pages. Exchanging details with them is a fast way to fill up your page and get the word out about you and your products.
Fast and Easy to do
That may seem like a long list and look a bit daunting, but don’t be put off. Most of the techniques are fast to implement. For example, posting your details on directories takes five minutes.This means you can do it between the school run and taking your youngest to their dance class.