Are You Missing Out on Prime Local Opportunities to Market Your Business?

If you rely solely on online marketing tactics, you’re not taking advantage of some effective ways of catching the eye of new customers

Are You Missing Out on Prime Local Opportunities to Market Your Business?

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill

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As digital marketers, we often get questions about, well, digital marketing. But we often see companies relying on nothing but online marketing and thus missing some opportunities that are right under their noses in their home markets.

Easy local win for businesses

One of the easiest ways to bring in new business locally is to find a networking group. There are several you can look for including Gold Star, BNI (Business Networking International), The BRE (Business Network Exchange), 4Networking, and the good, old chamber of commerce. All of these are great places to meet people who live and work in the areas you serve.

The other thing to know about chambers of commerce is that many smaller towns around a larger metro area have chambers that you can join and they tend to be less expensive than the larger chambers. Take a look at how each one of these conducts their business and meetings to find the one that will work for you and your business.

Get your own personal sales force

One of the most overlooked aspects of these types of groups is the development of great relationships and working partnerships that turn into warm referrals from others in the group. We can speak to this in regard to our own experience — one relationship has turned into over a million dollars in business for our company. And our guess is it’s actually more than that if we were to look at the referrals from referrals. 

We don’t know of a better referral than a warm one from someone they know and trust. Networking opportunities are where you build such relationships.

From one company to another

We had the opportunity to work with a gutter company that was having a hard time during the winter months when no one thinks about gutters. After recommending they join a networking group, they had two sales staff members join two different local BNI groups. Not only did they make it through the winter, but they were surprised how well those relationships with others in the group have continued to bring business in week in and week out.

A cautionary tale

We do want to warn you about thinking it’s a one-way win for your business. These are real business relationships and as with all relationships, there is an expectation that you will do your part as well. That means you will be responsible for giving referrals back to the other businesses and people in the group. 

If you go in with a “get” mentality, you won’t get much. If you go in with a “give” mentality, you will get a lot out of these relationships. Don’t give up. It takes some time for people to get to know you and your business as well as for you to get to know them and theirs.

Look for opportunities

You never know what opportunities are in your own backyard unless you are looking for them. And speaking of yards, yard signs are a great way to get the word out in the areas you serve. We have clients that bring in four to six jobs per month by simply asking those they already serve if they can put a sign in their yard. Most customers are happy to do so. If allowed, you can also put these signs out in public places but be aware that many municipalities have ordinances against this practice. Check before you put these out.

Another great place to brand your business in your area is through sponsorships of local schools and kids' activities. You can sponsor football, baseball, basketball, band, the arts, and drama in many schools as they need the help. You can also sponsor little leagues, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts troops. 

We have an HVAC client that has a video running in a local gym. You may be wondering how he pulled that one off. He is a member of the gym and asked them if he could add his business to the video they were playing. All he did was ask and they said yes.

Has your business gone to the dogs?

Maybe you should look into getting your business involved with a local animal shelter. There are a lot of dog and cat lovers out there and they support businesses that help animals. Go talk to one of those shelters and ask how you can help. Can you sponsor a dog a month for adoption? You can pay for the care of the dog and in return put this on your website, on all your social media platforms, to your groups online and off, and in your neighborhood forums.

People love seeing what the companies they give their money to do for charity. And if you don’t like dogs or cats or have a personal connection to another charity, start getting involved and see if you can get others involved as well. One way to do this is to let your staff decide and give them some time off every month to volunteer with that group. It does wonders for your company culture as long as it’s real. If you hate animals, don’t sponsor animals. Be authentic and get involved in the community you serve.

Embrace local trade shows

Trade shows bring in a lot of people and ultimately you are in the people business. And if they don’t know about your business, that’s on you, not them. Local trade shows are a great way for you to introduce your business and to let people know you are still around.

One of our clients was blown away when a past customer told him he thought he’d gone out of business. When our client asked him why — because he’s all over the local organic search — the customer told him he hadn’t seen his business at the Lawn and Garden Show in a couple of years. When he went back and looked at his past books, he realized that he had a pretty good bump in business from that show and started doing it again.

But as with all the other community and local opportunities, you do have to work your booth. Ask the following questions to get the best value from a trade show.

  • What am I offering that would make someone give me their name, address, phone number, or email address? 
  • Do I have anything at the booth that would attract my customer’s kids?
  • How can I keep people at my booth long enough to get to know their needs?
  • Is my signage all about me or about the benefit of what they get by working with me?
  • Do I have enough people to work the booth so no one gets left out?
  • How am I going to get people to sign up? Should I use paper or technology?

All great questions to ask yourself before you prepare your booth for the big day.

If you aren’t offering something good enough that you would give up your name, address, phone number, or email address then why do you think someone else would?

Kids love candy, a spinner toy, something they can put together, etc. Find a crafty mom and ask them what they recommend. You do have to do some research here.

Have a Keurig coffee maker with coffee, tea, and hot chocolate available to make. Talk to them while it brews. Or hand out small water bottles and have a quick conversation while you are grabbing and giving it to them.

Pay your people to work your booth.

While technology is great, having real paper and pens to fill out a contest form says to the potential winner, “We will pull from these to find a winner” as well as keeps people engaged as long as they are writing their information down. Using technology has a way of sending out the vibe of, “I’m going to email, call, and bug you for days after the show!”

We hope these suggestions will help you find those local marketing opportunities that so many businesses miss or think are not important. If you have others that we have missed, we’d love to know what those are if you’re willing to let them out of the bag. In the meantime, start looking for opportunities in your local market.

About the authors: Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the authors of Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love and the owners of Spark Marketer, a "no bull" digital marketing company that’s been getting sh*t done for home service businesses across the nation for a decade. They’re trusted thought leaders in the industries they serve, which is why you’ll find them regularly speaking at service industry trade shows and conferences and writing for trade magazines. Tired of empty promises and ready for focused digital marketing and balls-to-the-wall dedication that gets your business seen? Visit


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