Q. I have produced and sold a series of PR products for non-profits and small businesses such as books, ebooks, and webinars successfully in my home city. I’m looking to expand to other cities. I am wondering what are the best ways to market my products outside of my home city?
Amanda Miller Littlejohn, Mopwater Social PR, Washington, DC
The following answers have been provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council. Founded by Scott Gerber, the Young Entrepreneur Council is an advocacy group comprised of many of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs and thought leaders. The mission of the Council is to help young people overcome the epidemics of youth unemployment and underemployment by teaching them how to become entrepreneurs.
A. Locate strategic partners
“Find someone else who is passionate and is already well-connected in your space in that city, and partner with them. This will save you time, allow you to expand faster, and give you better distribution through your network. In order to scale your company, you should work through other people who already have the relationships.”
A. Ask for customer referrals
“Ask the people you have already served successfully if they would be willing to introduce you to people in other cities. Non-profit executives tend to have a tight network and probably know of others who could benefit from your services.”
A. Search engine marketing is key
“This is a lot of what we do at Wpromote actually; with search engine marketing (such as Google AdWords, Bing and Yahoo) and social media advertising (Facebook primarily) you can target by very tight localities, with a message that can make you feel very homegrown and local, even though it is a market that you have not yet penetrated. “
A. Utilize social media channels
“Using social media to advertise beyond your local space is a great way to reach other markets. The obvious leaders in this space are Facebook and Twitter, which will allow you to find your target market consumers from around the world. Simply do two things on social media and watch your customer list grow: Establish yourself as an expert, and deliver relevant USEFUL content (not sales pitches) to members of your target market.”
A. Ask yourself key questions before you proceed
“The good news is you have a digital product so this allows expansion to be pretty easy as opposed to having a store on the street corner. Here are a few questions to think over: What online tools are you using to attract non-profits and small businesses? Are you creating some kind of free content you can give away online that is educational, entertaining and/or inspiring? Are you connecting with the influencers in your space on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Do you have testimonials from the folks in your city to serve as social proof to other cities? Have you asked current customers for referrals to friends outside your city?”
A. Blog! Blog! Blog!
“If you’re selling products like books and webinars in your home city you must be an expert on something and if you’re an expert on something, blog about it. You’ll build a relationship with a brand new audience who you can then sell your products to. ”
A. Use Internet tools and services
A. It all starts with a killer website
“Online marketing is the absolute best way for you to expand your PR products business. Start with an excellent website – one that gives away lots of free resources and offers your products for sale. You may even consider starting a blog or doing a series of online videos. The goal is to educate people and really be seen as an expert in the PR arena. Once you have your website, then you can look at driving traffic. Search engine optimization is a great way to drive traffic, but it does take time. You can also look into Facebook Ads and Social Media Marketing for quicker traffic. Remember, it takes time to build your online systems, but once you do, your business will soar!”
A. Network: It is all about who you know
“Find out who the influencers are in that city and hit the events your customers go to. Each city will be another grassroots marketing project except now you hopefully have enough credibility to get in with the influencers and not just attend but speak at the events. It takes effort but each new city you should have more credibility and hopefully eventually other cities are waiting and hoping you will get there at some point.”
A. Partner with sales representatives
“One of the best ways to market a book outside of your home city is to find an agent or use a well known publishing company. This company will want a percentage of the profits, but they will also bring your product or book to their own clients. Many times this will be big companies such as corporate book stores or other business that may benefit from your product, and may even expand your company’s name.”
Nick Friedman, co-founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk
A. Showcase your success as proof of concept
“Start building your network in other cities online, and at networking events and show your potential clients that what you’ve done in your home city is easily duplicable in their city. Find a sales person with a strong network in a different city and offer them a commission-based salary to start. This will combine the power of your product’s success with the potential market that they already have ties to.”
A. Hit the conference circuit
“In the B2B marketplace, association conferences are great ways to get new business. They’re great because decision makers from all across the country gather in one place. You can reach those people at the conference by speaking, exhibiting, and sponsoring the event.”
Michael Simmons, co-founder of The Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour
A. Find your target clients online
“It sounds like you’ve got a great information product business. To spread your reach, use the Internet, where geography doesn’t matter — relevance does. Find out where your customers hang out online — which blogs? Which newsletters? Go there, make partnerships, and your sales will increase dramatically.”
A. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people
“Networking with others via social media, going to seminars, contacting others from your target market and touching base with them. You don’t even have to leave your home city if you make some great connections online and keep building from there.”
A. Leverage your existing customer base for word of mouth business in other locations
“Setting up a website with geo-targeted search engine advertising could be a good way to kick start things in a different location. If there are tradeshows or gatherings of your target clients around the country you may want to try attending or exhibiting – that works well for some businesses and not well for others. Also, there is a strong chance the marketing methods that have worked in your home city would work in other places as well”
What advice do you have for gaining market share in a new market place? Leave your advice in the comments!
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Category: Startup Advice