Launching a new agency is as exciting as it is nerve-wracking. The biggest challenge of opening a new business is gaining local awareness and snagging your first client. One of the most important things about launching a new business is ensuring not only your target audience knows you’re there, but so does the entire community. Here are some foolproof strategies to gain local awareness, brand loyalty, and new clients.
Have your website up and running, and send out a press release to all local media outlets (newspapers, radio stations, etc.) announcing your arrival. Talk about your offerings and your areas of expertise. Focus on how your business will be advantageous to your community. Tell your story about why you’re opening in that specific area and how you plan to contribute to the community. Be sure to include your contact information and conclude the release by directing the reader to your website to learn more about your agency.
If your budget permits, hiring a local PR firm is a good approach for many reasons. Not only are you more likely to have your story picked up and shared, you’ll also gain an invaluable business contact. If your budget does not allow for hiring an agency, consider bartering. Offer a straight trade deal on the value of the PR agency price to a package of your services that matches that price. Make the trade deal so that the agency can pass on your agency package to one of its clients if the PR agency prefers. This approach leads to more local awareness and gaining more connections and more clients.
Join Local Business Associations and Stay Involved
Register with the local Chamber of Commerce and any other business associations in your area. By becoming a member, your agency will be listed on the association website with a link to your site. These associations typically have events of all types from networking “meet and greets” to sponsoring other local events. Get to know the president and other members of the association to grow personal relationships and trust. The more people you know in the business community, the more the business community will respond to your agency. As you know, social connections and word of mouth are some of the most effective marketing strategies around. And they’re free.
Be sure to register your agency with Google. This small and free step creates tons of exposure. Once registered, your business will appear on Google search and on Google maps. You can upload pictures, your logo, customer reviews and more. It will also display a link to your site, your business hours, your address, and phone number. An added bonus is it offers the user directions right to your office. Also, clients can write a Google review of your agency – more advertising for you. That’s a lot of marketing value at no cost to you.
Social relationships don’t always need to be face to face. Making connections online is just as valuable as in-person, and you can share more information on a social media platform. I don’t imagine you’d read a fascinating blog post you wrote to a local business owner at a community event. I think we can all agree that’d be a little awkward. But on social media, you can spread your knowledge (and prove your value) far and wide to a very receptive audience.
Good news for small businesses is that the social media outlets recognized this opportunity and set up programs for businesses to easily connect with other businesses and potential clients. Social media marketing is a powerful, personal, and affordable tool. The perfect trifecta!
Facebook is an extremely cost-effective marketing tool for small businesses to gain awareness and also gain clients. With their targeted marketing options, you can pinpoint potential clients in your area and run ads, boost posts, offer freemiums, and the list goes on. For an easy to follow guide to accomplish this, check out: 8 Ways Businesses Use Local Awareness Ads | Facebook for Business
LinkedIn is also a great social outlet for growing business connections, awareness, and clients. Join local business groups on LinkedIn and participate in discussions. Bring valuable content and share on the platform. Send out invitations to connect with local businesses in your area, and not just the ones you’re targeting. The more connections you have, the more awareness you’ll gain. This is also a great way to network and make personal contacts with business members in your community. LinkedIn has also set up businesses advertising platform with the full details here: linkedin.com – LinkedIn Advertising – Highly Targeted Business Ads
Twitter is another effective social media outlet for businesses. Share your blog posts, engage with influencers, and get your brand out there. Remember your posts are limited to 140 characters so make them count! And always engage with your audience. You can set up an automatic reply for anyone who follows you. Use this opportunity to thank them for the follow and direct them to your website to learn more about your company. For more details on Twitter marketing, follow this link: Twitter Ads For Your Business – Start An Ads Campaign Today
It must be noted that social media marketing is also a very time-consuming endeavor. To save time and resources, use a social media distribution platform like HootSuite and save tons of time and optimize your efforts.
Introduce yourself to the local businesses you’re targeting. Compile a list of the local businesses that match your target audience and send an introductory letter or card with a branded useful gift like reusable cloth bags, tumblers or any item that someone will actually use. The beauty of sending promotional items is the recipients will appreciate the gift, and it’s more advertising and brand awareness for your agency. Be sure to include a personal note in your mailing.
Host an Event
Hold a networking event at your office (if the space is appropriate) or at a public place and invite your targeted audience, members of your business associations, and other local influencers (bloggers, journalists, etc.) Make it casual, offer light hors d’oeuvres and wine to make it more social and appealing to attend. Mingle, mingle, mingle! The more social connections you make in your local community the better.
Sponsor Local Events
Community events usually need local business sponsors, and sponsoring an event is a wonderful way to get involved and network in the community. Typically the organization will include the sponsor(s) on all promotional items for the event, put a logo and link to the sponsor website on the event website, and recognize the sponsor (your agency) at the actual event. Some events allow the sponsors to set up booths and promote their business at the event. This enables you to speak directly to potential clients and make great connections, growing brand awareness and your customer base. If there is a fee for entry, the sponsors typically get free tickets which are great to give to clients and potential clients. Sponsoring local events is a really effective way to grow brand loyalty, awareness, and overall sales.
Sponsor a Local Charity
Find a local charity the resonates with your agency (or your passions) and become a main sponsor. This is a positive move on every level. Your business is helping another organization, your brand becomes more appealing to your community, and you gain more exposure. Further your exposure by sending out a press release and gain even more attention. Add “Proud Sponsor of” and add the organization’s logo to your website with a link to theirs. You can also include your sponsorship and reasoning why on your “About Us” section of your website. This gives other local businesses an idea of who you are as an agency and helps further increase brand loyalty.
Establish a Referral Program
Offer clients and any individual an incentive to refer your business. You can offer discounts on your services, gift cards, or branded goodies (my favorite – free advertising!). A referral program helps grow your agency with new clients, increases brand loyalty, and grows your overall brand awareness in a very positive light.
Share Quality Content
Create a blog on your website and load it with relevant and valuable information. Sharing quality and useful content not only spreads brand awareness (and optimizes your SEO – search engine optimization – by the way), it shows your expertise in the area you specialize in. Share your blog posts on your social media pages and with other relevant blogging sites. The more your content is shared, the more local businesses will learn about you and want to work with you.
Now You’re Ready!
As mentioned, launching a new agency is both an exciting and stressful event. Have confidence your business will shine by utilizing the tools above. As each business is different, so is every community so you’ll need to decide which of these strategies to utilize. However, it is highly recommended that every free tool mentioned above be utilized. You can never turn down free exposure! Of course, your budget will play a major part in the decision-making process but also use your instincts. You chose your community to open your agency, how can your business shine in the greatest light in that community? I’m confident you’ll know your answer. 😉
Any experience on it? Or having challenges? Just leave a comment or join our closed facebook group to discuss about all these things.