How Does Social Media Help Generate Local Business?

How much more profitable would your business be if you could tap into more local customers?

Do you think you could generate more sales/recruits from local or geographically-further customers?

Have you exhausted the supply of local customers in your area?  Does EVERYONE know what you have to offer?

Social media gives us such an advantage in terms of reaching a far-flung audience.  No longer are we bound by geography.  But I don’t think we give enough thought to how we can use social media to generate LOCAL business.

When direct selling started, it was about selling to people in our own areas.  We understood their culture.  They were our neighbors.  Each salesperson serviced their local area, and generated an income.  As we begin to move away from that local market, I wonder if our sales per customer remains the same?  Obviously our family will purchase from us, wherever they live.  But what about customers that we only meet online?  Will they bring you the same sales per customer that a neighbor will? 

With a local person, we have the opportunity to meet face to face.  And in-person relationships cannot be replaced.  As a general rule, I believe they cause more buyer loyalty than we’ll ever experience any other way.

So I believe that one thing we should be looking at as direct sellers is ways to generate more LOCAL business through social media.  We should be thinking in much the same way as local brick and mortar small businesses, when we explore ways to find more customers and recruits who are right in our own backyards.

Some of these I’ve talked about before: advertising on Yahoo and Google Local, getting a listing on your local chamber of commerce website.  You can also join local online community groups.  For example, my town has a “Metuchen Matters” site for local residents.  It’s a way to find other people in the community whom I might not otherwise know.

I also like what a local ice cream shop in my town does, advertising blood drives he sponsors through his Facebook presence. (Free ice cream for everyone who donates.)  You could hook up with a local brick and mortar shop to do something similar.

I’m also thinking a lot right now about how things like Foursquare might play a part, and have been experimenting with this lately.  Foursquare is helping local restaurants and other businesses reward loyal customers when they check in.  Does this have an application for what we do? Everyone checks in to a party or opportunity event and gets a special offer or discount?  People check in at your booth at a craft fair or bazaar and get a free gift?  I’m still thinking these applications through, but I think there’s something here.  Because we are, at our core, local businesses.  That’s what makes this industry tick, and we can use technology to do that better.

How are you using social media to engage local customers and prospects?  Let’s share some ideas!  I’ll bet that together, we can come up with an awesome list that will benefit everyone.  Looking forward to reading your ideas below.

Jennifer

p.s. I’ve got a special training announcement coming up later this week.  Stay tuned for all the details!

4 Responses to How Does Social Media Help Generate Local Business?
  1. Janette Stoll
    April 19, 2010 | 10:02 pm

    Nice post. From what I’ve read so far about foursquare is that it’s best for coffee shops, restaurants, where there’s an actual location for now. I think Yelp or MerchantCircle are great choices for local business owners and Yahoo and Google Local as you mentioned.

    That said, there’s always going to be the next new social media toy to test drive. Choose what’s working for you and keep at it. Otherwise, you’ll be all over the place :).

    Janette

  2. Karen Clark
    April 19, 2010 | 11:27 am

    Good topic! I don’t know if Foursquare or other location based services will work well for direct sales due to them being tied to a physical address, and the privacy issues, since most of what we do is in ours or someone else’s home. I like the idea of using it for public/vendor events though. Someone would need to go to the physical location first and “add” the event as a new venue is all.

    I’ve gotten good leads for new local business by participating in groups on LinkedIn and Facebook that are geared toward a theme or cause in my area. If you search on Groups on either of those sites using your city or county name, you might get lucky like I did. On Twitter I follow a lot of people in my county and they follow me back. I have a followers list for them and I try and click that every day to interact more with the locals. I use the Twitter search, or localtweeps.com. On any of these sites, just be sure to use your own city or county name in your bio so you can be found, too.

    I think one of the best parts of marketing your business online is the ability to meet new people right in your own backyard!
    Karen

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