When you think of pop, do you immediately think of whatever off-brand your grocery store sells? No, you think of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or their products, like Sprite. That’s market domination, and it didn’t happen overnight. It happened as a result of consistent efforts to get the Pepsi and Coca-Cola brands out in front of people and into their homes.
You may think that a product is very different from a service business, but in this respect, it’s not. You need to become the Coca-Cola or Pepsi of your industry for your local market, and it starts with simple brand awareness. So how do you dominate your market and become the local Pepsi or Coca-Cola of your community?
Local Radio & TV
While more and more people are getting their news and music from places other than TV and the radio (like Facebook and Spotify), TV and radio aren’t dead and they can be great places for you to meet your potential customers. These media outlets have demographics of their listeners and viewers and you can use that information to figure out which stations, channels, and even times, your target customers favor.
Maybe the majority of your target audience watches the local news segment in the evening or the weather first thing in the morning. Maybe they listen to a morning show or traffic report on their way into work. Use that knowledge and get radio ad and TV commercial slots around the same times and on those same channels and stations.
But it goes beyond advertising. Keep your eyes and ears opened for opportunities to provide value and establish yourself as a local, trusted expert through these mediums. Journalists are always looking for a story, so tie your business in. Are chimney fires happening a lot in your community? As a chimney sweep, that’s a great opportunity for you to educate your community on how to prevent fires, what to look for in a chimney sweep, and the importance of chimney inspections and sweepings. Offer to share your expertise on air and get your local community familiar with your company.
Magazines, Forums & HARO
Magazines and forums are great outlets for establishing your authority, educating your community, and building brand awareness. With trade magazines, local magazines, consumer-focused magazines, and forums like Quora, the opportunity to answer the questions your customers and potential customers have, find out what they want to know and what’s important to them, and get your name out in front of consumers has never been easier. Spend a little time each week writing and looking for opportunities to answer questions, educate, and inform. Once you identify which publications you can add value to, reach out to the editor-in-chief or a particular journalist who seems to cover related topics, and pitch a story or article. HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is another great option for getting your name and knowledge out there. Sign up for emails and respond to opportunities that are a good match for your company and area of expertise.
Like magazines, forums, HARO, local radio, and TV, blog posts are a great way to get your name out there and provide value to customers and potential customers. The more you blog and the more value you provide with your blog, the more opportunities you have to show up in search results when customers and potential customers are looking for expertise and answers to questions related to your industry. Think of questions you’re commonly asked on the job and use your blog to answer those questions. Talk about industry trends and products. If it’s something you think your customers would find interesting and helpful, blog about it!
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube offer more avenues for expanding brand reach and establishing trust and expertise. Within Facebook, you can join local neighborhood groups and keep an eye out for anyone who is in need of your services or dealing with a problem that you can solve. Don’t get pushy or sales-y or you could be removed from the group, but look for opportunities to help those in your community and build familiarity. Of course, Facebook Ads are another great option because they allow you to target and retarget a highly defined group of people, so they get familiar with your business and offerings.
Instagram and YouTube are great for sharing quick videos that educate consumers and show what you do. How-To videos are sought out by everyone from Baby Boomers to Gen Z, so if you can provide instructional videos that solve problems for your customers or educate them, do it! Explain problems, when and why they require professional resolution, and when and why they’re an easy fix. You may think that these types of videos will cause you to lose business, but they actually establish you as an authority and give your customers a glimpse into the knowledge and expertise that goes into troubleshooting and solving the issues you solve for them.
Last but not least in the social media realm: Pinterest. A lot of people leave Pinterest out of the conversation, but it’s still a powerful and popular social platform, so if your work is very visual (if you’re a house painter or a fireplace installer, for example), Pinterest is worth spending some time on. Post before/after pictures of your work, share trends, and make sure you use the right tagging and description info so your images have a chance of showing up in search results.
Print Ads & Traditional Advertising
We can’t discount the effectiveness of print ads and other traditional advertising, but some traditional print advertising opportunities will provide more value than others. Circulars aren’t always the best route when you’re still building brand awareness, because they primarily engage price shoppers, and price shoppers, in our humble opinion, aren’t all that loyal. They usually go where the best price is and they’ll only use your services when you’re running a special.
Another reason circulars are probably not the best route when you’re working on brand awareness and getting your business name out there is that we’re all used to getting so much junk mail that many of us don’t even look at circulars anymore — they immediately go into the recycle bin. So spend some time thinking about the types of customers you want, what they’re reading and paying attention to, and which types of traditional advertising might provide you the most value and get you out there in front of your potential customers.
And don’t discredit traditional advertising that isn’t direct mail related! Is there a great local diner that’s slammed with business every weekend? Consider paying for a spot on their laminated placemats or coffee cups. When people are sitting there sipping their coffee and waiting for their breakfast, they’ll see your business name, and the more frequently they’re exposed to your business name and logo, the better. Local event and sports team sponsorships can be great advertising options as well. Be creative and think about what type of print and traditional advertising makes sense for your business!
Networking & Local Chambers & Associations
Even with the Internet, networking and involvement with local chambers of commerce and associations are still among the most lucrative forms of advertising, in terms of building brand awareness and dominating the market. So join your local chambers and community groups, introduce yourself to others in related service verticals, and pass out your business cards. The more you introduce yourself to those in your community, the more opportunity there is for others to share your business card or recommend and refer you to others in the community. Groups like BNI and industry group events are perfect opportunities to network.
When you take the time to network and establish yourself as a trusted expert with others who are plugged into your community and out and about meeting your potential customers, you create a network of people who act as an extension of you, and do a lot of your brand awareness marketing for you.
There are countless ways to spread brand awareness and dominate your market, but you have to implement them to really see the benefit. So choose a few of the suggestions here and get out there and be the Pepsi or Coca-Cola of your industry and market!