Get the message out in your ‘hood

*by Basil O’Hagan

These five action-packed neighbourhood marketing tips will help you to attract customers, drive sales and boost profits…

1. Fuse your markets

A good way to market at almost no cost is to identify other stores and companies that have similar target markets to yours, and then explore ways of partnering with them to fuse your two markets and reach a wider customer base. This is known as fusion marketing and it’s increasingly popular among cost-conscious marketers. Examples include using wall space in partner stores to display marketing posters, teaming up to supply prizes for co-branded competitions, exchanging links and content on your respective websites, and carrying each other’s flyers and marketing material in your stores.

2. Engage with your communitymarketing

Get involved in your neighbourhood. If you do this sincerely and get to know other community members as friends, in time they will come to support your business. Ideas for engagement include joining a residents’ association, serving as a trustee on your body corporate, connecting with a charity, hooking up with local sports clubs or schools or just participating in events like beach clean-up days etc. Don’t overplay the business angle, the support will come in good time.

Too often a mailing list is just a list of names, numbers and emails. Try to personalise your database by trimming it constantly and  reminding yourself why the people included are there.

3. Humanise your database

Too often a mailing list is just a list of names, numbers and emails. Try to personalise your database by trimming it constantly and  reminding yourself why the people included are there, where they work and other relevant information. When you send out a company email newsletter, include an individualised note, for example: “Hi Mike, I hope your trip to the Eastern Cape was enjoyable. Here is our March newsletter.” This shows that you know and appreciate your loyal customers; and conventional wisdom is that we should spend 60% of our time on existing clients.

4. Train and lecture

Do you have a knack for staff training, explaining your industry or how to make your way in business? If you do, consider giving a seminar or teaching a course at your local school, college or university. Teaching in your field adds to your credibility, and you will also be doing your bit to draw talented youngsters into the industry, and creating future customers.

5. Get expo exposure

Exhibitions and trade shows are a great opportunity to find out about your industry and to source new business. As with all networking, though, you should go there more to listen and learn than to tell people about your amazing business. Certainly, go armed with a bunch of business cards and a concise story about what you do, but also look to find out more about industry trends, gather other exhibitors’ marketing literature, scout for potential suppliers and clients, and see what works and what doesn’t work.

*With more than three decades of experience in the marketing and brand-building arena, Basil O’ Hagan, best known as the founder of well-known local restaurant chains O’Hagan’s Pub & Grill and later The Brazen Head, shares his secrets in his new book 415 Action-Packed Neighbourhood Marketing Tips. This is an extract from that book. To find out more visit: www.bohmarketing.co.za.