You started a business to solve an identified need in your locality. People are looking for people who will solve their problems without adding more stress to their lives. They are ready to pay for it. The question becomes, how do they find you?
How do we find service providers or where to buy things?
Word of Mouth
Let start with the old school method, which is still alive and well – ask a friend (or family) — the good old word of mouth recommendation. Word of mouth has limitations. One of them is that the standard of who is making the recommendation may be lower than yours. She may tell you “That guy is good” but when you try him, you may wonder why you allowed yourself to get into that situation. What may you may be looking for may not be available in your locality, or the people who you ask may not know. It is still a good way of finding what you are looking for
Road Side Shop
Depending on where you live, you pass shops on your way when you leave home (and on your way back). You see the signs, display of merchandise etc. but you have no experience with the vendor or know someone who does. You may look at the calibre of cars parked by patrons of the shop to deduce is the experience will be gone or not (if people who drive beautiful cars stop there to buy, then it is a good deal etc.). Sometimes the shop is closed when you leave home early for work and also closed when you come back late.
I remember once I ran out of cooking gas the gas plant I buy from was closed, so I had to look for alternatives from my locality. At the first two gas retail shops, I stopped to buy, and the shop owners were not in the shop, though the doors were open. I called the numbers on the signage without connecting. At last, I got a response and the owner was miles away from the shop. He asked me to wait for him, as he will soon be back in the shop. After 15 minutes of fruitless wait, I moved on to the next shop. It was a painful process.
The reality is that you cannot restrict yourself to your locality to get clients. Having an online presence expands your reach and allows you to interact with your customers and operate 24/7 even when your physical shop has closed.
You can sell via social media if you learn the skill of engaging your audience. People come to social media for different reasons. Many go to Facebook and Instagram etc. to tell the world what is going on with them, real or imagines. Others go online to view what is happening to others when still some are going online to troll. Tech-savvy thieves and criminals go online to pick their targets. Same with those looking for love. Still, some seek followers to become social media influencers. In the midst of these, some are open to buying if you convince them to buy.
Getting followers and putting your goods and services before the right audience takes a lot of work. There is a much quicker way of boosting or promoting your posts. Your sales copy has to be such that move the reader to action
Pay Per Click Advertising
As a small business owner, paying for a billboard or taking a full or half-page advert in a national newspaper may be beyond your budget. Google Adwords offers text, image and video ads where you pay for click or per impression. Other social media giants like Facebook, twitter etc. also have similar offerings.
However, you need to have the skill in targetting and converting your visitors to buyers or you may end up spending a lot of money with little to show except brand awareness.
Directories & Ecommerce Sites
You can list your business in major directories for a token (virtually free) or for free on Google Place, Facebook Page etc. The more places you are listed, the easier for people to find you. YOu can also open a free storefront on Jumia, Konga etc. for free and expose your goods to a bigger audience (if you sell physical products). Spending some time to learn the ropes can bring long term results in growing your business in increasing your income.
Grow your business
The internet has changed the way we do business. While local businesses will continue to exist side by side with companies that go national and global, restricting yourself to local market confines you to a shrinking pool of customers — digital skills are one of the critical skills of the information age business marketplace. To grow and thrive as a business, you need to step out of your comfort zone and embrace the new frontier of online business.