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SPARKS Blog: How to promote your business locally

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TradeSparky looks at cost-effective ways – online and offline – to market your company to drum up local business.

As a local electrician, the ideal situation would be to build up such a good reputation that you can rely on repeat business and recommendations alone, but until this stage is reached, the art of self-promotion is still very much necessary.

However, one of the biggest challenges of marketing yourself locally is how to target the right people without spending big bucks. TradesSparky looks at some of the most cost-effective methods of reaching customers, along with the pros and cons of using them.

They have used the town of Wetherby, West Yorkshire, to provide examples.

A word of advice

Before the promotional channels are explored, it is worth pointing out that all forms of advertising require a certain amount of creativity in terms of design and copy to help you stand out from the competition. If this isn’t your forte, then it is worth seeking help from friends or family. For some channels it is also required to have a Facebook page or website that potential customers can be directed to, which can be used to showcase images of your work and read or provide testimonials.

Offline

1. Local directories and lifestyle magazines

Most regions have a local directory distributed throughout the community, where tradespeople and businesses can advertise. These still remain popular with households because they are regularly delivered through the door and are focused at a local level. They are also relatively cheap to advertise in. ‘On Your Doorstep’ distributes a directory to 16,500 households within Wetherby and the surrounding area. A 62mm X 42mm colour advert costs £41 plus VAT per month.

There also seems to have been an explosion in regional lifestyle magazines which cover local fashion, interior design, entertainment and eateries etc. These are more expensive to advertise in, but are another way to target local residents.

Excelle magazine is circulated to 20,000 homes in Wetherby and the surrounding area and costs £125 for a 1/8th of a page up to £750 for a full page. Advertising costs will often reduce if space is booked in blocks of a few months. Also, these directories and magazines are often looking for features. By offering to produce an electrical related article, if you’re that way inclined, advertising costs may be reduced further or even provided for free. This is also good PR and will help raise your profile in the local area.

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2. Flyering

Rather than relying on third parties to distribute advertising for your services, you can always produce the promotional material yourself and deliver them door-to-door. This is obviously more time-consuming, but the advantage of this is that your flyer is being mailed on its own rather than within a publication which contains lots of other adverts. The circulation won’t be quite as good (unless you want to print and post 20,000 flyers) but the printing will be a fraction of the cost. For example, an online printer such as Vistaprint can produce 250 business cards for £11.99 or 1000 A5 flyers for £36.62 inc. VAT.

3. Local noticeboards

Pinning up an advert on a cork noticeboard in the window of the local post office, newsagent, etc. may seem quite old fashioned, but this can still be effective. Believe it or not, not everyone is online, especially the older generation, and they need electricians too! The other benefit is that this advertising is often for a nominal fee (Wetherby Post Office charges 50p a week). They may even throw in the use of a thumbtack for free!

Online

4. Google Ads

The problem with offline promotion is that you can target local people, but you have no idea if or when they will actually need your services. This is where online activities can have an advantage, as you can target your advertising towards people who are actively searching for a local electrician.

For example, a Google Ad for the search term ‘electrician’ in Wetherby will cost you approximately £1.30 for every person who googles this phrase and then clicks through to your website. Your ad is also likely to feature in position two on page one in the search results. This may seem a lot ‘per click’, but you already know that the user is interested and may convert if your website does a decent job of promoting the quality of your service.

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5. Online business directories

Online business directories such as yell.com allow you to create a free online profile and these usually rank highly in Google when someone searches for a tradesperson for a specific location. However, these directories also allow customers to rate and review you, so generating good reviews will be essential in converting Yell users into leads. Success will very much be dependent on the strength of your overall profile.

There are also various platforms whose function is to specifically find local tradespeople such as Checkatrade and Rated People. However, there may be a subscription charge to register, and again, your success will depend on the strength of your profile.

6. Local online forums

Every region will have various online forums dedicated to the local community. These are perfect for people to make recommendations for tradespeople and for electricians to provide sought-after advice to raise their profile locally. However, it is better to not be overly ‘salesy’ on these platforms. Each group will have its own rules – for instance, the Wetherby Grumbler on Facebook has over 12,000 members, but local businesses are only allowed to promote themselves on a Tuesday.

Google ‘[your location] online forums’ or search for your location in ‘Groups’ on Facebook to find forums that are relevant to you, but make sure you read the rules of engagement before posting.

These tips are provided by TradeSparky, a UK online electrical wholesaler who specialises in providing a comprehensive collection of high quality, branded products from the world’s leading manufacturers to contractors, electricians, tradespeople and DIY consumers.

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