How do I write about and market a new local business?

Is local marketing merely about leaflets and posters? Or is that just not enough these days?

Local business startup owner gets some good – and some bad – advice

Hi Suze
I  run a small pet sitting company and I am slowly getting more and more clients but I would welcome any innovative ideas on free/cheap marketing. I am still running the business whilst working full time so my time is limited. I have done the obvious, leaving leaflets in pets shops, vets etc. but I don’t really have a good understanding of good marketing strategies or how to grow a business like this. Many thanks in advance.

My reply … Hi (name)

As the owner of various rescue dogs and cats I would say the most important element of marketing your business is to build up trust that people can feel confident about leaving their pets in your care.

A simple, and free way to do that would be to start up a locally-based Facebook page for your business – or a group – where you share advice on pet care, safety, training, etc. to establish your own knowledge and experience.

If it’s a group you could also get people to ask you questions about their pets and you would then answer them, again reinforcing your expertise.

How do I write about my new business?

Some of my rescue Furballs. Would you leave yours alone with a stranger who had stopped you out with them in the park, and given you a business card?

The other great benefit of this approach is that it’s consistent with the current online trend of sharing knowledge, rather than advertising, and of building inter-active relationships with your customer base.

You won’t see instant results this way but what you will achieve is a good reputation for knowing your stuff, and loyal customers who will refer you to their friends.

To be honest, listings, leaflets, posters on notice boards do nothing to reassure people that you offer a professional, safe service.

Put it this way: I wouldn’t trust any of my motley, furry crew to a stranger whose details I just read on a card…

Hope this is helpful. Suze.

For more advice and information about marketing and writing for local businesses, choose from 30 articles right here on HTWB.

Can we believe in the advice people give us on social media?

Another interesting thing that shook down from this conversation – which also took place in a business group on social media – was the not-exactly-altruistic advice given by several posters.

  1. One said this pet-sitter should have various different cards printed to send out, hand out, put through mailboxes etc. (He has a printing company.)
  2. Another suggested advertising in local handbooks and magazines. (Her profession? Local magazine owner.)
  3. A third suggested they attend a networking meeting for just £15 (roughly USD $20) the next day. (Getting better, but guess what this person does? Yep – runs a networking group.)
  4. A fourth suggested Facebook and Instagram advertising along with Facebook Live and Instagram Stories. (From a social media marketing consultant.)
  5. And a fifth suggested a 30-40 second video. (No prizes for guessing what this person does for a living.)

What about trust?

As you’ve seen, I put myself in this person’s potential customers’ shoes and gave advice from by far the most important point of view here: trust.

After your kids and other family, for many people their pets are the next most important creatures in their lives.

How come the five jokers above didn’t pick up on that?

Is it because they are totally ignorant about marketing?

Or were they being greedy, trying to sell their own stuff – no matter how inappropriate – to an innocent new startup business owner?

Rant over! Now: what do YOU think? Do you trust advice you get in this way?

Please share…