I was watching Tweets earlier today and noticed this one from Jason Houck ( http://weighyourmind.com/consulting/ ) appear on my timeline and it immediately struck a chord with me both in relationship to traditional and online marketing.
This was a lesson that I had to learn many, many, years ago when I moved from a pure IT consultancy basis to the website industry (way back in the mid 90’s). At the time there wasn’t a great number of people around who could build sites and the idea that a business needed a site was just beginning to take hold. I decided to spread the net far and wide and advertised in publications like Daltons Weekly, Exchange and Mart as well as some other local and national advertising. Although I got enquiries from across the UK (and even beyond at times) I can honestly say that the ones that converted into customers were locally based.
Move forward 20 years and as some of you know, I deal fairly extensively with professional firms working on their SEO to try and get them enquiries via their websites (the type of businesses I work will do not sell services directly from their websites).
I constantly have a battle with many of these firms (mainly accountants) who seem to think that just because they have a website it means that they can get clients from across the UK and do not seem to realise that the “audience segment” that will turn into customers for them are more than likely going to be locally based. I even hear “but we can handle clients from anywhere” as a counter argument and, while this may be true, how many people would want an accountant at the other end of the country or even in the next town. Indeed I know from experience that even in London the vast majority of people will be looking for a local firm of accountants and won’t even consider using one in South London if they are based in North London for example, heck people in Islington probably won’t even use a firm of accountants in Finchley unless there’s a very good reason (such as needing a specialist service).
Interestingly, earlier on in the week I was reading a blog from another specialist in marketing (Mark Lee who is a professional speaker, author and mentor) at http://bookmarklee.co.uk/where-do-you-want-your-promotional-messages-to-be-seen/ where the comment is made “I make this point frequently to sole practitioners – and the point is relevant to many 2 or 3 partner firms too. Unless you have some special expertise or sector focus, the vast majority of your new clients will come from the local and surrounding area.”
Of course, this doesn’t only apply to firms such as accountants, in my local town there is a gift and craft shop that advertises on their site that they run birthday and hen parties in the shop (along with team building sessions). Their site is very firmly based on the local area as they know that the furthest someone will come for a birthday party is about 5 miles and that hen parties will be either local or people who are visiting the Snowdonia area and want something to do as part of the celebrations.
So, what do you think, do you know who is likely to be using your services or buying your products? If not, why not – have you really thought about your offering and who your customers are likely to be – this should be part of your business planning after all.