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There may come a time in your business that you start looking to expand. Your growth has pushed the limits of your current operations, and you’re ready for the next challenge. That may result in expanding your business to serve more locations and markets.
So what’s the process to expand into a new location? Much of this will reflect the beginning stages of your marketing strategy’s inception, but now that a lot of the hard work has been done for your current market, you can duplicate that with a new location.
You’ll first need to decide how big of a shift this will be for you and your team. There’s a difference in your approach if you are looking to enter a neighboring city rather than a location in a different county or even state!
For example, you may be a home service provider in Gainesville looking to expand your business to serve homeowners in the neighboring towns of Williston and Alachua. That’s a much simpler approach than if you were looking to expand into Jacksonville or Orlando, much bigger cities with different customers and more competition. That type of move also requires a new physical location, more employees, and other business expenses.
Before you expand into your new market, keep these marketing considerations in mind.
After deciding the where of your new service area, you need to do more digging. You can’t “copy and paste” your strategy to a new area just because it works in your current location. It will give you a starting point, but there’s still more research to be done.
First things first, you need to scope out your competition. Who are the main stakeholders in this new area? You’re likely competing with businesses with a local presence for decades and already cultivated a long list of loyal customers.
We recommend crafting a competitor audit with a breakdown of their:
Once completed, you can begin to dive deeper into the clear winners that will be hard to beat out, especially on organic traffic.
Next, you’ll need to run a local SEO audit. Your website likely targets only your current service area. To be competitive in the area you are expanding into, you’ll need to tweak your website and other channels to include location-specific keywords. Some good reminders include:
You’ll also need to decide if you’ll need additional Google Business profiles. Fortunately, you can select your service areas, so a new listing may not be necessary. However, if you are opening another physical location, having a profile with the address in that city would improve your local SEO presence. Google does not allow for multiple physical locations to be under the same Google My Business listing.
Paid promotion looks different in every city, state, and region. Your budget, competition, and targeting can vary dramatically as you enter this new service area. Running a preliminary audit for your pay-per-click and social media advertising will help you determine the right budget for your new campaigns.
Now that you’ve put in the time to do your due diligence, it’s time to start planning out your marketing roll-out.
If you expand your business, you’ll likely need more team members to accomplish your goals. It’s smart to begin a hiring campaign as you are in the research stages to allow for ample time to gather the necessary people before you officially launch. Plus, this can get your brand in front of people initially.
Once you have the resources in place to begin serving this new location, you’ll want to start your marketing efforts at the beginning: brand awareness. You may have served your current area for decades, but you’ll need to assume that no one knows your brand in this new area if you are venturing into a new county or state.
Brand awareness is important as it creates space in people’s minds for your services, your mission, and your name. To do this, we recommend:
As you bring on new leads that eventually convert to customers, take really great notes about these customers. Are they similar to your current customers? Do they gravitate to different services? Market research is especially important as you grow your new customer base.
Gaining new customers will take some time, but keeping them will require even more effort. It’s important to have a customer retention plan in place as you gain more and more customers.
Another important aspect of this building period is gathering great feedback. If you started a new Google My Business listing, you’ll need all of the positive testimonials you can get. Digital word-of-mouth is extremely valuable as people are more likely to work with you if they trust their neighbors. Make sure to have a great strategy in place to gather and respond to online reviews. You might even consider getting plugged into directories like NextDoor and Angie’s List, as they are trusted sources for local recommendations.
Finally, setting the right goals will help you to determine the right priorities as you grow your business. Your business goals and marketing key performance indicators will look different from the ones you’ve leaned on in the past. KPIs like social media followers, impressions, share of voice, geo-specific website users, and email subscribers will likely be used to measure your success as you build your business in a new area.
As with any marketing strategy, you should continuously analyze and optimize to reach success. If you find this area has a lesser emphasis on social media, pour more energy into more competitive channels. When you begin growing, find those wins and implement ways to duplicate them.
At PHOS, we serve clients nationwide. When you grow the right way, you’ll likely have the opportunity to serve even more customers. We’ve got the team to help you find success in your current location and branch out into new ones.
Let’s grow together. Connect with our team to get started.