Report question

Note: your identity will not be shared with the person who sent you this message.
This field is required

Relocated to a small town, Need help marketing

We recently (6 months ago) relocated from San Francisco where our business was growing rapidly but so was our overhead and stress level, to the southern California mountain community of Big Bear Lake. Since moving our business which was mostly internet orders where we would make custom signs and ship them to the customer has dropped off dramatically. The original plan was to relocate, drop our overhead and keep doing the internet based orders, but it hasn't worked out that way. We have worked for some very high profile customers (Ocean Spray, NBC, San Francisco Mayor's Office) but are stalling in this small community.

I am considering adding other services to what we offer, namely antique restorations, refinishing services etc. as I have a background in these things and they would fit in with our current services and would provide a local work source, and would allow me to approach contractors with those services that they would hopefully bring our way. There is no one locally offering any of the services we are looking into adding including:

Antique restoration, tub and sink refinishing, furniture refinishing, vinyl and leather repair (we have 7 boat marinas) and basic upholstery work

I would like some advice from someone who has a background on marketing in a small community (we have a total of about 10,000 people here). In San Francisco our website generated regular leads, and word of mouth spread quickly. We have a Yellow Page ad coming out in January and are members of the local Chamber here (Chamber hasn't produced one lead yet.)

Anyone with input on where to go from here would be much appreciated.

Sign in to answer

3 answers


First issue, your existing business.  I'm a little puzzled....if it was internet based, I'm struggling to understand why it would drop off because of your move ??  And, I suspect, some of it has to do with the economy as well.  Nonetheless, you have to become a voracious viral marketer.  Get your facebook and twitter activity increased.  Rely on friends, family, re-tweeting, etc.  Scour Craig's list for everything and anything related to signage.....and if you are not yet and can afford the Google ads, that is your other best bet for an internet based business.   Joining the chamber  will only help if you network voraciously there as well and ask for leads.  The 6 degrees of separation law is alive and well.  Find out where in your town the "buzz" takes place.  Offer to do some "goodwill" signage to win favor.  Target strategic areas outside of your town and do similar things.  But mostly, work your website as much as possible if you want to stay an internet based business.  Lastly, what is it about your business that is unique and different?  If nothing, work on that as well.  I could go on forever, but hopefully this is enough to get you inspired....God Bless and Good Luck !

Report Carolyn's answer

Note: your identity will not be shared with the person who sent you this message.
This field is required

Sean...I agree with Carolyn. Why did the Internet orders fall off? In 1996, we relocated from San Diego to a town in Idaho with about 7,000 people. Before we moved, we were working with clients virtually. We asked if they cared whether we were 1,200 miles away instead of 30. They said no. So we moved ;-)

Even years later, still 95% of our customers are not local. I found our Chamber of Commerce here equally useless and dropped out years ago. I've never had a yellow pages ad; just a free listing.

In addition to Carolyn's suggestions, have you gotten testimonials from your big name customers for your web site? Are there specific articles you can write that answer questions people searching for signage might have? The more specific content you can add to your site to draw in visitors, the better. Good luck!

Report Susan's answer

Note: your identity will not be shared with the person who sent you this message.
This field is required

First, thank you both for taking the time to respond.

What I have found is that when we were in San Francisco it seemed to add a mystique to what we were doing and now the calls have dropped off. We went from 3 to 4 leads each day to 3 to 4 a month since the move.

I put a ton of effort into seo and working on our website, and that does work well for us, I am now just looking for ways to establish ourselves locally. We still are working with several clients out of state, but I need to offset it with what we lost when we moved from San Francisco.

We have a testimonials page on our site with some testimonials from very high profile customers.

My next approach I am thinking is to print up some flyers and just start knocking on doors, business to business.

Report Sean's answer

Note: your identity will not be shared with the person who sent you this message.
This field is required