Top Tips for Marketing in Your Hometown

A few years back, I was assigned an article at the publication where I did most of my freelance writing. It was for an ongoing column that readers loved called, “Hometown Heroes.”

This particular article would have me driving about 45 minutes one way to the far edge of a tiny town on a two lane highway that spans from Mocksville to Concord, NC or further.

Word had spread of a petite older lady who employed three or four employees at the time to hand make the Moravians’ famous chicken pie.

It was a super small operation. I think the lady told me that they could churn out 500 from scratch pies a day.

I could be wrong.chicken-pie-close-up

But the truth is, on the face of it all, there wasn’t anything uniquely special about her or her small chicken pie shop. I mean, the pies were delicious but there are countless of places to find a good chicken pie.

You could even go directly to the Moravians in town if you felt inclined.

However, throughout the work day, her employees were told to set aside that one pie–the one that’s crust is absolutely perfect, the filling is overfilled, and the decorative knife marks on top were precise.

As the other pies were wrapped up, boxed, labeled, and sent out to the grocery stores nearby, she would gingerly wrap up this perfect pie and stick it in the fridge. Then, she would sit at her computer and read her email.

Every day, numerous emails came in from folks who had heard of her operation and wanted to reach out.

You see, that perfect pie was meant for someone truly special.

It was meant for a family who had just lost their mother, or someone’s grandfather who was going through chemo. Perhaps it was for someone who was dealing with financial hardships.

Once she found the recipient of the day, she would place the pie in her oven at 425F and wait until it was pipping hot, delivering the pie to the nominated family that she had found in her email.

Then, without the hoopla or much fanfare, she would leave the perfect pie and go home to set her alarm clock to get up and do it all over again.

So, what does this sweet entrepreneur have to do with you or your business?


Everyone wants to be a hometown hero. They want the recognition, the party, the pats on the back.

But hometown hero status isn’t like that. It’s about putting in the work and expecting nothing in return only because you feel like giving back, you feel like helping, you feel like pulling more than your fair share.

So, what are some unique ways you can apply marketing in your hometown?

Tip #1: Truly care about every single person you meet in real life.

When you’re out at your monthly networking group or even the grocery store, you may be thinking, “Where can I plug in my business into the conversation?”

You have to stop that.

That kind of thinking is selfish. It’s the kind of thinking that equates to, “What can these people do for me?”

Instead, become a caring thought leader in discussion.

Let other people talk and rather than thinking of something to say in return, focus on them. Learn about their families, their stresses, their pains. And then think to yourself, “What can I do for this person? Can I help ease their strains, reduce their anxiety, better their lives?”

If so, then tell them of ways to help. Do not sell to them. Give to them.

The chicken pie lady could have cooked up her perfect pie and delivered it to the family for free… Or she could have sold it them door to door. But which is more memorable?

By giving away your information for free, you’re showing you care. You want to help. And you want to see their businesses grow.

People appreciate that.

Tip #2: Be positive and in the moment.

Word of mouth is one of the most common and genuine methods of marketing around. So, when you’re out and about, speaking at an engagement, or even hanging out on social media remember to always be pleasant.

As I always say,

“Never say anything that you wouldn’t want your 87-year old grandmother to hear (or see) you say.”

Same goes with speaking engagements.

When you’re in front of a crowd about to present (whether it’s a 30-second elevator pitch or an hour long presentation), be in the moment. Don’t talk about the crazy traffic you fought on your way to the venue or how tired you are since having the new baby.

Be alert. Be positive. And be aware that these folks came out potentially to meet you. And they have busy schedules too.

Tip #3: Be impressionable.

We’ve all met people who six months later, we’re telling our friends, “I know that face but I can’t remember her name.”

Now flip that around.

How many people would you guess has done the same with you? And be honest.


Chef Guy Fieri

If you can think of any situation, you’re not as impressionable as you should be.

And we’re not talking about dying your hair bright white and talking with a ton of emphasis (hey, Guy Fieri!). But be the one in the room who is confident, approachable, and most importantly, helpful.

Listen intently when others are talking. Be professional at all times. And allow the person you’re talking to, to have the mic more than you do.

People enjoy talking about themselves. People enjoy others listening to them. Become the “favorite” in the room by giving folks what they’re looking for.

And keep building those relationships.

Tip #4: Be online–locally.

Have you signed you and/or your business up with Google Places (or, more recently called Google Business)?

If not, go here and follow the directions.

It’s super quick and even more easy. If I had to guess, you’ll be done in 10 minutes… Without a degree in computers.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?

What Google Business does is it helps by creating that little map and page you see when you’re googling a nearby Chinese takeout joint… But now it’s for your business when your prospects are googling your product and service.

So often I didn’t realize someone existed because they didn’t pop up on Google when I searched for their service.

Do yourself (and your prospects) a favor. Put yourself up on Google.

(Note: this does not substitute out for a great information packed website and updates social media accounts.)

Tip #5: Network with the movers and shakers.

If you don’t know who these people are, sign up for some MeetUps (also free) and begin going to a few of your hometown’s networking groups.

By the third or fourth month, you should be well-aware of who the people-to-know are within the group.

Get to know the big influencers in your niche. Reach out to them without an ulterior motive. Ask them if there is anything, again, that you can do for them.

As you help to build the relationships with these very busy but highly noteworthy individuals, the more you try to befriend them and help them in anyway possible, the more likely they will want to help you and your business.

Plant the seeds now and reap the crops later.

People tend to hang out with people of similarity. You never know when your new found friend may be talking to their friend, also influential, about your service. If you’ve build up that relationship, your name may be the topic of discussion.

And that’s a good thing.

Tip #6: Repeat after me, “They are the most important client I’ve ever had.”

Ah, yes, referrals. Entrepreneurs love and live by them. However, it’s a rarity when someone mentions something to someone else who in turn goes out immediately and buys it.

In fact, research shows that a prospect has to come in contact with a brand up an average of seven times before being convinced to purchase.

So, what does that have to do with tip #6?

When a client is excited–and I mean, really excited–they’re going to talk about what they’re excited about… a lot.

Word will get out of how you treat your clients with respect, dignity, that you’re easy to work with and awesome at what you do.

However, if you don’t treat your client as if they are the most important client you’ve ever had, how quickly can your name be congruent with poor customer service, foul quality, and a bad business?

Quicker than you could imagine.

Doing business as if every customer is your most important isn’t far off… They very well could end up that way.

Tip #7: Ask and ye shall receive.

Ask to speak. Ask for a referral. Ask for an introduction.

Ask to be a part of a roundtable discussion.

Ask to be considered an expert at a local tradeshow in your industry.

Ask for your existing client to give your card to five people they think will truly benefit from your products or services.

Once you get into the habit of asking, even if you’re receiving a rejection, at least now you know.

And if you receive a yes, or better yet a new client, you will realize how much asking is totally worth the risk. After all, simply asking inspired a petite older woman to create a business with a soul for giving back.

You never know what asking may do for you and your business.

Now It’s Your Turn

What are some of your top secret tips you’ve used when marketing to your hometown? (We won’t tell!) Do you have any specific marketing tools you use with your business like donating or sponsorships? Let us know in the comments below.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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