5 Techniques to Attract More Local Customers

5 Techniques to Attract More Local Customers

For many small businesses like a local deli, an appliance repair service, or a dental office, one of the main goals is to get more customers in the community. There’s no point in having a website that gets the attention of people in South Africa if your shop is in a suburb of Miami, right?

So what can you do to drum up more business in the neighborhood? To increase your local customers, test out the following techniques:

1. Have a Website

Nowadays, even a local dog-walking service needs a website. How else can local customers find out about the products or services you’re offering? People like to do Google searches on everything, and you need a website for people to find you through Google.

Just make sure it works on smartphones and tablets too. It helps if its design is responsive, so your website can be viewed by a smartphone or a PC with w huge monitor.

2. Get Into Local Online Listings

You should be listed on Google My Business, though to cover all the bases you should be listed on Bing as well. Your location and a map to your place will appear for potential customers when you’re listed on these listings.

You should also try to get on Yelp and TripAdvisor where customers can get reviews as well as info on your shop. You should respond to reviews as much as you can, even with just brief “thank you” comments for positive reviews. You can also defend your brand against complaints and negative reviews, or you can always apologize and promise to improve.

3. Publicize Your Business with Your Vehicle

If you’re using a van, a truck, or something similar for your business, then it needs to feature your business brand, logo, phone number, and website address. That’s so everyone in the local community can see the advertisement of your brand every time you travel about. Even if you use a smaller vehicle, you can use decals and magnets to publicize your brand. A mobile billboard is quite effective in boosting the visibility of your brand and it doesn’t cost you a lot of money.

4. Use Social Media

Many customers of small businesses tend to spend a significant amount of time on social media, so you may as well go where the customers are. Use Facebook and Twitter, along with Instagram if your business works with visuals. You can then use your Facebook logo and your Twitter handle on your business cards, your show window, and your website and blog.

Social media helps you engage more directly with local customers, and in a way, it’s as friendly as a phone call or a face to face meeting. It’s much more personal, and that’s more effective with a local business.

5. Use Online Ads

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all offer ads to feature your business. In Facebook, they can show your ad whenever people are close to your place of business. You can also create an ad right on your Facebook page.

All these methods work, and in a few months’ time, you should see some improvement in your local customer numbers after implementing these techniques.

LA Startups Crew
Los Angeles Startups
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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LA Startups Crew
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

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5 Technology Trends Startup Should Follow Right Now

5 Technology Trends Startups Should Follow Right Now

Be current with today’s technology trends if you want to get ahead (or even just keep up) with your competitors. Here are the most important tech trends for 2019.

Technology trends come and go, depending on the current landscape of the business world. It’s best if you can come in on these trends to get ahead of your competitors so that you can reap the benefits. If you’re lagging behind, you better catch on quick to at least keep up.

So which tech trends are important? For 2019, these are the trends to note:

1 Using Facebook Messenger for Marketing

For years now we’ve heard how sooner or later Facebook will no longer be popular. Yet this behemoth of a website still draws in 1.3 billion users a month. That’s the kind of audience size no business can ignore, which is why it’s crucial to do your marketing on this platform.

Then there’s Messenger, which is a handy tool that can do a lot of stuff for you. It can boost brand awareness, enhance the shopping experience, and demonstrate that you actually care about customers. One great example: this can help resolve various customer complaints and questions in less a minute on average.

2 Using Social Media as a Retail Platform

A lot of companies have already started using social media for marketing by engaging with customers directly. Of course, it occurred to someone (to an increasing number of companies, in fact) that you can also use this platform to engage with customers by selling to them directly. It’s a pretty logical extension of the principle.

Right now a number of social media platforms are doing their bit by making it easier for companies to sell their wares directly. Instagram has the Stories platform, while you have the Shoppable Snap Ads on Snapchat.

3 Optimize for Voice Search

More and more people aren’t typing in the words in the Google search box. They’re now just using voice search. A lot of households now also have auto assistants like Alexa and Siri.

These people who use voice search also use a much different set of keywords. They tend to ask complete questions, so you better optimize your website to match those likely questions.

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Ready to ride, #CES2019? Just say #HeyGoogle.

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4 Assist in Paying Employees’ Student Loans

This is a rather innovative way to attract and retain top talent, especially tech talent. There are no repayment providers that enable employers to provide assistance to their employees when they’re paying off their college debts.

5 Use Square to Offer Customer Financing for Purchases

Square is great. It became popular among many small business owners when it first enabled formerly “cash only” small businesses to finally take customer credit cards so these businesses won’t miss out on making a sale.

Now, Square has come up with its Installments service. This time, Square acts as a middleman between merchants and customers, so that customers can buy items worth $250 to $10,000. It’s like Square is the credit card company, and customers pay Square back through fixed monthly installments for 3 to 12 months. The APR varies, from zero up to 24%. It’s available in 22 states, but this number should grow soon.

Also, check out these 6 Easy Steps to Optimizing Your Voice Search – And Why It’s Important

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
×
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

The Best Apps for LA Residents

The Best Apps for LA Residents

Everyone has a smartphone these days, and there are plenty of apps you can download and use to make your life easier and less boring. If you’re a resident of Los Angeles, you can also find some extremely useful apps that can make life in LA just a tad less intimidating.

The more obvious apps you need to get include Uber, Waze, and Google Maps. You probably have these apps already, and if you don’t you better get them now. After downloading these apps, you can then get the following:

Roaming Hunger

If you’re a fan of food trucks, then you need this app on your smartphone. Roaming Hunger can help you find the food trucks close you where you are. You can find the schedules for these trucks, plus you get menu information and reviews of the various food trucks as well. Download iOS

The Infatuation

This is the grandmother of all LA restaurant apps. It covers just about every restaurant in Los Angeles, and no other app is as comprehensive as this one. You get reviews for each restaurant, along with ratings, links to the menus, and even photos of the food. You also get maps to the restaurants too. Even the design of the app is undeniably elegant, and it’s a pleasure to use. If you have a bunch of friends trying to decide where to eat, this app can really help you guys out. Download iOS

Polis Assist

It’s long been known that you can’t live in LA without a car. But that means parking can be a headache for you. After all, LA does have some rather weird parking signs in so many places.

But you can download Polis Assist, and you get a lot of help. This app can tell you the times when you can or cannot park in certain LA streets, as sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason for the schedule. This can save you a lot of parking tickets, plus the app can even tell you how much the parking meters cost in the various areas. Download iOS

ParkMe

Here’s another parking app, and it’s for those who are tired of planning meticulous routes through the city only to spend half an hour looking for the most affordable parking option.

ParkMe shows you all the different parking lots in LA on a map. You’ll know how much each of these parking lots will cost you and whether they accept credit cards. The app even tells you how full the parking lots are. You can find out when they open and at what time they close, or if they have covered parking. You can even use the app to pay in advance in some cases. Download iOS

Our Malibu Beaches

One of the perks of living in LA is that you get to visit Malibu. That’s an area encompassing 21 miles of terrific beaches. These are actually open to the public according to the California Coastal Act, even if the entitled homeowners in the area put in gates and post security guards. Some of these people even put up No Parking signs!

These homeowners can make it hard for you to get to Malibu, but the Our Malibu Beaches app can help you navigate around these obstacles. It’s designed by environmental activist Jenny Price, and it shows info on 43 beaches in Malibu. You get to find out how to get to the beach you want, how you can get in, and where you can park. It even shows you all the illegal signs you may encounter and safely ignore. In addition, the helpful info includes tips on where you can put your blanket and where the bathrooms are. You even get a nice history of the beach. Download iOS

5 Every Day

Are you feeling bored with no exciting idea of what to do while in LA? Download this extremely minimalist app that will give you suggestions—5 of them—so that you can explore LA and find a bit of fun and excitement. These suggestions all come from longtime LA residents who love the city and want you to love it too. Download iOS

Modern Hiker

This is the app for LA hiking, even if the website is a bit buggy. The mobile app version is terrific though, and you can use the app to find great hiking paths. You can also use the app to make sure you’re keeping to the right trail so that you don’t get lost. Website

Taco Locator

Do you like tacos? Who doesn’t? This app shows support for your taco fetish by finding the taco places nearest to where you are, along with photos and reviews. It’s a simple app with a simple function—finding the tacos! Download iOS

Ecology Center’s Farmer Market Finder

Are you looking for a farmer’s market near you? Visit this website (the mobile version), and you get a map to all the farmer’s markets in LA. You also get a schedule as to when they’re open. It’s technically not an app at all, but then it’s super-useful for those who want fresh ingredients for home cooking. Website

MyLA 311

This is the official app of LA, and surprisingly it doesn’t suck at all. This app lets you do various stuff, like pay your DWP bill and request removal for graffiti or bulky items. The app also lets you report a sidewalk repair problem or a pothole, and homeless encampments too.

Of course, if you’re a cynical fellow you may think that this is just an app for show and the officials won’t actually do anything. But astonishingly, these officials actually address most of the problems reported here. When you fill out a report about a problem, you get a ticket number and even an email when the city has dealt with the problem. Download iOS

To be fair, there are lots of apps available for LA residents. But many of them are embarrassingly useless and terrible. Try out these apps instead, and you may find LA life much easier and more to your liking!

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
×
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

A 30-Point Checklist for Your Startup

A 30-Point Checklist for Your Startup

Do you want to make sure your new startup succeeds? Here’s a nice list of what you have to do for your startup.

Everybody seems wants to do a startup these days. But before you’re dazzled by the prospects of billions of dollars, here’s a list of what you really have to do first:

  1. Find out if your business is actually viable. It’s not enough to say that you’d buy something you offer. You have to determine with utmost honesty if you’ll have enough customers to actually make a profit.
  2. Come up with a business plan. This will help guide your path. Make sure you have financial projections in there so you know if you’re still in the right path.
  3. Deal with the financing. Figure out how much money you need to get your business started. Then see where you can get that money.
  4. Pick your business name. It should be original and memorable.
  5. Get your family to support you. It’s going to be hard enough to start a business, and it’s harder when your family thinks it’s going to fail.
  6. Set up your legal structure. You may need a lawyer for this. Incorporating your business is essential, so you can protect your personal assets.
  7. Apply for an Employer Identification Number. Don’t worry; EIN numbers are free. This number will be needed when you incorporate or open a bank account solely for your business. You can also use this in lieu of your social security number.
  8. Apply for a business license. Check with the SBA for what to do.
  9. Open a business bank account. You ought to separate your business and personal finances ASAP.
  10. Choose an accounting program. You don’t want your books to be a mess.
  11. Register a domain name for your business. Make sure it’s a real commercial domain name. A website with free hosting looks to amateurish.
  12. Start building your website. Nowadays, not having a website for your business is suspicious.
  13. Set up your social media profiles. You need to reserve your brand ASAP. You also get ready to market on these social media channels later on.
  14. Begin generating revenue immediately. Don’t wait until things are perfect. You’ll need that revenue to add to your financing.
  15. Determine if you need an actual office. If you can do everything online, then you can use your money for other expenses as you hold off getting an office. But you’ll need an office if you expect customers to actually meet with you.
  16. Get some business cards. They’re nice and handy marketing materials, and they’re helpful for networking.
  17. Define the responsibilities of all cofounders. These should be in writing, so there are no disagreements as to who has to do what as time passes.

After your launch, make sure you then do these things:

  1. Access free advice. Consult with friends who’ve started their own businesses, check with the local SBA, and find other online resources.
  2. Find the right business apps. These can help while you’re on the go.
  3. See if you need insurance. Your business may need health insurance, workers’ comp, or liability insurance.
  4. Hire an employee. Sooner or later, you’ll find that you can’t do everything yourself if you want your business to grow.
  5. Set up your source of inventory. You may also need suppliers and service providers.
  6. Get legal advice on patents and trademarks. Your lawyer can again definitely give good advice on this topic.
  7. Enhance your network. Tell your family and friends about your business. This doesn’t mean you nag them into buying your products. But they can introduce you to people and they can recommend your business to their own friends.
  8. Focus on making sales and attracting customers. Hold off on chasing business partnerships in the meantime.
  9. Practice your elevator pitch. You need to be persuasive when you encounter financiers, potential customers, and new hires.
  10. Back up your IT. You need to protect your sensitive information contained on your computers.
  11. Consider a salesperson. You may be the head salesperson of your startup at first, but you need someone to focus on day-to-day sales while you concentrate on other aspects.
  12. Pay attention to customer feedback. What your customers have to say can help improve your products and your approach.
  13. Try to find a mentor. Find someone who has already succeeded in your niche to help you out. Their advice can be tremendously helpful.

You may also like this list of 21 Excellent Productivity Apps

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
×
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

Brands Are Built With These Four Components

Brands Are Built With These Four Components

We could really run the gamut when it comes to branding. There are a million big pictures and small details to consider. So much so that we’re often frozen-intimidated as to how or where to start when we’re building a brand.

But, before we get into that, let’s back it up a bit.

  • Brands. What am I talking about?
  • Are you ready for the answer?
  • Anything. Anything and everything.  

Yes, anything and everything is a brand and can BE a brand. That startup venture where you’ve raised $100,000? Brand. That startup venture that’s raised zilch? Brand. That company that’s been around for 100 years? That idea you had on your morning run? Brand. You? Brand.

They’re all brands. Because they’re all things we want to be a part off of things and/or we want others to be a part of with us.

Which is why, when we’re talking about branding anything, it really comes down to these four components.

Language

Imagery

Experiences

Humans

When starting to build these or even build some thoughts about what they mean in the context of your idea, company, startup, you, it’s best to start with some quick questions. I call these elevator questions. Because, just like your elevator pitch, I want you to hear this question, and trust your gut; what’s your answer to these q’s in the time it takes you to ride the elevator to your destination. (Life hint: This is really about what your gut is telling you.)

1 Language

What keywords, phrases, taglines, copy do you want someone else to read, feel, experience when they read your website, sales brochures, or social media?

2 Imagery

What’s your photographic style? Airy, dream, soft, cozy? Bold and bright with sharp lines? This should be more about vibe – what do your brand’s pictures, graphics, fonts, images feel like?

3 Experiences

What’s it like to experience – be with, talk to, partner with – you and your brand? Is the experience personal and unique? Does it make someone else feel special? Is it easy and fun?

4 Humans

Who’s on your team and who are customers interacting with? Are your team members in-line with you and how you want to run this business? Are they responsible, reliable, fun, and easy to work with? Do they make your life easier?

An easy next step you can do between conference calls today: Take 30 minutes uninterrupted to think through these q’s or write down what might have occurred to you if you did, in fact, think these through on the elevator. Make some quick notes to yourself with answers to your q’s; also, don’t ever be afraid to talk through these q’s WITH your team. They might see things or experience things differently, and their two-cents can make this process more efficient – and more fun. (Who’s ever going to argue with that?)

Now, I want to harken back to something I mentioned maybe 30 seconds ago – what your gut is telling you. This is clutch. Because the day we start making decisions and building brands that contradict our gut instinct, we’re building something that’s not true or authentic. And people always want to be a part of something that’s true or authentic. People can smell that out, you know? You do; don’t you think your followers – or prospective followers – will, too?

Also, remember – branding is meant to be an inspiring conversation you look forward to; if it’s not, there might be something deeper going on in the business. And this just might be the time to think through that, too.

Toth + Fay recently launched an online academy – The School of Brand Confidence – that will walk you through branding basics – from copywriting to visual strategy to believing in yourself – to support your brand building. Learn more about it here.

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How did a blonde from Pittsburgh + a brunette from the Carolinas meet and create a business together? 🤔 Short+sweet version : Meg joined @hyggeclt the first week it opened back in November 2015 when it was literally just @garretttichy sitting at a card table. (Literally. 😂) Two years later, in walked Julia who wanted to see what the co working buzz was about. 🙃 In 2017, they teamed up to write about and photograph members of the Hygge community that year; now – they’ve written close to 90. When they reach 100, they think it’s fair to ask for a cake (@SuarezBakery, Garrett.) 👯‍♀️ After partnering together through different projects with their own clients and teaching four successful in person branding workshops, they decided to BRAND themselves and create @tothandfay. 💛 So needless to say, the first handshake and collaboration would’ve probably never happened if it wasn’t for @hyggeclt and for that they are grateful 💛

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You may also like: How to maximize your digital marketing budget in 2019

Meg Seitz
Contributor
toth shop, inc.
Meg Seitz is the Founder and Managing Creative Partner of toth shop, a Charlotte-based agency with one goal: Elevate your brand’s content through powerful writing, creativity, and strategy. She utilizes a unique skill set that is a fusion of her English major and MBA, brand strategist role and teaching experience, writing philosophy and hybrid thinking approach. As well, she serves as an Adjunct Professor with Queens University’s Vandiver Center for Career Development and Founding Partner of the educational platform and children’s book series, “Bea is for Business” designed to teach children ages 5-9 business principles.
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Meg Seitz
toth shop, inc.
Meg Seitz is the Founder and Managing Creative Partner of toth shop, a Charlotte-based agency with one goal: Elevate your brand’s content through powerful writing, creativity, and strategy. She utilizes a unique skill set that is a fusion of her English major and MBA, brand strategist role and teaching experience, writing philosophy and hybrid thinking approach. As well, she serves as an Adjunct Professor with Queens University’s Vandiver Center for Career Development and Founding Partner of the educational platform and children’s book series, “Bea is for Business” designed to teach children ages 5-9 business principles.

Blockchain: Trust Is Not A Binary Option

Blockchain: Trust Is Not A Binary Option

Trust doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition when it comes to Blockchain

Blockchain’s primary value proposition is decentralization, the idea that the “truth” can be validated without 3rd party intervention in a trustless environment.  As technology has proliferated over the last several years, we have seen the infrastructure incorporate many different types of protocols:

  • Public  – Fully open blockchains with no barrier to participating (eg, Bitcoin, Ethereum)
  • Permission – Private blockchains where a central entity controls access (eg, Orderers in Hyperledger Fabric)
  • Federated – A consortium of entities controlling the blockchain (R3 comes to mind)

Each of these options has a different take on “trust.”  There are some in the crypto space who feel the only groundbreaking solutions are the public, or “permissionless,” solutions.  Their argument is that a protocol is only decentralized when it is fully public, and only then can it reach the full potential of the blockchain.

It’s a fair point, to be sure.  How can you be decentralized if one or more entities are entrusted control access to the blockchain?  However, it occurs to me that this is a very binary view of trust – in reality, trust is more nuanced and multi-layered, like a set of qubits more than a simple 0/1 representation.

Every single day we maintain simultaneous levels of trust at the same time.  I trust my wife implicitly (I hope that is wise), while I have much less trust in the Lakers’ ability to win a title without LeBron.   I have varying degrees of trust in my employees based on past performance, while I have no trust in the cars speeding along my neighborhood street when I walk the kids to school.

Our entire day is defined by a cascading array of trust, depending on our situation.  We understand and accept this because trust is a tool we use to maximize our benefit in specific situations.  I’m not going into a conversation with my wife about whether to have a 4th child (spoiler alert – not happening) from a lack of trust, because the conversation would be utterly pointless.  Conversely, I’m not going into a startup pitch from a place of trust, because it would eliminate the healthy skepticism I’ll need to evaluate the opportunity.

Why wouldn’t the same concept apply to blockchain?  Does every system need to be fully permissionless to add value?  The security and decentralized nature of Bitcoin works great for payments between people who don’t know each other, but in certain environments, organizations can still benefit from blockchain with a degree of centralization, provided there is a healthy level of trust.  For a tight supply chain of organizations with the right incentives to work together, a federated or permission solution would do just fine.

Ripple uses roles to establish specific participants to act as transaction validators

I’ve heard the argument that blockchain technology isn’t needed in situations where a centralized approach is acceptable – a central database would do just fine.  Sure it may be fine, but why not use blockchain when the technology provides other value propositions out of the box – namely, transparency and immutability?

My point is this: because trust is a multi-layered concept in our daily lives, and blockchain can handle trust in many different ways, we should embrace its implementation to support more than just the no-trust situations.  Let’s not limit blockchain’s potential while we still shaping this exciting new technology.

Is Blockchain Truly Decentralized?

Chad Hahn
Contributor
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.
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Chad Hahn
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.