There are so many local businesses that rely solely on their storefront presence, or if they're business-to-business, on their local distribution path. This is crazy in a world that has brought us inexpensive channel development.
If you're not looking for ways to get your product or service into wider distribution, why not?
It's All in Distribution
There's a comics and game shop downstairs from my office where people make amazing miniatures and dioramas. They put them up for sale on consignment in the shop. The thing is, how much foot traffic will he get versus how much web traffic can he get? How many hours is he open versus the Web? You know the answer.
Some things are tricky to ship. If you're doing HVAC installation and maintenance, it's a little hard to sell your services all over the world. But are you doing it better than most people? Can you sell your instruction everywhere? Can you build a franchising license opportunity? Of course you can. It's all in distribution.
Build Visibility And Offer Distribution
If you're not already experimenting with Google Local and Facebook Places – and some of the other location-minded software on the Web – you're missing the chance to build up awareness to your company. Thereafter, you have to have pages that make it really clear that you ship, that you're in the business of getting your yummy cupcakes into people's hands all over the place (by the way, this is tricky and requires special packaging and premium shipping costs).
Visibility is important if you're going to expand beyond your local store. "We have a website" is not enough. Look into growing your searchability, and look also into making sure you show up nicely on a map. From there, see how you're doing with search terms on the product or service you're hoping to distribute. Remember, you're no longer just hoping to win in Birmingham, Alabama, but you're going to try and get on people's radar in Memphis and Boston. How do you do that? It involves looking closely at what you're using for search terms and building appropriate content accordingly.
Set New Goals
You have sales goals, be they for your cash register or for your agents or however you bring in your money. Move that into your web presence. Set sales targets for what you can distribute over the Web. Then, realize that you won't get those targets just because you built the pages. You have to start promoting. You have to promote into areas that don't overlap your local coverage. How? That's up to you. Maybe you can target one region at a time. Maybe you can target one kind of buyer at a time. That's for another article, methinks.
And most of all, be exploratory. Experiment. Try new things to see what you can do to grow your weblocal business elements. The rewards will show up soon enough. And you might find a whole new avenue of success from your efforts.
Chris Brogan is the New York Times bestselling author of Social Media 101, and president of New Marketing Labs. He blogs at chrisbrogan.com.