27 Nov Local to Global: Tips for Transitioning to a Wider Audience
So you’re trying to expand your business. If things go well, there comes a time when most local small businesses try to branch out in some way, whether that is by opening new locations, expanding their online shop, or shipping to a wider geographic area. When you’re taking the scale of your company from small to large, there are many challenges and facets to consider. Expanding can be an exciting time, but also a stressful one if you do not handle it correctly. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help your growth and expansion go as smoothly as possible.
Before you Expand
1. Ensure Your Infrastructure is Ready
It’s a whole different ball game running production for a national or global audience as opposed to for a local brick and mortar location. When you go from one location to many, or from local to global shipping, you will need to make substantial upgrades to your production and shipping processes. Make sure your infrastructure is ready to handle an influx of orders, and ready to handle a wider range of more complicated orders. Do not be overconfident in what your systems can handle, because you do not want everything to come crashing down as soon as you try to expand.
2. Examine Your Branding
Ultimately, you may not need to rebrand at all, but you definitely need to take a close look at your branding before expanding. Your brand was created with a local audience in mind, so there may be aspects of the logo, colors, or branding that appeals specifically to your local audience. Do your social media pages include a nod to your location in the name or handle? Does your website make any local references that customers in other parts of the country or world would not understand? Make sure all aspects of your brand could appeal equally as much to a global audience as they do to your local one.
Even if nothing about your branding is particular to your location, this could be a good opportunity to freshen up and modernize your branding before undergoing a massive business change. Make any necessary changes BEFORE you try to expand, so that as you make the transition, your branding is already all squared away and consistent.
3. Market the Change to your Existing Base
You do not have to wait until you are completely ready to expand to let your current customers know about the impending changes. Giving them a heads up will help foster goodwill amongst loyal fans, who will then not feel blindsided by the changes when they occur. Not only that, but this is a great marketing opportunity. The customers who love your brand the most are also the ones who are probably willing to talk about your brand the most. Alerting them about an impending expansion can give these customers a chance to spread the word to their family and friends across the country (or world) about this awesome company that will soon be available to them. Then, when you do complete your transition, there will already be excitement in your new markets and hopefully the sales will roll in more quickly.
After you Expand
1. Change your Social Media Strategy for Universal Appeal
Once you have expanded your reach geographically, your social media strategy needs to reflect that. You are no longer just trying to appeal to those in your area. The language and appeals you use should reflect a global audience. If you do still have a brick and mortar location, it is fine to occasionally post about it, but do not overwhelm your feed with posts that appeal only to a small percentage of the audience you are trying to reach.
2. Don’t Neglect your Local Fan Base
On the flip side, even as you are growing, expanding, and appealing to a wider audience, you cannot neglect your loyal, local customers. It can be easy for these people to feel negatively toward the changes and expansion your brand is going through. They may have been drawn to the small business feel, or the personal interactions you offered. Ensure your local audience that none of that will change, even as you grow and expand. Continue to build in-person relationships, and offer specials deals and discounts specifically to long-time customers. These local customers deserve to know that they are still valuable and important to your company.
Growth can be daunting, but it is also exciting. Handle it correctly and it is a fantastic opportunity for your brand to achieve more than ever before. With the tips above, you should be well on your way to a smooth expansion.