by Gillian Armour
[ed. note] This week we are posting a series of steps to take when you re-locate your business.
Recently my husband’s law practice moved prompting us to relocate to our State’s Capital of Sacramento, California. Previously we both lived and worked in the Bay Area where I had an office in busy San Francisco. Moving to another demographic created a set of issues for me as an image consultant in a new marketplace and I had to adjust my consulting model. I learned a lot and want to share my experience on how to adjust a consulting model when you re-locate.
In the Bay Area my clientele included small business owners, tech executives, socialites and creatives. With this relocation my clientele changed as the demographics in the region are significantly different. I had to build a new clientele from scratch. I needed to quickly introduce myself to the local population, drum up new business, find new clients, and start networking ASAP.
This is what I learned and here are the steps I recommend to consultants considering a move to a new market:
1. Let your existing clients know you are moving and that you are still available to help them:
Many of your existing clients want to know that you will still be available to them even though you have moved. You may need to travel a bit farther to meet them and they might be willing to travel a bit further afield to meet you in your new digs. My clients were happy and supportive for my move and continue to work with me (some even choosing the virtual remote/ online options).
2. Announce your move in your blog posts and write about your observations on the new location.
I went out into the street my first week here and took photos of street style. Then I created a blog post about what I discovered. Depending on where you relocate to you may consider writing about local shops, malls or style you see around you. Making a fashion connection this way helps readers (potential clients) discover your point of view and level of expertise and signals to existing clients that you are not neglecting them and are staying in the fashion loop.
3. Change addresses on websites and social media locations:
As soon as you are ready to begin taking clients in your new location put your new address up online. Google makes it simple to register your business so new clients can find you easily by search engine. Be sure to add your new location to your web-site and contact information pages.
4. Get your marketing materials updated immediately (business cards especially):
Because I planned to network a lot it helped to have updated business cards with new addresses printed. I get my cards at Vistaprint.com
5. Join women’s networking groups:
For me joining a group was not just to get more business but to socialize and meet the movers and shakers in my new community! The process was a bit hit or miss for me – I had to test out a few networking groups before I settled on one that filled my needs. As a small business owner I wanted to network with like-minded women. I looked for groups that met my needs (similar professionals, enthusiastic business owners, successful women etc.). Unfortunately I discovered that a number of these local networking groups are filled with people desperate for business and I was solicited a LOT. I finally settled on a group that fit my bill – NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners). Now I truly feel that I am networking with like-minded business owners.
6. Next, contact professionals who do what you do (stylists, consultants, bloggers, Instagrammers etc.).
Introduce yourself, then carefully pick their brains (even if they may be your competition it’s still nice to reach out) – and invite them to your trend workshops for instance. You may even consider starting a master mind group with similar professionals to meet once a month and compare notes, tips and stories about your new market!
Announce an open house for your new studio in an ad, a blog post or on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Invite others from the local fashion and beauty communities for cocktails and mingling. (I haven’t done this yet, but it’s next on the list).
7. Send out a press release:
Telling your local market that you are becoming part of the community introduces you to the movers and shakers IF you target the correct publications. Since my target market is professionals I chose to send my release information to the business journals only. Be sure you know who your target market is before sending to the appropriate publication and editor. For example: if you are in rural North Carolina, and your target clients are stay-at-home Moms on a budget, you would send a release to the “Home, Living or Fashion” editor of your local newspaper, or local bloggers and Instagrammers attracting the same target market. For notes on how to write a one page press release click here.
8. Look for strategic partners such as hair studios, boutiques, fashion designers, bloggers and influencers who can help you grow your business:
Continue to research the local market to find ways you can be of service. In my journeys around my new town I discovered there were many “daters” in this political arena so I added workshops on how to dress for dating. I also discovered a market for international protocol and l refined my knowledge in this area to better serve this client base.
9. Contact local employee groups, job counselors, (any large group that resonates with your target market plans). Offer to be a speaker* at their local chapter/ meeting/ workshop/ employee function etc.:
For fashion, image and style consultants speaking is the best marketing tool you can employ when you are starting in a new market, or just starting your business period. People love to hear tips and tricks and words of advice. Plan to give out tip sheets that includes your contact info during your presentations or workshops. Speaking is one of the best ways to expand a business. Many employees, potential clients etc. want to know what you do and how you do it. Giving tips, advice and sharing stories brought me closer to my target market and I am now starting to get consulting work one-on-one.
*Keep your speaking time short and always charge a fee. Don’t give away your knowledge – yours has worth!
10. And then have patience:
As word of mouth gets around new clients will seek you out. Keep the momentum of building your business by cultivating quality clients, by offering excellent customer service and by following-up with personalized thank you notes!