How To Attract The Best Local Customers Now, Even If They Are Hidden

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Finding it tough getting customers or clients for your local business? Where should you even start?

While buyer personas or avatars have been the go-to strategy up until now, they have two glaring flaws: they’re mostly made up and don’t tell you what you should do next to attract customers.

I created the SCI-FI Method for this exact problem. It’s fairly simple. The end result of the method is you finding customers for your local business without the need to spend loads of money and time researching or taking wild guesses on how you can attract new customers.

It has two main parts.

The SCI-FI Method: The Fiction

Inside your business, there is a rampant fiction that you’ve helped create. This fiction is mostly due to the business owner and the people they’ve attracted to this point in time. Unsurprisingly, these tend to be people just like them.

A real-life example

Years ago, I was working with a coworking space owner on his marketing. We came up with the traditional buyer persona based upon what he knew about his best customers. It read

Buyer Persona: Remote Worker Richard

Background:

  • 4 year college-educated
  • Mid-high level designer/marketer/software
  • Slightly skews single/unmarried
  • Short stint in corporate world <2 years

Demographics:

  • Skews male, 25 to 35
  • Income: $40K to 80K

Identifiers:

  • Podcast listeners
  • Into humor writing
  • Reads Reddit
  • Up to date on current internet memes
  • DIY Attitude
  • Not into small talk, likes purposeful talk

Challenges:

  • Feeling left out, neglected
  • Working different time zones from teammates, really early mornings
  • Might be concerned about job security

How I can help:

  • Flexible scheduling, any time of day, 24/7 access
  • Provide connection to a team and community
  • Help them build network to improve security

Common Objectives:

  • Don’t want to pay monthly expenses (but companies pay for it)
  • Don’t want to deal with hassle of parking/driving
  • People want to project the image of a remote professional office

He ran a no-frills coworking space operating out of a twentieth century duplex. It had a downhome feel without any perks. The only events they had were potlucks and the owner was the kind of guy who believed McDonald’s and 7-Eleven were fine dining experiences.

This persona had been working for a long time, so it was helpful to get it on paper. However, it never seemed to help him reach many typical remote workers in the area. Something was missing.

I now believe Tony Robbins when he famously noted that the limitations of a business reflect the limitations of its owner. That is why understanding the best new customers in your area is critical to your growth; because if left unchecked, you will automatically create a business that fits your style and habits– and not that of your new customers.

Looking at the buyer persona now, I can see it was almost an identical reflection of the guy who started the business: an avid male podcast listener with a passion for thrift and fondness for tech.

The SCI-FI Method: The Science

It wasn’t until years later I would discover a set of amazing scientific tools that didn’t leave understanding potential local buyers to guesswork. The best thing is that many of these tools were free such as the ESRI Zip code Lookup tool using Tapestry Segmentation

By looking at the findings from this tool alone, I was able to discover a lifestyle group (based on psychographics) that was most aligned with the space’s work goals, based on the zip code data.

Some key findings

This lifestyle group had the following general characteristics:

  • A median age of 32.5.
  • Found social status to be very important.
  • Top earners in this group worked in computers, mathematics, finance, and management.
  • Were likely to enjoy wine bars.
  • Owned a Mac computer.
  • Shopped at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
  • Were likely into yoga and pilates.

Seeing opportunities for improvement

That said, the reason most of us go into business is to express our unique values and creativity to the world. We want to create a space of belonging for us and others that didn’t originally exist–I get that and wouldn’t recommend that this business owner compromise on his vision.

But perhaps there are new avenues and growth opportunities here he would be willing to explore — those would be great places to start.
SCI-FI Method: How To Grow Your Local Business with Local Lead Generation

In the SCI-FI Method, I recommend you take the (fictional) current customer type that you’ve created within your business, compare it to your scientific local lifestyle group, and see if there is any common ground where they might meet to create growth.

A (Current Customer) → | Growth Opportunities | ← ( Local Lifestyle Group) B

What does it look like?

Imagine Mikhail owns a hamburger shop in town, he delivers the best double bacon cheeseburgers within 35 miles, hands-down. Review sights love him. Everything seems great. The problem is that when he looks at his numbers, they seem erratic. He wants to grow but doesn’t know how.

When he looks at his current customers, they tend to be

Between the ages of 40 and 55.
Discount shoppers who adore value and his 99 cent burgers.
Workers in transportation, construction and facilities services.

Now, for the sake of simplicity, say Mikhail’s best new customer was the lifestyle group we’d mentioned before. Remember they

  • Were likely to enjoy wine bars.
  • Owned a Mac computer.
  • Shopped at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
  • Were likely into yoga and pilates.

What could Mikhail do?

He might decide to learn more about this type of person and get some groceries at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for 2 weeks. While he’s there, he could notice all the gluten-free options they have. And with this knowledge, he could offer to upcharge patrons for the option of gluten-free buns for their burgers.

Mikhail could run this small test and grow his business without turning off his current customers.

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