Working with clients in your local area is a satisfying and viable way to run your independent consultancy. It can deepen your sense of community, reduce your need to travel and allow you to dominate your local market. Knowledge of the local culture and norms can also give you an advantage over out-of-area competitors. However, as a solo you are not restricted to working local. Today, you do not have to be a large company with multiple offices to be national or even international. Technology has made the world more accessible and independent consultants can grow their practice beyond their natural geographic boundaries.
Why you should consider other areas
- Economy. A downturn in your local economy can have a significant impact on your business. Regions that are largely supported by one or two industries can have their fortunes rise and fall based on the performance of those industries. Local fires, floods and other disasters not only reap immediate havoc but can have a long term impact.
- Pricing. All markets are not created equal. You may reside in a market with low price points for your services. Working local may mean taking on a heavier client load to make a sustainable living or settling for less.
- Opportunity. If you are looking to expand into new industries or simply grow your business, broadening your geographical reach expands your choices.
Finding non-local clients
- Focus your efforts. The world may be your oyster but you can’t eat it all in one sitting! Be strategic when expanding your service area by focusing on a single market or industry. Do any of your current clients have locations in other areas? Explore expanding the services you offer to them. At the very least tap into their knowledge of other areas to plan how and where you will expand. If you are seeking to expand into a specific industry, look for markets that have a number of businesses in that industry.
- Inbound marketing. You want to ensure that you make it easy for non-local clients to find you. Update your website and social profiles to the areas that you serve. If you are focusing on a specific region, include the service area. If you are not limited to a particular region or country, make it clear that you serve clients all over the country or internationally.
- Target with content. To expand into other areas, demonstrate your credibility with content that serves their interest. You can pitch by-lined articles to industry or area publications, publish thought leadership pieces on LinkedIn or your own blog. Make sure that you write for the audience you want to serve. You can even repurpose previous articles or posts by making it specific to an area or industry.
- Collaborate. Team up with other consultants to expand outside of your local area. You can collaborate with other independent communication professionals or those in specialty areas that complement your work.
- Advertise. Reach your target area or industry with paid advertising. Use direct mail, print ads Facebook or LinkedIn to reach your desired market. Combine this with the tips included in the How to Optimize Your Cold calling guide (Pro Premium Members only).
- Network. Networking is a timeless and effective way to build business relationships. Use online strategies such as social media, groups and forums to build rapport within your targeted area or industry. Deepen those connections with a phone call or video chat. You can also network in person by attending conferences or trade shows. If you are targeting a specific area, schedule a speaking engagement or workshop and line up a series of meetings while in the area.
Given the technological advances and the comfort with remote work in the traditional sector, independent consultants can work outside of their local area with a little effort. Don’t make distance an issue for clients, by having a solid communications plan. Make sure that they know how and when you will communicate progress on projects. Schedule Skype or video calls periodically to add a more personalized touch. Pay attention to the details and deliver great service. You can prove to clients that you can get the job done whether they are across town or across the world.
Do you work with clients outside of your local area? What tips would you add? Please share in the comments!