Mike Porter is director of the Master of Business Communication Program at the University of St. Thomas' Opus College of Business. He can be reached at

Ask the consultant: How do I build a strong local customer base?

  • June 17, 2012 - 11:48 AM


Question is an e-commerce site through which we sell brand-name uniforms for both the medical and restaurant industries nationally. My question is about winning the local market. It would be incredibly helpful for us to build a strong local customer base to help stabilize revenue and provide a platform to continue to expand nationally.

Unfortunately, this has proven much more difficult than I expected. Do the experts have any advice on tips to win local support?




If you want a local customer base, the first thing you need to do is create a "local" presence for your online business. That begins with some basic search-engine optimization (SEO) with the local market in mind. In doing a Google search for "scrubs Minneapolis" the first page lists seven resources -- with street addresses (after the paid ads).

You could also use some help in overall search engine marketing, since searching "scrubs apparel" delivers a number of local businesses mixed in with online retailers, but Scrubadoo is not listed on the first six pages.

It will take work, but if you truly want a local presence, continue your visits to local hospitals and the sponsored events you have already started. Plus, you may find it worthwhile to actually have a physical presence with a brick-and-mortar outlet locally. Otherwise, your customers still have to pay for shipping -- even if they live down the block.

Regardless of your strategy to market, online or traditional, in order to be successful you have to be present -- location, location, location. Make it easier to find Scrubadoo online, promote your local events to people locally who are doing searches; Google can help you with that. Keep at it, and in time your visibility will grow.

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