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Local Business Outreach

We are looking to connect with local businesses to partner with and incorporate our platform. Does anyone have a recommendation for the best type of outreach program? Cold call, email, in person, all of the above...

LevelUp seems to have accomplished a successful outreach program. I think we would do well to incorporate similar best practices.

6 Replies

Mitchell Portnoy
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Mitchell Portnoy Entrepreneur
Healthcare Information Executive
In my experience nothing can take the place of a conversation between people. Follow-up is fine by phone or e-anything, but then your prospects have a real face to connect with your offering. My 2 cents. Good luck.
Jared Hardy
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Jared Hardy Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founding Director at Data Roads Foundation
I have a similar need to contact local businesses, so I am also interested in anyone else's experiences about this.

I already frequent small local services and restaurants, so I occasionally go out of my way to attend owner-operated store fronts at odd hours when they might have more time to talk. I'm pretty sure being a paying customer before/during our conversation greases the wheels a bit, but that tactic would be very expensive to scale out. Also, not all services of interest are owner-operated, and even if they are the owner often leaves during the slower shifts.

The other approach I'm contemplating is surveying the customers of local businesses as they come out to the sidewalk, and then sharing any useful business-specific survey results with that business for free. I need to complete these surveys as part of my own customer development work, so sharing business-specific findings seems like any easy win-win (assuming I can get sufficient participants and keep them anonymous of course). Has anyone else already tried something like this?
Noah Smith
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Noah Smith Entrepreneur
Founder at OCX
The only thing that has been proven effective at scale is a full-blown sales force, which naturally only makes sense once you have a clear product-market fit and some pretty robust economics. Getting there is a classic crossing-the-chasm challenge.

To try to help -- for my own startup and others -- I started this meetup in NYC last year to bring together tech entrepreneurs tackling local problems with local business owners + managers at the progressive end of the tech adoption curve. Our next event isn't posted yet but will be in partnership with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce in a month or so. Sign up for updates:NY Tech for Local Business Meetup

Mike Winer
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Mike Winer Entrepreneur
Passionate about bringing people together to achieve personal & organizational results in mission and market
All of the above that mention talking to the business owners is right on - to a degree. You have a product to promote; they have needs to be met. Your job is to find out their needs - directly or maybe through a third party - with active listening and full engagement, not chomping at the bit to show the worth of your product. Then, if your product seems to fit their needs, you can ask for time at a SECOND meeting to show how what you have to offer addresses their situation, first summarizing their needs and secondly, especially if it increases their ROI, demonstrating the value of your product. The hardest task in marketing, is listening.
Todd Hess
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Todd Hess Entrepreneur
Expert retirement navigator, Entrepreneurial Catalyst and Advisor.
If it's to launch and sell, I'd 2nd recommendations above. If you want feedback from local businesses you can meet one-on-one with, I'd recommend setting an appointment with the leaders of local business organizations (Chambers of Commerce, Rotary, Networking Groups like BNI, etc.) Paint the picture to them and see if they would make introductions to a couple of key businesses that may be early adopters and are highly respected. Bend over backwards to make it a great experience for them and the word will spread. They may even allow you to come present to the organizations (including a roaring testimonial by your early adopters.)

Businesses in these organizations are already 'givers' and will be less likely to be 'too busy' to give you feedback.
Ryan Eley
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Ryan Eley Entrepreneur
Technical Underwriter at Boston Capital
Thank you for your helpful responses!
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