A successful business can come from anywhere. Walmart traces its history to a small department store in Bentonville, Arkansas. In 1950, a local business man opened Walton’s 5 & 10 and didn’t expand to another city until 1962. Today, the department store chain has over 11,000 stores in 28 countries.
In 2012, a 27-year-old entrepreneur at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (the second most popular city in the US) texted a link to a dating app to 500 people, and by the end of the week, over 1,000 users had signed up for the first version of Tinder. The dating app now sees over 1 billion swipes a day.
Dating companies in small towns and big cities can grow their influence by adapting to the environments they’re in. Dating professionals should take note of the similarities and differences between big-city and small-town markets when putting together a marketing strategy. Here are our top tips on how to grow your bottom line in a small town versus a big city.
Marketing Tips for Dating Companies in Small Towns
Some hugely popular companies, including Walmart, Adidas, Glassdoor, and Lego, got their starts in small towns in the US. According to Fortune.com, “These companies leverage the benefits of small towns (low rent, cheaper employees, less competition)” to build a business model that lasts.
If you’re starting a dating site, dating coaching company, or matchmaking firm in a small town, you can follow these tips to achieve success on a local level and then work on expanding across the country.
1. Partner Up to Expand Your Network
When small businesses agree to work together, everyone wins. They can pool their resources, refer potential clients, and generally look out for each other’s interests. Cooperation makes sense when you’re a dating professional reliant on local networking and word of mouth to grow your business.
As Arlene Vasquez, CEO of the Matchmaking Institute, said, “You can’t be the only matchmaker in the world. There are plenty of singles out there, more than enough to go around, and we’re more effective at helping them when we work together.”
As a matchmaker or dating coach, you probably won’t have many local rivals to contend with, and it may be more beneficial to partner up with colleagues in the dating industry. You can work together to give your clients all the resources they need to find romance.
“Perhaps the biggest benefit of smaller towns and cities is that there’s less competition,” according to AllBusiness.com. “Fewer people means there are fewer businesses, which means there’s a better chance for you to dominate the market and carve out a niche.”
2. Use Press Releases to Get in the Local Paper
Dating professionals in a small town can garner attention and generate excitement through local press coverage. Earned media is basically free advertising, so small businesses should endeavor to make headlines by creating newsworthy events or accomplishments.
You can send out press releases to the local papers about upcoming singles events or a notable testimonial (with your clients’ blessing, of course) to get the word out about everything you’re doing. Small newspapers are always looking for good human-interest stories, so you don’t need to have an in with the editors to convince them to publish an article about you.
According to StevensonAdvertising.com, “It’s always easier to get a story in a small town news publication than a huge one based in a big city.”
3. Network at Events Around Town
A good matchmaker is always networking. You’ll find single people everywhere you go, and you have the opportunity to recruit those potential clients with a personal conversation and a business card. “I’m shameless,” said Luisa Canneto, Assistant Matchmaker for Dating Directions. “I’ll talk to people in line at Whole Foods.”
Smaller areas are easier to network in because, well, there’s less ground to cover. A large event can give you access to a significant percentage of the town’s population. These events may be few and far between, but even small towns have their annual celebrations and shindigs. You could get a booth at a county fair or hand out flyers at a farmers market.
Those face-to-face interactions will have a big impact on a small community. You can create a trustworthy reputation in a small town by being an active participant in local events.
As CEO of MyCorporation Deborah Sweeney said, “Ultimately, the most effective marketing tip is the one where you get up and go outside to meet and greet members of the community.”
Marketing Tips for Dating Companies in Big Cities
You’ll likely have more resources at your disposal in a big city versus a small town. If you run singles events, for instance, you’ll have plenty of venues and contractors to choose from. However, you’ll also face more competition. It’s easier to cater to particular demographics, but it’s harder to spread the word in such diverse and populated areas.
We have three essential tips for dating experts building a brand in a large urban setting.
1. Overcome Stiffer Competition by Differentiating Yourself
You’ll face stiff competition in a big city. Breaking into the market isn’t easy because your clients have tons of other options. You’re not the only game in town, which means you need to up your game.
Specialization is going to be key here. A distinctive message or unusual service can catch people’s attention. You almost certainly won’t be the only matchmaker or dating coach in a big city, but you could possibly be the only over-50 LGBTQ matchmaker or the only dating coach for single black professionals. You can carve out a niche by tailoring your services to specific groups in the community.
Check out the competition and see what they’re offering (and what they’re not offering), and then figure out how you’re going to stand out from the crowd and make singles pick you over everyone else.
2. Internet Ads Will Be More Effective
Online ads are only useful if the right people are seeing them. If the person looking at your ad doesn’t live in the area, it’s wasted on them. Fortunately, you can target by area, and that’s a cost-efficient way for big-city matchmakers and dating coaches to direct online users to their services. According to StevensonAdvertising, “It’s generally a lot easier to target big cities, like Seattle, than small towns.”
In a big city, you have a large pool of people to market to, so you can feel confident your internet ad will be seen by a lot of potential clients.
3. A Progressive & Inclusive Message Will Resonate in Urban Areas
It’s no secret that big cities tend to support more progressive politics. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won 88 out of the 100 biggest counties in the US (by population). Big cities also tend to have more diverse populations than other smaller cities do. According to the Census Bureau, minority groups make up a majority of the population (over 67%) in the four biggest cities in the US (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston). White people make up 61.3% of the nation’s total population, but less than 33% of NYC’s population identifies as white.
If you’re marketing dating services in a big city, you need to have an inclusive message that speaks to people from all walks of life. You might want to create tailored products for people of different orientations or ages.
Marketing Tips in Both Big Cities & Small Towns
Some marketing strategies work well in both big cities and small towns. Although these markets have many distinctive qualities, they also have some similarities that dating brands can use when expanding to cities across the country.
1. Use Social Media to Spread the Word
Social media is an effective tool no matter where you are. There are no borders here, so there’s no limit to how far your message can spread. Local matchmakers and dating coaches can go viral just as easily as anyone else. Posting on a social media platform doesn’t cost anything but time, and it’s a great way to connect with young socially active members of the community.
To quote StevensonAdvertising.com’s article: “People in small towns are just as likely to use platforms like Facebook, and may even use it more often. No matter who you’re marketing to, be on social media!”
2. Tailor Your Print, Radio & TV Ads to Your Needs
Print media may not be as popular as it used to be — but it’s hardly dead. “Print advertising doesn’t get much respect anymore,” Tim Nudd, Creative Editor of AdWeek, said. “Still, it remains a medium like no other — one that most purely distills the expression of an idea down to the writing and art direction.”
You have a lot of room for creativity in print ads, and putting an ad in a newspaper or magazine can help you target some of the most educated and affluent people in any given area.
Television and radio ads typically require more effort and capital, but they have the potential to reach more people than print ads. TV ads will also be more expensive to produce in bigger cities, but the comparatively larger audience is worth it to some companies. Sometimes big-city businesses can reduce costs by targeting commuters in nearby suburban areas or choosing to show ads during late-night hours.
Your advertising needs and goals will vary based on your budget, your target audience, and a few other factors. But there’s no quicker way to get your message across than to run a commercial or place a print ad, so it’s worth considering the options available.
3. Make Your Brand & Message Stand Out
Creating a unique brand will serve you well in both a big city and a small town. A distinctive logo or catchy message will ensure people remember who you are and what you do. You can stand out from your competition and attract business with a good branding strategy.
“We are naturally drawn to things and people that evoke emotion in us,” according to a WorkItDaily article. “Attracting people because of your external style and internal authenticity is something worth developing and refining.”
Wherever You Are, Make Your Business the Best It Can Be
Big cities and small towns have vastly different dating challenges. Singles in Los Angeles, for example, may feel burnt out after swiping through hundreds of people each week. Meanwhile, singles in Arcata, California (population 17,231), may feel frustrated in a dating desert where it’s exceptionally hard to meet new people.
Both small towners and big-city dwellers can benefit from hands-on dating services, but they will respond to different messages. Ads in a big city may want to emphasize the time-saving benefits of hiring a matchmaker, while ads in a smaller region may want to mention the networking ability of a professional dating company.
Even if you’re running a national operation, it’s helpful to start at the local level and grow your business one city at a time. Each city in the US has its own personality, and you have to carefully consider the demographics of your audience when crafting a business plan. A highly localized approach — like the one the Tinder execs took — will likely pay off in the long run. According to MarketingDive, “City-centric campaigns show higher results and are more cost-effective than broader tactics.”
Whether you’re in a small Southern town or one of the most populated cities in the country, you can use local resources and community insights to expand your company’s reach in your city and beyond.