As I prepare for the month ahead, my transition as a full-time wedding planner, and our move to Pittsburgh, I have decided to take some time to reflect on the past couple of years and the lessons I’ve learned on growing my business in a new city.
I’m an Ohio native, have been a Baltimore resident now for about 4 years, and will be moving to Pittsburgh, PA by the end of this month. When I launched my wedding planning business in Baltimore, I was essentially starting at ground zero in terms of my referral network. My family, majority of my friends and network were in Ohio. However, that didn’t put a road block in my business plans – it just made me think differently about how to grow my business in a new market and get my name in front of more people. By adhering to the below tips, I soon found the majority of my Baltimore clients were coming through referrals and vendor connections.
Fast forward to about 6 months ago when we started to consider the idea of moving closer to home, I began to promote my business and meet as many people as possible in Pittsburgh to set myself up for success once we decided to make the move. I took the lessons learned when launching my business in Baltimore and have applied them to my new city. It’s safe to say I feel comfortable with this transition, have clients lined up in Pittsburgh, and will continue to use these lessons for years to come when I look to expand my business.
Here are the tried and true 5 tips for growing your business in a new city.
Disclaimer: While these tips are focused on the wedding planning industry, they can be applied to a variety of businesses.
Network, network, network. The most common way I clients find my business is through a referral. If people don’t have the chance to meet you and learn about your business, how are they supposed to trust you and refer you to potential clients? Set up phone calls, coffee dates, happy hours, attend networking events or social events in the new city your trying to expand in. Make a list of your must-meet vendors and schedule times to go to their studio to check it out. In order to bring awareness to your brand and your business, you need to tell people about it. And the best way to earn trust in your business it to show people the personality behind it.
This might not be for every business, but I have found that advertising my business on local and nationally trusted wedding forums, my clients have legitimized my business and trust me as a business owner. I’ve received a handful of new clients from advertising on The Knot, and I’ve also been able to refer new clients to check out my reviews on The Knot to earn their trust.
Location tags, hash tags, meta tags, and SEO should all point towards the new city you want to expand in. In order to get new clients, you need to connect with them where they currently are. Understand who your ideal client is, be relevant in their feed, and point your social media and online presence towards that city. Some easy way to find out some popular hash tags your clients are using is by looking at some well-known vendors or competitors in the area as well as those vendors followers and find some hash tags that they’re using. You can see below that I have more Baltimore and Pittsburgh followers compared to Columbus, Ohio.
Taking tip #1 (network!) a step further by organizing styled shoots with local vendors! What better way to earn fellow entrepreneurs trust than by working together and showcasing your talents?! It’s such a fun environment to meet new vendors. I mean…. A group of people working together to create a beautiful photo shoot, building new relationships, and getting beautiful images to use for marketing and portfolio purposes once it’s all done!? You can’t beat it. And to top it all off, I bet when a potential client needs your service, you will be more likely to be recommended by someone who has seen and trusts your work.
Last but certainly not least, you can grow your business by attending trade shows and being present at local events. Bring a stack of business cards and prepare to hand them out to everyone you meet. Also – if you have a booth, it’s always nice to have freebies to giveaways or a fun raffle to collect peoples emails and provide them with a chance to win a fun gift! Trade shows will put you directly in front of your client. You’ll have a chance to interact, make a first impression, and make some wonderful connections along the way.
So there you have it, 5 tips for growing your business in a new city. If you’re currently trying to expand or have had success expanding your business in a new market – what are you finding has worked best for you!?
Xx – Alyssa
Alyssa Thomas is a Wedding and Event Planner based in Pittsburgh, PA and serving clients in Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Worldwide Destinations. Her work spans from weddings and corporate events, to meetups and intimate gatherings. Contact her today for your consultation and stop by her instagram to see some beautiful events, design work, and a peek into her personal life + traveling adventures. @alyssathomasevents
Pittsburgh Wedding Planner | Columbus Wedding Planner