Operating in a big market is the aim for many aspiring businesses when they start out. While it’s essential to have goals to aim for, it’s also important to understand how to measure success as it may be that your original goals are not really what you want to achieve.
As your business grows and you begin to understand the most effective ways of operating, it may be that the big market you so wanted to be based in is actually not the best place for your business.
You only have to look at businesses around the world that have great success and grow into profitable and successful businesses despite not being based in the traditional big markets, such as London or New York.
But if you’re just starting out, what are some ways you can be connected to these big markets if you’re not based in them? To help answer this question, we spoke with David Robinson. His company, Robinson of England, has maintained a close connection to their clients and potential clients in London, despite the company being based well over 200 miles away. Robinson of England specialise in hard crafted Chesterfield sofas and has worked with Google and Red Bull to produce items for their head offices.
Partial physical presence
When dealing with clients in big marketplaces, businesses sometimes choose to maintain a partial physical presence either to manage these existing clients or help attract new ones. For Robinson of England, they experimented with operating a showroom in London while maintaining their manufacturing base in Newcastle, in the North East of England. They did this to help attract new clients, as they already had a well-established client base in London. By keeping the manufacturing in Newcastle, Robinson of England were able to control the costs of the more expensive side of the business, while having access to a bigger market through their showroom. This strategy can be applied to many other businesses in other industries, with smaller teams of people located in more significant markets and the main operation remaining outside.
Being accommodating to clients
All businesses must at times be accommodating to their clients, and when your business is not in their local area, this means coming up with creative solutions. After he decided to close the showroom in London, David Robinson still needed a way to show clients his products in person if they were having trouble making a decision on a style of colour for their sofa. Obviously, it’s easy to look at a photo on a computer, but like buying a car, some products you just have to see in person. Robinson of England would organise for a sofa to be transported to a client for them to look at it and help give them a better understanding of the item they would be purchasing. Being accommodating to clients who may be based in bigger markets allows your business to stay connected to them despite not being local to them.
Travel is often one of the overlooked elements of running a business, even one that does not operate in an industry where that is essential. For David Robinson, even though he runs a furniture business, he must still travel to meet with potential partners and clients. David told us that being based outside of the London market mean that before Covid, he would find himself “hopping on a train with an overnight stay almost weekly.” The reason for this is that “it’s important to be able to build and maintain face-to-face relationships with both commercial and residential clients.” This is important for any business to remember. If you want to stay connected to a bugger market, but are based outside it, then sacrifices such as travel and overnight stays will be required from time to time.
For any business in 2021, an online presence is crucial. After the 12 months we have just experienced where in-person retail took its biggest hit ever, the importance of having a fully functioning ecommerce branch to your business can’t be understated. However, even before the pandemic, Robinson of England had identified that having a strong online presence was the way forward for them and would allow them to maintain contact with their client base regardless of their location. This is a crucial aspect of running any business, identifying where your customers are coming from. There is no point in spending the money to base yourself in an expensive location such as London if most of your sales are coming from online. By working with digital partners, businesses can target their online presence to be strong in locations such as London, which can allow them to maintain a presence in the marketplace without physically being located there.
Overall, the points highlighted above will hopefully help businesses looking to connect with bigger markets but are not geographically based in them. As mentioned and demonstrated by businesses such as Robinson of England, you don’t need to be located in these markets to stay connected to them and succeed.