How to reach out to smaller companies that aren't based online?


My upcoming business has a side project that requires reaching out to small businesses that do not currently have an online presence. Initially I was hoping to achieve this manually by looking locally and relying on word by mouth and so on. However that doesn't prove to be a scalable module. Any ideas or tips?

Marketing Customers Promotion Small Business

asked Jun 1 '15 at 14:49
Reece Matthews
76 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

2 Answers


Here's one way:

  1. Create a database of all the local businesses you want to outreach. You could use Yelp's API, for example, to gather all this data automatically.
  2. If a business has an email address, reach out to them via email first.
  3. If they don't have an email, but have a phone number (most will), reach out via a cold call.

You can optimize steps 2 and 3 many ways. Here is something I've done in the past with a local deals business (similar to Groupon) that converted really well:

  • Create a short email template (text based, a couple of sentences at most). Track the opens. As soon as someone reads your email, call them shortly after to continue your pitch. That'll be a whole lot targeted cold calls than calling all of them. i.e. they'll have some familiarity when you call them. And you can reference the email you sent as a way to break through the initial cold call barrier.
  • A relevant question as the content of the initial email works best as they'll be more likely to respond and will have shown interest.
answered Jun 1 '15 at 17:58
Nishank Khanna
4,265 points
  • Hey Nish, thanks for the response. I've considered email marketing and looked into it briefly, although I wasn't aware about Yelp's API - thanks for that! However, about cold calling, that's something I'd like to stay away from - I think everyone can speak from experience that cold calling is a nusience and more a main than successful? – Reece Matthews 7 years ago


Hi Reece,

Interesting question. Small businesses are usually the hardest audience the target and market to. Some of the common reasons are very busy owner with hardly any time to consider a new offer from an enthusiastic entrepreneur, not very tech-savvy (average age of small business owner in the US is around 50 years old last I checked), etc.

One of the most fascinating example of small businesses growth strategies (aka hacks) is Bellycard. I recommend that you read the full case study here:

In principle, they did the leg work in their home city of Chicago, but that's not all. First they approach a set of stores that had some shoppers traffic. By employing certain methods, they managed to get the first stores' shoppers to influence other business owners to work with Belly. The reason why the shoppers were driven to spread the word was because they got something in return, they were incentivized by the value of using Belly in every store.

I'm sure you will find this use case interesting, if not relevant.
answered Jun 12 '15 at 20:28
Omer Yarkowich
71 points
  • Thanks for the reply! Interesting case study and yes, pretty relevant. – Reece Matthews 7 years ago

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