Following the success of the 2012 Olympics when the eyes of the world were on London, many overseas visitors are planning trips to the UK. So how can small UK businesses cash in on the kudos of being “made in Britain”?
- Make a stand. Country shows, festivals and exhibitions are obvious places to promote your business. Often, the cost of your pitch will include free listings in show programmes, the local press and mentions on associated websites.
- Be a past master. It doesn’t matter if your business started ten years or ten months ago, research your local history — even the building you work from — and see if parallels can be drawn with your products or services. Look at creating limited edition versions of your business offerings or special anniversary discounts.
- ‘Yōkoso’ means welcome in Japanese. A search engine optimised website has global reach so don’t alienate overseas visitors by having only English-language versions. Consider creating micro-sites targeted at particular countries, then link back to translated versions of your main site. Encourage site visitors to post their comments and recommendations.
- Raise your game for overseas visitors. Tourist boards, such as Cumbria Tourism, have run training seminars for local businesses on how to attract more visitors and offer listings on their websites, so check if your region provides something similar. You could also seek a listing on VisitBritain, a resource dedicated to attracting foreign travellers.
- Be British, 365 days a year. Look at ways to make your business multi-seasonal. Autumn and winter fairs, like the German-inspired Christmas markets, are ideal places to generate extra trade from overseas visitors.
- If you print them, they will come. Brochures, leaflets and cards can be left at bureaus in airports, seaports and major rail termini — anywhere tourists pass through or congregate. Tourist information centres, found in every major town and city in the UK, are obvious places to advertise your business’ unique British selling point.
- Should you pay commission? If your business is events based — you might run a comedy club or tour guide operation, for example — negotiate with tourist centres to promote your business in return for a commission. So long as you’re confident you’ll generate enough extra revenue from indirect sales to protect your margin, this is an effective way to piggyback Britishness off an associated business.
- A totally British affair. As a sole trader or small UK business owner it’s likely you’re already working with third parties and local associates. Create an artisan community by promoting each other in your company literature or organising joint events. Overseas visitors look for authentic British experiences, so give them that sense of home-grown industry.
- Organise an open house. If you have physical premises, an open-house day allows you to showcase your business to visitors directly. Up the entertainment factor with demonstrations and goody bags filled with treats and promotional literature. Make sure staff are fully briefed and welcome all visitors.
- Be proud of your provenance. Stating your business’ Britishness is not enough — you need to prove it. If you source your materials and services from within the UK, shout it from the rooftops.
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