Sure, we’re Fairfield County locals. Most of us have grown up here, occasionally spirited away, but ultimately returned. There are some outliers (and even the one Brazilian wizkid) who give our agency a smidgeon of international flare.
That being said, we often find ourselves working on projects that require local expertise, in other cities, towns, and states. So how does a group of Connecticutians, (or Nutmeggers?) up the game, and become experts in non-native locales? Great question.
First, you need clients who believe in hiring for DNA; clients who like the work you have done elsewhere, and know they can trust you to overcome any geographic limitations on behalf of the project, and their business.
Second, you must have a passion for traveling, and exploring new places. You have to like trains, planes, hotels, and so on. You must be inherently curious, about everything, and willing to put creature comforts like your couch and a cup of tea on hold.
Third, you must have a staff that kicks real ass while you’re away; a self-starting team of motivated humans who have a “when the cat’s away, we work even harder” mentality. This is paramount.
Fourth, if you’re a parent, you need a great partner, and a handful of capable babysitters, and grandparents. It takes a village, and you cannot do your job well at a distance if the shit is hitting the fan at home.
Then it’s like being a newbie anywhere. Ask questions of existing locals, milk the actual experts for their expertise. Take notes–copious notes. Get guidebooks, if there are guidebooks to be found. Then, pound the pavement. Miles of it. Get lost. Eat the food, drink the drinks, explore the museums, read the papers (lots of them). See some concerts, and by all means, take an Uber. So many Ubers.
These guys and girls usually know all there is to know about the area. They are students and moms and cooks and artists and dads and teachers and athletes and musicians. They are usually locals of some kind, at least in our experience. They know the hot spots, the dives, the short cuts, the politics. They have their ears to the streets, to the schools, to the neighborhoods, and the key to the system. Unlock that shit, and tip well.
Once you have it dialed in, and you think you have a handle on what’s really happening, on where you’ll get the eyeballs, and the hi-fives, on how to convert the naysayers or the mildly curious into true local champions and loyalists, test your theories. And test them again.
Use social and digital, use display and traditional means, to make sure you’re walking the walk, and talking the talk. In the end, numbers tell the truth. Are you a poser, or a local? We work hard to become the latter. Real hard.
As a bonus you’ll expand your business radius, and hopefully your business. But part of the true magic is in the discovery of new places, and people, clients included. If you like what you do, who you do it with, and where, you’ll do just fine.
Get going. Get outta here. Get local.