While it's exciting to talk about growth opportunities outside of Orange County, the reality is that most companies in Orange County can achieve
all their growth aspirations locally.
You may be skeptical at this point, but let's look at some numbers to illustrate why Orange County is the envy of many counties, states, and even countries.
Why Orange County Is More Than Big Enough For Your Business
With over 3 million people, Orange County is the third-largest county in California, just behind Los Angeles County and San Diego County, and well ahead of San Francisco County and Sacramento County. In fact, Orange County is the sixth most populous county in the U.S.
A large population is a huge factor for any business, but when you add Orange County's GDP of approximately $300 Billion, you have a winning formula for any company looking to grow.
For comparison, Orange County's GPD is higher than the GDP of many countries. For example, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Portugal, and Greece. Moreover, if Orange County were a country, it would be in the world's top 50 countries (ranked by GDP).
The reason why we feel the need to list these stats is to demonstrate the potential of Orange County and eliminate the myth that you need to expand into other parts of California to grow.
For a well-run business, Orange County has enough economic activity to support double-digit growth for decades. Therefore, the market's size is often not the primary reason why many companies in Orange County are not successful or are experiencing stagnation.
Also, with a median annual income of $89,759, which is much higher than the yearly median income across the entire United States, there is no shortage of spending power.
So if the market size and the lack of buying power are not holding back many businesses in Orange County, what is?
In our experience, the lack of focus, inadequate value proposition, poor brand awareness, and no clear differentiation are the primary reasons why many businesses struggle - market size is rarely at the heart of the problem.
We would go as far as to say that for many small businesses, Orange County is too large, and they should focus on a select few cities and not the entire county.
Why would you limit your opportunity? Because being a big fish in a small pond is much better than being a small fish in a big pond.
Therefore, strive to establish your business and brand in a city (e.g., Irvine, Santa Ana, or Anaheim) before considering the entire county. Also, thinking about Los Angeles, California, or the whole United States before establishing a strong local presence is truly putting the cart before the horse.
When growing a business, laser focus is essential. For example, all your marketing and lead generation efforts should be focused on a market niche, and in most cases, that laser focus includes your geo-location.
By narrowing your market to Orange County, you are giving your business two significant advantages.
1. You Will Build Your Brand Quicker
In our experience, it takes approximately three years to establish enough brand awareness for customers to recognize your name, core competency, and how you are different from your competition. And creating this level of brand awareness across the state or multiple states is almost impossible without a large marketing budget.
Many small businesses try to position themselves as a national business without the resources to do so. Consequently, their marketing efforts are often wasted because their message/value proposition gets lost in the noise.
When building a brand, always start small, establish awareness, and only then increase your reach (and geo-location).
2. You Will Save A Lot Of Money
Digital marketing has undoubtedly made marketing more affordable, but certain marketing facts remain unchanged. Your marketing spend has a direct correlation with your target market size. The cost of targeting 1,000 customers is lower than 10,000, or 100,000, and so on.
Furthermore, the narrower the focus, the higher the ROI.
For example, focusing your marketing in Irvine will be cheaper and more effective than targeting the whole of Orange County. And targeting Orange County will be less expensive than targeting Los Angeles County.
But Our Niche Is Too Small
We often hear, "But our niche is too small, and there are not enough customers in Orange County." In most cases, this belief can quickly be abolished with market research. As we mentioned earlier, with over 3 million people and a GDP of around $300 Billion, Orange County is more than big enough for most businesses.
The issue is often not because there are not enough suitable customers, but because competition has a better brand/offering/solution/product. The temptation is to blame other factors, but our research often finds that many businesses have less than 1% of their local market share. This is not a "niche" issue, but a positioning issue.
Related: Unique Selling Proposition
Attracting Customers In Orange County
Digital marketing is an excellent option for growing your business because targeting opportunities are extensive. For example, you can target specific zip codes, income levels, interests, occupations, and a lot more.
This laser-focused marketing ensures only potential customers see your offer, promotion, product, or service. Furthermore, since most small businesses and startups don't have the resources to misuse marketing dollars, digital marketing will most likely give you the best bang for the buck, especially when trying to target a specific geo region like Orange County.
However, like any tool, you need to implement it correctly to reap the benefits. Also, to get the most out of your digital channels, you have to keep up with the latest tools and trends. For example, a vanilla website doesn't cut it anymore. To convert website visitors into leads (and customers), you have to use analytics, optimization tools, A/B testing, and personalization. And you certainly have to keep up with the latest usability trends.
The same applies to paid advertising. For example, ten years ago, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising was extremely affordable because many big brands didn't recognize how effective PPC ads are. Naturally, focusing on Orange County (only) will make your advertising more affordable, but a poorly executed ad is worthless no matter how inexpensive it is.
If you choose to focus on Orange County, ensure that all your digital channels reinforce that decision. For example, your website, landing pages, email campaigns, ads, social media, and SEO should focus on Orange County.
When we discuss long-term goals with founders and business owners, the temptation is to look outside of Orange County. However, the growth targets we discuss are often more than achievable inside Orange County.
If your business has genuinely outgrown Orange County, then expanding into other regions is undoubtedly the next step. Still, our experience shows that 3 million people and $300 Billion in GDP is more than sufficient to support exceptional business growth.
Lastly, here are a few additional reasons why Orange County is a great place to do business and why it's more than big enough to facilitate your business growth.
- Home of several Fortune 500 companies (e.g., Broadcom, Ingram, and Western Digital)
- Many international businesses reside in Orange County (e.g., Blizzard, Linksys, Quicksilver, Oakley, Toshiba, Samsung, Toyota, etc.)
- Top universities (University of California, Irvine and California State University, Fullerton)
- Tourism (e.g., Disneyland, Beach Cities, etc.)
- Sports (Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Angels, U.S. Open of Surfing, and AVP Pro Beach Volleyball)
Related: Why You Need a Growth Strategy
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