There are some real advantages to launching a business in a smaller market. Take the province of Quebec, where most companies are required to be bilingual in French and English, and residents are eager to support homegrown brands. “They want to have local businesses succeed because many other businesses will just not consider doing business in French, so that already is a higher barrier of entry for many American or larger Canadian businesses,” co-founder and CEO of Polysleep Jeremiah Curvers says.
Jeremiah started a mattress company based in Montreal that’s now competing with the Canadian and American giants in the industry, thanks to his local sourcing and marketing strategies, which helped Polysleep capture a huge market share in the province of Quebec.
Here are the strategies Jeremiah used to create local success before expanding to a larger market, both online and in stores.
Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to Shopify Masters.
5 strategies to gain regional market share
1. Work with local retail partners
Having a physical presence is important for visibility in a small market, but that doesn’t mean you have to open your own stores. Jeremiah partnered with existing brick-and-mortar retailers to sell Polysleep mattresses. “We know we have amongst the best products, so I’m more than happy to put in a competition with other brands,” Jeremiah says.
Partnering with stores gave customers the chance to test mattresses in-person. It was also relatively affordable compared to acquiring customers online. “The narrative is not what it used to be six years ago. We don’t cut the middleman to save money anymore. We cut the middle man to pay more for Facebook and Google ads,” Jeremiah says. “Ultimately, the cost for customer acquisition is getting pretty close to having a proper brick-and-mortar store.”
2. Start referral and affiliate programs
Mattress companies don’t have a lot of repeat customers, since most people only need a new mattress every few three to 10 years. Polysleep’s growth in Quebec was in part fueled by people recommending the mattress to their families and friends. To capitalize on the word of mouth, Polysleep launched a referral program. “I would much rather give you 50 bucks [for referring a friend] than give 200 bucks to Facebook and Google,” Jeremiah says.
Some customers became so good at referring people that Polysleep was able to funnel those advocates into its affiliate program. One of their customers is an interior designer, who makes an extra $2,000 per month recommending the mattress to her clients.
3. Invest in SEO
“It’s a bit like investing for your retirement plan,” Jeremiah says. “Don’t expect short-term returns, but over a couple of years you’re gonna end up drastically improving your odds of being able to gather first-party and zero-party data if you start investing from the get-go in a great content strategy.”
Polysleep’s strategy involved creating pages that ranked for keywords tied to certain geographic locations, like “best mattress store in Laval.” From there, it expanded to making content about its products and then more general topics related to sleep.
4. Produce memorable content for your audience
No matter what your content strategy is, Jeremy cautions business owners against relying too much on AI or keyword-stuffing articles. “I would much rather have 200 people on my website that are reading content that they do appreciate and potentially subscribe to my newsletter because they see value in this content than to have 2,000 of them that just bounce after an article and will never come back to my website,” Jeremiah says.
The mattress company has experimented with some creative series showcasing the culture in Quebec, like Polysleep on the Street, where the company did man-on-the-street interviews with people during Moving Day in Montreal, and bedtime story videos hosted on YouTube. “The goal was really to humanize a brand, make people realize that we’re actually a team,” Jeremiah says.
5. Cater to your local audience
As Polysleep has expanded to the rest of Canada, Jeremiah has been cautious about oversimplifying customer segments. “There’s a bit of a trap here thinking that because you’ve got a persona and because you get a great product, it’s going to work everywhere and anywhere,” Jeremiah says. No matter which country or region you’ve launched from or found success in, make sure to tailor the marketing and outreach to the next market.
To learn more about Polylseep’s philosophies on local business success, listen to the full interview on Shopify Masters.