(This is a contributed post)
It’s not easy being a local business, though there has been a greater drive towards this type of business in recent times. Over the past couple of decades, people have gravitated towards the large corporations, who have worked hard to establish themselves as paradigms of trust and reliability. As such, local businesses need to work extra hard to win the support of the public. Fortunately, this is not impossible! As a local company, you already have advantages over the larger companies. Promoting your business is about amplifying these advantages. Below, we take a look at a few tried and tested methods that’ll ensure that people in your area know what your business is all about.
If you haven’t yet opened, then think about hosting a launch event. People in the neighbourhood will already be aware that a new business is opening it, and will eventually come to check it out for themselves, but by hosting an event, you’ll be nudging them to come check it out as soon as possible. It’s an excellent way to show off your space and the products/services you’ll be selling. It’ll be even more successful if you’re able to give away a sample of your product. Letting people try, say, a bite of a sandwich you’ll be selling will ensure they’ll come back soon, if it’s delicious, that is.
Big corporations can do good things for the world, but the truth is that the good they do is a little too remote for most people’s liking. It’s asking too much for them to deeply care about what’s going on on the other side of the world, when there are issues right at home. You can show off your community credentials by giving back to the area. This could involve sponsoring a local team, organising a cleanup event, or anything else. You’ll be doing a good thing, and also weaving your way into the fabric of the community. The people will appreciate it!
A Community Hub
You might have your core products and services, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t branch out and host some other events, too. Think of promoting your business as something of a community hub. If you have a shop, you can also look at hosting after-close events, which are free to the public. Book signing, open mic nights, community get-togethers will all help to make your business an integral part of the community.
You may do the bulk of your business in the real world, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the online world. A significant portion of customers search for a company online before visiting them in person. This is one area where one of the big corporations have levelled the playing field somewhat, too; Google now favours local results over non-location specific sites. So there’s plenty of value in putting some time and resources into your online promotion. To ensure you’re high up on the search engine results page, look at working with a company that provides digital marketing for local businesses. On your website, it’s recommended to have crucial information such as opening hours and your prices, if possible. A little bit of backstory on your ‘about us’ page will also show your customers that you love the community, too.
Solicit Feedback and Reviews
One of the strengths of people enjoying community-based businesses is that they’re usually more receptive to leaving reviews. Much more than they are faceless corporations, especially. This will work in your favour: you can ask for feedback, and then use them to promote your company. As we said earlier, people will usually search for a company online before visiting. If, when they search, they see that your Google business page is filled with 5* reviews, they’ll be even more eager to pay you a visit. It can be difficult for online-only businesses to get reviews, but you can simply ask. If they had a great experience at your business and you explain how much it would help if they could write a few lines, they’ll be happy to help you out.
Support Other Local Businesses
Local businesses are in competition with large corporations, not each other. As such, it’s a good idea to work with and promote other businesses in the area. You can do this by giving each other business (such as being a supplier and so on), and by mentioning them on your social media channels. They’ll be happy to repay the favour! And more than that, think of it this way — the more people there are visiting your downtown area, the greater the chance of them stopping by your business.
Social Media Channels
And talking of your social media channels, look at using them not only to promote your business, but to promote the local area. Here, you have the ability to offer an insight in a way that would be impossible for a larger business. Even if it’s just talking about the weather, local events, and so on, you’ll be positioning yourself as a local commentator, a pillar of the community.
The aim is to have a person visit your store just once; you want them to visit again and again. As such, it’s a good idea to offer a customer loyalty program. What form this takes will depend on the type of business you have. If you’re a cafe, it could involve giving a loyalty card that grants them a free drink after their 7th visit. If you’re not in a position to give products away, it could be simply offering a small discount. It’s a way to get your business into their minds. When they need whatever it is you’re selling, they’ll have a reason to visit you.
Customer Appreciation Day
Finally, take a look at hosting a customer appreciation day. This doesn’t have to be over the top or anything: simply opening your doors and offering a drink and a snack is a simple way to give back.