As an independent business owner, you have to do everything in your power, and then some, to help your business compete in a world where easily-accessible chains are on every corner in nearly every city throughout the U.S.
And you might think you’re already doing all that you can, but… are you really? We’re betting there are three really crucial steps you might have overlooked that could help further your business this year, and well beyond.
Take a look at the steps below and make sure you put them into your marketing plan today because independent business owners deserve to be seen, heard, and making sales all year long!
1. Get Extroverted
If you feel most at ease at home with a good book, it’s time to break out of that shell. As a small business owner, you’ve probably already realized the power of networking. But connecting with your community on a personal level is worth so much more.
Get a booth at farmer’s markets, seasonal events, and any other festival in your area where local businesses and the community intermingle.
Selling your items at marketplaces like these makes the statement that you are independent and you are a part of the community. (And, hey, you can still read that book when you get home!)
2. Talk Their Ears Off
One of the best ways to jump on the local first bandwagon is simply to highlight the fact that your business is locally owned, independent, and an integral part of the community.
Basically, if you fit this bill, you’ve got to shout about it. How often do you discuss the fact that you’re a small business owner in a sea of corporate chains? Or what about the fact that you and your fellow independent business owners are working together to change the landscape of the local shopping community?
Let your customers know how important it is to support the local economy, and what your role is in it. Whether you include it in your blog, monthly email blasts, or simply in your regular conversations with customers in-store, never stop touting the message of what it means to support local.
3. Give A Little
If you want your customers to care, you have to show them that you care too. When you need work contracted out, go through a local supplier. When a local event needs a business sponsor, volunteer.
However you can show your support for the local community, do so, and they’ll return the favor. Local Michigan business owner Chris Lampen-Crowell, co-owner of Gazelle Sports, sponsors local ‘fun runs’ regularly in an effort to stay connected to the community, and he raises awareness about his own business in the process.
And of course, join a local business association in your area.
“Being part of Local First connects me and our employees to other people that care about West Michigan and our local economy,” said Lampen-Crowell.
The Shop Local Movement Is Growing
When you follow the above steps, you’ll be doing your part to get your business as much exposure as possible, while furthering the shop local movement.
According to a recent article by CNN Money, local business associations are picking up steam and getting noticed. (Which is a great thing for all independent business owners since they exist to keep local businesses thriving.)
In fact, CNN states that more than 150 local business associations now exist across the country and are spreading the message of shopping local out into the public. And as it turns out, most consumers care deeply about their local communities and economy.
Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, says that even during the recession, many consumers made the conscious effort to spend at locally owned businesses.
This shift to a local first mindset is fantastic news for small business owners, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be doing your part to help it grow even further.
When you think about it, consumers who frequent local establishment aren’t your average consumers. From unique products and excellent customer service, to the knowledge that their purchase will reverberate through the local economy in innumerable ways, there are many reasons that motivate shoppers to go local.
So take the time to relate to them, and share your story of being an independent business owner every chance you get to give your business more than a fighting chance at staying profitable for many more years to come.
Independent business owners: How will you further your success this year?