Do people in your community frequently talk about your local business? What does it even take to be the type of business that everyone is talking about? The internet is here to offer you about 1000 different ways to market your biz, but when you’re in a local community, you can ditch 99% of those ways and focus on a few we’ll dive into in this post. Having a great website and strong social media are important, but what’s even more important is how you’re connecting with your community. People in local communities are constantly talking about what they’re doing tonight or this weekend or the best pizza they had with their boyfriend or the cute boho home store they visited with their mom. These conversations are happening in the workplace, out on coffee dates, at park playdates, etc. We talk about our experiences in our communities regularly which we all know as “word of mouth” marketing. It’s great because it’s free and because it usually comes from a trusted source. How frequently are you on Facebook and seeing people ask questions about the best bar, clothing store, vet, etc. in town? I see it almost daily and then dozens (typically 50+) responses. People are proud to share their opinions of their favorite local stores. The best marketing I have seen for local businesses has included a mix of three things: in-store experiences, powerful contributions to the community, and a business owner who has strong connections to their customers + mobilizes them on behalf of their brand. Let’s dive into these three areas even more.
1. In-Store Local Business ExperiencesThere are two coffee shops I visit on the regular. One (my favorite) is a little further and a little more expensive, but the baristas know me by name and remember pieces of my life that they connect with when I visit. They always say goodbye to me when I leave and make a point to engage with me on social media (not my business brand, me as a human). The other one is closer to me and a place I’ve been visiting for 10+ years, I’ve only been greeted by my first name a few times and I don’t feel connected to any individual working there. Guess what one I refer people to more often? In-store experiences are powerful and they can be those simple touches like remembering a customers’ name or remembering a previous conversation. They can also be true “experiences” like an event. For example, what if your business always offered a “Wine Down Wednesday” every third week of the month paired with a promo or collaboration with another local business? Those experiences in perpetuity will introduce you to so many more people (when promoted correctly of course) and be much more than a “shopping” experience. You’re hosting your community for a night versus keeping your door open for sales. Look around you for ideas; people are catching onto this and creating unique experiences that generate more revenue, more reach, and more impact.
2. Powerful Contributions to the CommunityWhat things do you care a lot about? Education? Veganism? Arts? It’s time to start contributing to those things in a more active, public way. I do not mean open up your cash register and float out all your dollars. You have an opportunity to use your space, your social presence, and your role as a business owner to help lift up good things happening right in your own community. Here’s an example that just popped into my mind… Our community hosts an event every year called VeganFest. If you’re passionate about veganism, you could buy five tickets to the event that you giveaway to anyone who visits your store (or opts into an email list or follows you on social, etc.) and give those tickets through a random drawing. This is an unforgettable experience your customers will now have with you, as well as a message you have sent through social media about what you stand for and how you’ve contributed. Whether you’re the drop off place for donations or the store offering tickets for the community playhouse, you have an opportunity to consistently (this is key…) share how you’re contributing to the bigger community’s success. People want to support people and businesses that are doing good things. Some business owners are active in their neighborhood, sit on boards or even chair committees for annual events on their block. It’s up to you to pick and choose how you invest in your community, but please oh please do not forget to document and share this on social. Don’t do it in quiet, the world should know how you align with your community!
3. Strong Connections to Your Customers + Mobilizing Them For Your BrandYou have the opportunity to engage with every single person you want to do business with and take the next step by creating a simple local ambassador program for them to be a part of. It takes the following:
- Knowing who your customers are
- Using social media to follow them
- Engaging with them regularly on social
- Equipping them to share about you through an ambassador program