The internet age has made it easier than ever before for smaller, local businesses to thrive. Today, small businesses can conduct their own marketing, manage inventory easier than ever before, and even manage their own books with a wide range of easy-to-use software.
No matter what kind of business you run, however, you will most likely still be going up against bigger national competitors. Here are 3 secret weapons local businesses can use to get a leg up on national competition.
Develop a Local Network
One advantage small businesses have that national chains do not is to establish a face-to-face relationship with other local businesses. Use every opportunity you can to utilize other local businesses and send business their way as well.
If you are planning an event, have it catered by a local independent restaurant. It looks much better if your event credits a local company like Klosterman Baking Company for the bread instead of Kroger or Wonderbread.
If you need an accountant or your dry cleaning done, try and frequent local businesses. By doing your best to help other businesses thrive, you will most likely gain allies in helping your business thrive.
Use Social Media
It has probably never been cheaper or easier for local businesses to advertise and market their services, thanks to social media. Social media allows you to selectively target your ads and posts to a certain demographic or local area for a nominal fee. Where advertising used to cost thousands of dollars to run a local ad with maximum exposure, social media now gives you the opportunity to do the same thing for less than $100.
Be Active In Your Community
People don’t actually buy products from businesses, they buy them from people. There is a reason for the phrase "the face of the company." It is hard to think about Apple without thinking of Steve Jobs or Microsoft without thinking of Bill Gates.
The more active you are in your community, the more you become personally known by your community. Marketing will only take you so far, but relationships will take you as far as you want to go. Whether it’s hosting the local Girl Scout troop in front of your store or being involved with your local Chamber of Commerce, community involvement will show that you are interested in doing more than just making money and selling a product.
While giant box stores may have dominated marketplaces for more than a decade, local businesses are on the rise once again. People have discovered that they like knowing the people they are buying products and services from and want to be more than a number. Building a successful and thriving local business is more than doable today, with the right combination of hard work and business savvy. These three things can help.