We hear a lot about the need for consumers to support local businesses; shopping with them and purchasing from them, especially in these tough times.
My question is, what are businesses doing in local areas like small towns, communities and shopping districts to create customer loyalty to the total shopping area?
Are they working together as a group cross recommending each other and communicating with each other to create an overall outcome that will support the bottom line of all local businesses?
Are they all committed to delivering a great customer experience so that there is no reason for local customers to go somewhere else?
Are they embracing the diversity of the services or products available within their community and acknowledging that each has been created to suit the local communities tastes and buying needs?
Rather than viewing similar businesses as competition and feeling like they are having to compete against.
Small local businesses have a greater community impact than many realise, and the sum is often greater than the individual parts.
And some small towns, communities and local shopping districts do this very well.
We often hear of annual shopping district street festivals where the local merchants have come together along with the local council to not only draw customers to their area but also to create an influx of annual cashflow to all local businesses. And just as importantly, to give back to the community and those customers that regularly support them.
It doesn’t need to be that grand,
It can be as simple as thinking about how all local businesses can work together.
I understand that if you are in direct competition with another local business, this may be difficult but imagine a whole shopping district all working together on a theme like Easter or all working together on a themed promotion, how cool would that be.
And, certainly, much more cost effective as well.
Loyalty works both ways.
Being active in the community positions a business as a community partner and demonstrates to its customers that they care about the place where their employees and customers live.
Imagine over the Easter weekend a couple of people in bunny costumes offering local residents some eggs and giving out flyers that include a special offer at every store or every service in the area, simply, to celebrate Easter.
Wouldn’t you have fun? Wouldn’t the local residents have fun? Wouldn’t they feel special, being given a whole lot of information and offers that may not normally be available to them.
Think about, if you are a local businessperson and you’re trying to develop your business, how much are you working with other businesses within your local area?
Look at all the other businesses in either your town or your street what are you doing to engage them?
Some shopping districts have associations or business trading groups but generally they’re run by the more motivated retailer who is often time poor and has only managed to engage a few other participating businesses.
I’m challenging local business to really think about how to work together.
How to come together to cross recommend and how to run events to make your shopping district interesting to visit not just once, but on a regular basis and builds customer loyalty.
BIG centres run BIG campaigns. They use BIG marketing dollars to get people to come into the centre and once they’re there, will have them go to every possible store to buy what they need.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, it doesn’t need to be that grand and you do not have to spend BIG dollars,
It can be as simple as joining forces and including other community groups that would benefit from this collaboration.
When local businesses team up with community groups that are working hard to make their communities a better place, everyone wins.
With a healthy perspective and working together local businesses can allocate resources without breaking the bank, and enjoy the benefits of both a strong, positive reputation in their community and strong morale and team spirit in the workplace.
It comes down to how your community perceives the value you offer.
So, to clarify I am NOT talking about giving things away either, I believe in adding value not discounting.
In a previous article Good Profit VS Bad Profit, I referenced Dr Stephen Coveys’ Emotional Bank Account where he explains the concept of an Emotional Bank Account with a metaphor,
By proactively doing things that build trust in a relationship, one makes deposits” and he says “even the most loyal person will go once the withdrawals build up, especially when the deposits don’t”.
When your customers experience a high level of value, you can count on them to recommend your business because of the value they receive and they will be saying “It’s worth every cent’, “It’s really fantastic”.
My point is to create perceived value at a price your customers can pay!
What products or services can you apply these types of examples to, leverage and introduce to your customers and have fun doing so?
Creating an event or adding atmosphere to your shopping district is about selling a feeling and selling is all about how you make your customers feel. To read more go to Do You Know What You Are Really Selling
It is the FEELING that you are selling, not just the product or professional service.
Turn your shopping district into an entertainment hub. You need an incentive to attract customers and to spend time there.
- Celebrate themed holiday periods
- Hold community events
- Showcase local creatives – artists, writers, illustrators
- Create community promotions
Listen to my interview with Cindy and Daz on 98.7 RPP for other ideas.
And remember, as a small local business owner, the best advertisement for your business is to become involved in your community, listening to your customers and being responsive to the vibe of your community.
If I can support you in engaging other local business owners and community groups and improving your local community loyalty, then contact me to discuss.