Connecting With Your Local Community to Drive Sales

“Go local” isn’t just a eco-friendly slogan. It’s an opportunity for businesses to cater to the demands of their community, utilizing an eco-movement to brand their business and drive sales.

The one-size-fits-all advertising mentality is no longer relevant, and the “buy local” movement provides the perfect platform for paying individualized attention to your community. Customers expect to have personalized relationships with their favorite businesses—a process small businesses can take on more easily than big-box chains.

As a small business and an important part of your community, you’re perfectly poised to take advantage of this local angle. Here are five ways to cater to your local community and drive sales.

Get social with social media

Your social media efforts will not be a success if you’re pinging customers with tweets that say, “Take advantage of our 10% discount! For a limited time only.” It is not engaging or original.

There are countless resources about social media for small businesses. The bottom line is to be a you must get social.

Think about what you get out of your closest friendships:

  1. Humor
  2. Conversation
  3. Understanding
  4. Support

Show your customers that you care when they have a criticism by listening, validating their complaint, and offering either to change your approach or offer some sort of compensation. For example, if a customer complains about poor customer service, provide them with something from your business at no charge. And don’t fill your social media accounts with generic “10% discount” announcements. Ask questions, get your customers talking! The more you sound like the person who lives next door, the more your customers will want to drop by and hang out.  Not convinced? Here are six case studies showing how social media drives business.

Befriend your competitors

The competitor down the road can be your ally. When pooled together, your shared products and services can promote a far bigger vision that will get your name out in front of customers in a much more powerful way. If you run an acupuncture practice, consider teaming up with a masseuse so your clients can develop a holistic approach to preventative health. If you run a local sporting goods store, team up with your competitor to start a sports league. You can draw off of each others’ expertise and bolster your personal brands by working together. A stronger community means more exposure and better referrals.

Connect with local bloggers

Who needs the local paper these days? Journalists are solicited to on a daily basis, making it more difficult for your business to get coverage. Almost every community has a blog devoted to a topic synergistic to your business. These blogs are run by readers for readers – meaning they often have a very loyal following. Get a nod from today’s taste-makers and you’ll have eager customers lining out the door. Consider hosting contests, giving away products for reviews, and building up a solid partnership with local bloggers. Over time, their readers can become your customers.

Do your research

Market research is essential to understanding your customers. Through surveys, focus groups, in-depth case studies, and more you can target your marketing efforts to drive sales. There are even companies who provide market research assistance to small businesses, allowing them to barter for their services and save money.

If you go the survey route, it can provide secondary benefits besides just data. For example, you could ask questions like, “Were you aware of our customer referral program? Would you like to learn more?” Now, not only did you get them to fill out your survey and provide relevant data, but you have their contact information and permission to contact them regarding an opportunity that could lead them down an additional sales funnel.

Survey tip, tie a giveaway or discount into a survey to incentivize customers to fill it out.

Reach out to local cultural communities

If your business operates primarily within a Chinese community, you’ll want to launch initiatives that will target that segment. Small gestures like catering to their language or recognizing important traditions can go a long way. These outreach efforts are best paired with hyper-local customer reward and referral contests, which acknowledges their tight knit community in your neighborhood.

Adria Saracino is a blogger and outreach consultant for businesses both big and small. When not advising on the best ways to get business coverage, you can find her writing about style at her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.

Simplifyhis is an all-in-one online invoicing and web appointment scheduling tool that helps small businesses and entrepreneurs to simplify administrative tasks.

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