Local businesses are slowly dying with the advent of supermarkets and chain of hypermarkets being set up around the country. These supermarkets come with a variety of services for their customers that are attractive and help increase their membership yearly. With the fad of consuming organic products and having produce that is both national and international under one roof is now easing things up for consumers.
So how do local businesses catch up to this? How do they get the requisite attention of customers and retain them? The one who stands firm in changing seasons is the one who learns to adapt himself/ her according to the same.
A good business strategy is one that does not follow a standard plan but mixes things up once they notice a change in the weather or here, a change or decline in sales and revenue. Even if your business though small, is doing well for itself, you must implement specific strategies that put you ahead of your competitors. This will help you maintain your success today as also in future.
When you are conducting business no matter the size of it, you must pay close attention to the consumers buying behaviour. A lot can be grasped from this because this will help you know what works and what doesn’t for them. This will also help you customize your strategy as per their response.
So, what kind of strategies can local business owners adopt in this fierce competitive atmosphere?
1. Set your business up for listing on Google
The key to the growth of a company is, how do you get new customers to find you? If you are an old school businessman, you will rely on the tactic of word of mouth, radio promotions, print ads or direct mailing. But recent data have brought to light that 97% of customers are now looking up for businesses online.
To go a step further, having positive reviews online helps to boom your business. 73% of customers have come to trust their local businesses because of the positive reviews they have read online. This makes it all the more vital that you have a Google listing so that customers can find you as well as the rate you. It is free of cost and makes it easy for customers to find you when they search for terms related to your business.
Your listing will have all your information such as an address, phone number, hours, directions and link to the website. You can add photos and give a better understanding of how you operate your business. Customers too, can add photos and provide reviews based on your service. A star rating is the number one factor used to determine whether they will buy from your local business.
2. Begin blogging
As we stated above, customers use the internet to look up for local store online. This shows that companies now need to understand the principles of SEO to increase their chances of getting ranked as a top result.
Roughly, 47% of clicks go to the top three positions of Google search results. Blogging can give you the necessary push you need to help in your SEO strategy. It leads to more followers, more leads, more website traffic and this, in turn, will lead to increased profits.
Updating your website with new posts means that your website will be regularly updated with fresh content and will show on top of the search engines. You can also add keywords to your posts that customers may be looking for when browsing online. And once you have a dedicated group of customers, they will be visiting your blog regularly.
3. Join a local group
The next step you must take is become a part of the local communities that you may have. Joining a local community is a great way to stay connected with the residents and other business owners. These groups may have your competitors too in them. But then that is an added reason why you should join these group to know what they are working on and how they are managing their business.
Attending meetings and events set up by these local communities helps you to expose your brand to others. A local group looks out for its members and helps to promote by supporting their work.
4. Giving back to the community
Being part of your local community means you too should be giving back the support you receive from them. You need to be working on a charity cause to give back also to the customers and people around. But do not shy away from speaking about it when you do. Customers want to hear about how you are giving back to people or the environment by supporting charitable causes.
Research has shown that 91% of people are okay with changing their brand if it means supporting one that helps people through charitable causes. Most consumers have a positive image of your company in their mind if they know you are involved in a charity that they too care about.
To know more about the charitable causes around you can take the help of your community to understand what causes you can take part in. This will help you get close with your community and will help boost your business. If you don’t know where to begin with after selecting a cause, you can make an annual contribution to the charity.
You can run a special promotion some days mentioning that specific portion of your profits will be used towards the cause you are supporting. Sometimes giving back doesn’t always refer to charity. At times you can provide free food to a graduation event or parties that are run by a school to keep their children safe and sober.
5. Starting contests
Contests are a great way to get people excited about your local business, and it garners some limelight for the same as well. However, the best way to run these contests is through doing it online. Now, its time you leverage your social media game for this strategy.
Run contests that encourage customers user-generated content. For example, ask your followers to post pictures that are related to our business. Then select a winner basis the most amount of likes the image has received.
The reason behind conducting a contest as the one mentioned above is to increase your social media presence amongst your customers. When people notice their friends and family posting pictures about your business, it encourages them to do as well. This will increase our presence and boost your business in the social media circle. Receiving exposure to this level will increase their chances of following your work as well.
6. Get yourself verified on Yelp
Apart from Google, it will be helpful if you get your profiles upon a variety of platforms. Getting your business listed on these platforms will increase its presence and provide it with exposure from all sides.
For example, you may have a Yelp profile because customers rated and reviewed your business. You must make sure that your information such as store hours, phone number, address and website is accurate on these platforms. 90% of customers have shown to make purchases in a local store after checking its reviews on Yelp.
If information like the number you have provided online turn out to be wrong and you miss out on the customer when they try to contact you or when they make a visit to your store thinking it is open, but it’s closed. All of this will be affecting your business tremendously.
So, checking and verifying information so that you don’t miss out on customers is essential for your business.
7. A customer loyalty program
If you intend to increase your sales quickly, you must set up a loyalty program for your customers. The best part about this is that you can add more money to your brand without really adding new customers. This program focuses on making your existing customers spend more money.
The loyalty program you initiate should focus on two things:
• Increasing purchase frequency
• Increasing the average purchase amount
By achieving these two, you would be able to drive your growth through your sales. 82% of customers come back to shops that provide a loyalty program to them. The loyalty program could be something as simple as a punch card. On the 10th visit by this customer, he/she gets a reward or complimentary credit to the shop.
Or you can set it up on a much larger scale by rewarding your highest spending customers by implementing a loyalty program based on different spending tiers. All this can be tracked with the help of an app, which we will be discussing in a short while.
You can try the oldest trick in the book: discounts. Every customer is price-sensitive. No matter rich or poor they will want to go to a store that provides them with the major discount.
Some store owners may be hesitant to go the discount way because it lowers the value of your brand. Plus, at your current prices, you may not yield the profits you desire. If this is the case, you might want to increase your base prices and provide discounts on the same.
This will appeal to your customers more thank you know because they want to feel like they are getting a good deal.
9. Increasing your social media presence
We spoke about creating a social media presence earlier. Let’s elaborate more on the same. You need to establish a presence on the social media platforms and then increase your reach from there. Yes, your store might be having a page on Facebook, but sadly, this is not enough. It was noted that last year, a ton of businesses have invested on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
If by any chance you are a B2B store, you also need to create a profile on LinkedIn. 43% of small businesses share content with their followers daily. Understandably, running a small business is tough. You put in long hours, and you have no more time left to give to maintain a social media profile. But keep at it, you will make it through surely.
10. Join hands with an influencer
You can work on your social media game by partnering up with an influencer. You can start this on a local level and then take it from there. Influencers have a massive following, and you can use this to steer attention towards your store.
All you need to do is pay them to promote your local business on their distribution channels to increase your reach. The best part of this strategy is that it isn’t so expensive. Each post by the influencer may hardly cost you a thousand bucks which you can also reduce by having a barter deal of sorts with them. Influencers have a very engaging relationship with their followers who trust their recommendations.
11. Customer Referral Program
Introducing a customer referral program is one of the best ways to acquire new customers without doing any work. The notion behind this strategy is to get your customers to do the heavy lifting for you.
This strategy focuses on customer retention and customer acquisition, which are the two most driving factors for a retail business. For this program to work, you must provide incentives to both parties. Reward your existing customers for each referral and new customers you must give them some incentive as well to get them through the door. Referrals, in any way, work.
12. Adding subscribers to your email list
Email marketing may not be the newest trick in the book, but it is certainly one that works. 81% of small business owners say email marketing drives customer acquisition. This strategy is a profitable one. It won’t work if you do not have the right subscribers on your list.
77% of your email ROI will come from campaigns that are targeted, segmented and triggered. Focus your efforts on getting more customers to join your list, and the rest will take care of itself if you stay on top of your campaigns.
13. Launch your mobile app
No matter what field or business you deal in, one thing is guaranteed that you have customers that make use of mobile devices. If you have the right funding, you can invest it in launching your mobile app. The reason this is an excellent strategy because the majority of a customers’ free time is surfing through apps.
Studies show that 63% of consumers prefer an app to a mobile site because the former is more convenient to use than the latter. 57% of these consumers believe it to be so because they are most easy to use than mobile sites. At the beginner level, you may consider this to be n significant move. But sometime in future, this is going to prove to be necessary.
You need to work towards launching one soon since working through an app is a personal experience. It can be customized for a customer giving your store the edge over competitors.
14. Google Alerts
Set up alerts on google in the name of your business so that every time your business is being mentioned somewhere, you will be notified of the same. Reports will be emailed to you as soon as they are published about your store or other keywords you have set alerts for.
Doing this will help you stay on top of business with the latest news- positive or negative. If a blogger negatively describes your store, you can take actions for damage control immediately than finding out about it weeks later. On the flip side, if a local news publication has mentioned you in good light, you can see that content on your website and social media channels.
15. Working on your customer service
Your local business needs to have excellent customer service. You may ask how will this help my business? Customers, nowadays, use a variety of tools and platforms to research your business. They’ll read reviews, check social media, and take advice from their friends and family. If your business provides a high quality of customer service, it will be shown in the reviews you receive. This will result in your current customers coming back for more and recommend new customers to try out your place as well.
Statistically speaking, only 33% of businesses reach the 10-year mark. The rest, fail along the way and shut shop. If you are only just about to begin your business, you need to do everything possible in your capacity to be able to stand firm for years to come. As a local business, you cannot afford to fall back on your competition.
A few local businesses that have been out there for decades may be ready for a marketing face lift since, without proper and adequate strategies, these businesses may wither away in the competitive state in 2019. It might be time to switch up your marketing strategy.