Celebrating the Small Business Community

www.jeffkorhan.com small business saturday

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday.

It’s a day that may not necessarily be on the radar of of many consumers, but it is one that is especially important for local small businesses.

Small Business Saturday is an initiative that was created to bring greater awareness to the small businesses that form the foundation of the communities in which we work and live. This day is about more than business; it’s a celebration of community. 

Local businesses are more than commercial organizations; they are your neighbors, friends, and part of the same ecosystem that supports you.

Community Conversations are Moving Online

Every business, large or small, seeks to leverage the voice of the customer. Small businesses in particular are especially sensitive to earning the loyalty and trust of each and every customer, because this “word-of-mouth advertising” is often their primary means for attracting new buyers.

Thus, the seeds of social media marketing success are practically hard-wired into DNA of every small business. The challenge for them today is learning and adapting to these new digital technologies to nurture and leverage their local relationships to build their tribe.

Nurturing customer relationships is as vital ever – only now these community conversations are happening online.

Local Experiences are Personal

When you visit local stores you can access the energy and enthusiasm of not just the staff, but other patrons too. This the magic of community that Apple amplified with their retail stores that revolutionized retail.

Apple is one of the biggest brands in the world today because it designed its stores for a personalized customer experience.

Apple used their extensive creative and financial resources to take what is best about local retail to design an experience that engages buyers that are often fanatical about the Apple brand.

Personal care is what distinguishes every local small business. Yet, it’s a quality that Apple proved any business, large or small, can use to create an experience that feels personal.

And Zappos proved personal care works to build community even when a business is not local.

Technology is Making Business more Human

It is significant to note that awareness of many initiatives like Small Business Saturday would fall short without the power of social media for leveraging the collective voice of consumers. It is ironic that technology that once created barriers between people, and especially people and companies, now brings them together.

For small business to succeed in this increasingly competitive world, they have to develop more than a brand promise. There has to be an expectation of a friendlier and personal experience. That’s one of the hallmarks of small business.

The surest means for creating this expectation is not with traditional advertising or promotions, but direct experience. This is why it is so vital for local businesses to get buyers into the store. This is something that is more readily accomplished with content marketing than traditional advertising or promotions.

When I wrote Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business, I focused on the local small businesses that I knew best, having founded and operated one myself for two-decades. The reason for this is these local, mainstream, small businesses are ideally suited for using this technology for making a difference in the communities they serve.

 Author Jeff Korhan at Anderson's Bookshop in  Naperville, IL before the local launch of Built-In Social

Author Jeff Korhan at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL before the local launch of Built-In Social

I will be delighted if you purchased a copy from your local bookstore. If you happen to be near my local community of Naperville, IL, you may be able to grab one of the autographed copies still available from my local signing event at Anderson’s Bookshop.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)

3 Hyperlocal Marketing Success Factors

While they may not be familiar with the term hyperlocal marketing, successful local businesses have learned it is essential to their continued prosperity.

Hyperlocal suggests serving a narrowly defined niche – one that is largely defined by proximity.

However, location is just one piece of the hyperlocal marketing puzzle.

This weekend I worked with local retailers from across the United States – many from small communities that do not appear on most maps.

Yet, despite the current economic conditions their retail businesses are doing quite well.

These are the 3 reasons why.

#1 – Understand Your Customer

Just because a business is local does not mean it understands the local community. For example, national chains may have brick and mortar locations in our communities, but their staff has limited historical experience with its members.

This creates opportunities for local businesses that have that information – what many refer to as local knowledge.

Golfers use the term local knowledge quite frequently, because they know how valuable it can be.

A member of a local golf club understands how greens respond to a put, how the prevailing winds will shape a shot, and how all of these factors subtly affect the game on a particular day.

True local businesses have local knowledge – they understand the subtle nuances that affect the buying behaviors of their customers.

Local knowledge can be the difference between a sale or a prospect walking out the door – possibly  forever.

#2 – Care About Your Customer

Customers quickly gravitate towards businesses that they perceive care about them. And the easiest way to create that perception is to put the customer first.

Caring about your customer is placing their needs ahead of yours, something that is counter to traditional selling.

Creating a favorable buying environment is essential for communicating that you care about your customer. It acknowledges the simple fact that you understand them.

Thus, successful hyperlocal marketing is a sequential process.

It starts with understanding your customer, and then caring enough about them to help solve their problems.

#3 – Provide Relevant Hyperlocal Solutions

Traditional marketing focuses on the needs and wants of customers. What drives needs and wants are problems.

Nobody likes to admit they have problems, but the truth is we all do. We may not be getting quality sleep because we need a better mattress. Or we may not entertain as much as we would like because we are embarrassed about our outdoor environment.

Call it what you wish, just recognize that the needs and wants of your future customers are the result of real or perceived problems.

Problems require solutions, and businesses that can effectively and appropriately respond to them will earn the business.

Your local business is ideally positioned to do exactly that. It’s the crux of hyperlocal marketing.

How do you accomplish this – with content marketing that provides relevant solutions for your local community.

It’s one thing to be local. It’s another to be important to just a few people – your local community.

That’s what your hyperlocal content marketing is all about.

Content marketing is what drives your social media marketing.

How is your business capitalizing on hyperlocal – with or without content marketing?

Leave a comment below and share this with your community using any of the share buttons below – or on the little red bar at the bottom of this page.

Until next time, Jeff

Photo Credit: reallyboring

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