How Small Businesses Can Be More Shop Local Friendly
Graduation season is upon us and summer shopping is in full effect, so that means that one of our favorite things is bigger than ever: shopping local.
With the advent of social media bringing businesses direct to their consumers and huge movements like American Express’ Small Business Saturday (which is not as far away as you think), choosing Missouri businesses and keeping shopping local is at the forefront of our minds. While it’s there, as an entrepreneur you want to make sure that you are doing your part to make sure your business is at the top of everyone’s shopping list.
Now with that being said, visibility does prove to be one of the greatest challenges of any small business. Visibility is increased through marketing and is how you translate your awareness efforts into real life numbers of customers interacting with and purchasing from your business. This is a fact, but marketing can be expensive for small business owners: The average small business spends 7to 8 percent of their revenue on marketing. And that’s just the basics, not including serious strategic investment.
The good news is there are several low-to-no-cost ways to amplify your business in everyone’s shop local searches. Let’s do this!
Local business? There’s an app for that.
There is an app for absolutely everything under the sun so why would local businesses be any different?
Helping with the visibility problem, both the LocalAnyDay app and website provide a directory for users based on location, showing users local businesses to shop with. They also include local deals in their search results so that users are always up to date with daily specials, sales and promotions.
The best part about the app for entrepreneurs, besides being visible to hundreds of users everyday, is that you are able to list two businesses at absolutely no cost. Businesses fill out a brief application with their location, hours, sales and images and submit it back to the app team for publishing.
While the app’s homebase is in Hawaii, Missouri’s very own Cass and Cook counties have collaborated with the app, as well as the cities of Clinton and Columbia, to list their businesses.
Don’t forget about search engines.
While we know Google Maps for its uncanny ability to operate as well...a map, it is also a digital marketing dream for businesses, big and small alike.
How you ask? There are several ways to highlight your business through the vast world of Google and the first step is to make sure that it is registered within Google’s My Business platform. When you head into Google and claim your business, you are given the opportunity to list everything that a customer needs to see: your business hours, location, images (images, images), etc., much like LocalAnyDay.
Once your business has been claimed, your listing will populate with full information if someone googles your business name. Instead of having to click outside of the search, your business will be there with all the information you’ve input ready for your potential customer.
If someone doesn’t know your business name, this still benefits you so don’t worry. Once your business is claimed and someone searches for a business like yours with keywords in their area, it will populate in their results according to their location.
To increase your chances of being higher up in that list, make sure to ask your customers and clients to rate your business on Google. More stars equals more visibility.
Set up shop at vendor events.
One of the best ways to increase your visibility is to get out and be seen in your actual community. With local events taking over Eventbrite, Facebook and other sites, there are so many opportunities for your business to become a local star.
Vending at these local events is a major way to take advantage of this low- to-no-cost marketing tool. Setting up a table or booth, you are able to speak to your community directly and introduce your business and what you offer. From there, customers begin to know your brand and look out for you at local events.
If you aren’t able to vend or your particular business isn’t suited for it (like consulting for example), still get out and network with people who are shopping local.
Put your money where your business is.
When it’s time to purchase office supplies, do you visit a big box store? Or if you purchase gifts for your staff or clients, do you head to a mall?
Try using a local candle maker instead of a larger corporate company or purchasing printer paper from a local provider. This is a great way to build brand awareness with your peers and can lead to some really great collaborations in your community.
Shopping at locally owned stores means that the money you spend stays in the community. And local businesses are more likely to purchase from other local businesses, the tax base expands and grows the very community you’re in.
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