With products readily available on demand, it’s never been easier to get what you need, when you need it. Between online sales and same-day delivery, customers don’t really need to leave home to stock their shelves. So how do small local businesses encourage customers to reach out and support them instead of relying on super-stores? Well, here are 9 great ways to engage with your local community and entice them to shop local.

1. Explain what makes your business and service unique

It’s really important to tell the locals in your neighbourhood what you bring to the table and why you are different from the competition. Because customers are spoilt for choice, helping them buy into your brand is essential. For example if you are an eatery, maybe you offer 15-min deliveries to surrounding businesses. If this is the case, it’s important that you let local businesses know why you are special and how you can help them get on with their day.

2. Support your community

If you want community to support you, then you need to support your community too. Are there local events or initiatives in your area that you can support and use to get your brand out there at the same time? For example if your neighbourhood security company are doing a ‘meet & greet’, can you provide the coffee to passers-by in exchange for branding and including you in a mailer drop?

3. Socialize

Community is synonymous with communication and a great way to communicate is though social media. The best thing about platforms like Instagram is that they allow you to target people in your specific and immediate location, which is an amazing way to get your brand out to your local community. Once they see you in their feed, entice them to engage and #ChooseLocal.

4. Discounts, coupons and special offers

If you want to draw in your local community to sample your offering, then offer them something in exchange for going out of their comfort zones. A discount or coupon is a great way to do this. As mentioned above, social media is the ideal channel to spread the word, but it can also be done with a flyer drop on cars or a good-old sandwich board in your local centre. Once you get them through the door, you then need to take advantage of the golden opportunity to convert customers and keep them coming back.


5. Loyalty programs

This then brings us to loyalty programs. Here you track your customer’s purchase history and after a certain amount of purchases, they get something for free. This is often done in coffee shops and yields great returns. This is actually a really inexpensive way to get customers to come back. So get some cards printed, keep a hole-punch at the till, and hand them out to every customer.

6. Showcase your wares online

Most customers research products online before the buy. Now, as a small business you may not have the capacity to manage a whole online store, but that’s ok. At least show your products on your website and then direct them to your store to seal the deal. If they like your product, they will make an effort and come find you, especially if you are nearby.

7. Advocate for the environment

A major trend now is environmental advocacy where sustainability, planet health and eco-friendly behaviour are extremely topical and important. Help your customers understand that when they shop locally they are reducing the environmental impact of shipping, packaging and petrol. The positive effect just one eco-friendly customer can have over a life-time is astounding. This should be worked into your marketing strategy and shared.

8. Join the local chamber of commerce

This will give you a lot of exposure to many businesses in your area. Once in touch with like-minded small business owners you will be able to share ideas and network on how to jointly promote local shopping.

9. Focus on Gen Z consumers

Gen Z consumers are born after 1996 and include teens and young adults who by 2020 will account for 40% of all consumers. A recent Shopkick survey showed that 81% of these consumers prefer to shop in physical stores rather than online. That said, Gen Z still research online, so it’s important to make a good impression online and then live up to expectations in store. These consumers can be targeted online through geo-location and age filters.

The bottom line

By using these various strategies, you will be able to connect with your local community and prove how your business can make your local community better. When it comes to supporting local economy and community, small businesses are at the heart of this. So reach out and ask for your local customer’s support. With strategies like these in the mix, you may well get what you ask for.

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