Can small, local, businesses survive in today’s global economy? Can the corner pizza shop with no advertising budget really compete with the Pizza Hut across the street that has a multi-million dollar TV campaign? Does the local hardware store have a chance against the Home Depot down the road?
Absolutely. In fact, in many ways right now, small businesses have an edge over large national chains. The small local guys who have figured out how to leverage those inherent advantages are thriving.
Here are 5 tactics that you can use to tip the scales in favor of your small business.
Google has made huge changes to the search results over the last few years to try to make it easier to find local businesses. What this does, is give you the exact same visibility in certain types of Google searches as a huge national chain – there is literally no difference. This is an incredible opportunity to get your business name out there, but you have to tell Google where you are for this to work.
The first step is to be sure to list your address on your website. The next step is to make sure you are listed in all of the major online directories (today’s version of the yellow pages). A huge percentage of the small businesses out there do not have accurate listings in these directories. You can check your own listings free of charge by going to http://getlisted.org.
Connecting with people face to face has always been a great way for small businesses to make valuable business connections. Can you plan an event in your community that would be interesting to potential customers? Putting together these types of events (or attending events organized by others) can be difficult for large chains to replicate and therefore a great way for you to create an advantage for yourself.
A website called Meetup.com has built a great platform that is centered on connecting people in the online world so that they can “meetup” in person at events. They have groups that have formed for just about anything you can think of and they are of course very geographically oriented. You can’t create a meetup for your company, but you can do it around a subject that is related to your company. Find a group to join or create your own to meet some like-minded people who might also be able to help you get your business to the next level.
As previously mentioned, Google has made large strides to make searches more local, which means that small business blogs are even more powerful than before. While big chains may blog, it’s hard for them to do it on a local level. If you do it, you’ll have yet another edge in the local search results because Google may be more likely to show your content to someone searching locally, than the big chain who is only publishing content on a regional or national level.
When you do publish content (whether it’s in Facebook, on your blog, or in your email newsletter), give it a local flavor. People like to read their local newspapers, not just the big national papers, because they care about what is happening in their community. Having the local scoop makes your content stand out from the crowd and it’s something that’s very difficult for the big chains to do well. Better engagement means more repeat and referral business for you!
Small business owners love other small business owners. Have you reached out to other businesses in your area to see if they want to partner with you? How about cross promoting each other? The local hair salon could give away a coupon to eat lunch at the restaurant next door while that restaurant offers a coupon to hair salon. You could agree to cross promote each other occasionally to one another’s email lists.
There are many ways that local businesses can work together to help promote each other and this is yet another area where small business owners are probably going to have an edge over the large chains.
If you’re a small business owner it can sometimes be discouraging to feel as though you’re being outmatched by larger competitors, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Leverage the areas where you have an advantage and go make your own dent in the universe!
Image credit: thefost