In your community, there are a number of small businesses that are competing with large chains- companies with huge marketing budgets and the resources to undercut local business owners. Over half of independently owned small businesses fail or close within five years of opening. Yet, small business owners power the local economy and contribute to the community ecosystem.
Despite the competition from large retailers, small businesses are thriving and still make up 99.7% of U.S. employer firms. The cumulative impact of independently owned small businesses on the economy is impressive. Small businesses provide over 50% of jobs in the US and account for 64% of the net new jobs created between 1993 and 2011.
The positive effect of the proliferation of small business on the US economy can also be seen through the number of new jobs created by small business employers during the recent economic downturn. In the past decade, big businesses have eliminated 4 million jobs while small businesses added 8 million new jobs.
To help level the playing field for small business owners, here are our tips on how you can play a role in supporting your local economy and do your part in supporting local businesses in the community.
1. Write Online Reviews for Your Favorite Local Business
Your local business owner can’t compete with the marketing budgets of larger companies, but writing positive review for your favorite local haunts area on sites like Yelp is a great way to help the business gain exposure. Small businesses have a much smaller advertising budget and name recognition than large retail chains but that’s where review sites like Yelp can be great PR tools for business owners. Yelp reaches over 85 million people monthly and 90% of Yelp users say positive review affect their purchases.
Come up with a short list of your favorite places in your community to write reviews for. Your favorite salons, restaurants, and independent bookshops are all good starting points. Not only are you generating good PR for your favorite businesses, you’re also giving local business owners useful feedback as well as marketing content to promote. It’s often difficult for small business owners to solicit testimonials for their marketing channels but just by writing one review, you’re giving them marketing content to use for all of their marketing channels.
2. Engage with Local Businesses on Social Media
If a local business you frequent has a Facebook page, Twitter account, or is on any other social media network, connect with them through your social media accounts. Whether you’re checking into a business on social media with your phone, or “liking” their posts, engagement with a local business’s social media page will have a huge impact on their visibility. Social media platforms likes Facebook are getting saturated with paid ads and it’s becoming harder and harder for local businesses to reach their audience through the noise.
Next time you’re checking your social media news feeds, engage with your favorite small businesses. Or if you’re visiting a local business, be sure to “check-in” on Facebook or Foursquare and share with your friends.
It’s not just the business that can benefit from your engagements. You can also benefit from connecting with the businesses on social media, since you’ll be able to stay up-to-date on the latest promotions, news, and events that the business might be promoting.
3. Make Recommendations to Friends and Family
Word of mouth marketing is vital to a small business. As we pointed out earlier, small businesses don’t have large marketing budgets and much of their business comes from repeat business or from word of mouth marketing. Small business owners still prefer calls and in-person interactions as a way of getting customers and still believe that word of marketing is more valuable.
A great way to expose your friends to your favorite local businesses is to bring them there. Next time you’re setting up a lunch or meeting up with a friend for coffee, instead of meeting at a retail chain like Starbucks, choose to meet at an independently owned coffee shop or bookstore. Don’t know of any places where you’ll be meeting? Explore your options through Yelp and discover new favorites.
4. Explore Your Neighborhood
Check your email, local listings, magazines, and newspapers to find activities, deals, in your community to stay informed about new businesses that are opening or running a promotion. Local magazines are a great for finding interesting events held at local businesses and for finding a community calendar. Companies like Groupon and Amazon send out daily offers for small businesses in your neighborhood ad are a great way to discover new local businesses.
5. Shop Local
Shopping habits can be hard to break. It might be easier to grab something at the chain supermarket, hardware store, or toy store that you already know is stocked with what you’re looking for. A great way to form a habit to shop local is to allocate a percentage of your budget to be spent at local businesses. Although it may be difficult to execute this on a monthly basis, a good starting point is during the holiday season.
Like our suggestions? If you’re a small business owner, share this post to your community to inspire your audience to shop local. Do you have any other suggestions to add? Please share them with us in the comments section.
Image credite: dok 1