As Americans, we’re proud of our independence. It prompted our ancestors to leave behind their known way of life to settle this enormous expanse of land. Independence is part of our national DNA. But when it comes to making purchase decisions, supporting the independent business sometimes takes a back seat to convenience. So if you’re an independent business owner, what can you do to persuade your community to support your shop instead of the big-box stores?
Many people probably don’t realize that by supporting local independent businesses, they’re giving back to their entire community. So it’s up to you to help them understand. How? Here are a few ideas that have worked for other independent businesses:
- Hang Your Sign – Be proud; let people know you’re the local, independent alternative. Include that message in your promotional materials. It can be as simple as a sign in the window, a paragraph on your website or a part of your voicemail message. The American Independent Business Alliance provides materials that can help you spread the word.
- Tell Them Why They Should Care – Make sure to consistently tout the fact that you’re an independent business in all your sales and marketing materials, but go one step further and communicate why that’s important to your customer. Stress that local small businesses provide local jobs and local service and add to the local economy (including charitable organizations).
- Get Involved – Nothing shows you care about your community more than participating in local charitable events. Customers like to buy from like-minded people that care just as much about the community as they do.
- Get Listed – Register your business with online small-business directories such as manta.com. In most cases, it doesn’t cost anything to create and submit a business profile. Many consumers start with this type of directory when searching online for a product or service.
- Launch a Special Event – In many cities, small businesses have banded together to create small-business weekends in which customers receive special discounts. The U.S. Small Business Administration is sponsoring a National Small Business Week on May 12-16, 2014. Learn how you can get involved.
It’s really a win-win situation: Once customers understand the value independent businesses add to a community, they’re more likely to support them. So make it a clear choice — spread the good word about your independent business.