How To Thrive With #SupportLocal
We know, we know. 2020 (and 2021, and 2022…) had some ups and downs. But there are a few benefits that emerged from the whole, ahem, situation – such as more potential for working from home, an accelerated transition to and appreciation of digital capabilities, and a greater awareness of important social issues. For local entrepreneurs, this went a step further still: an increased tide of support for small businesses and local shops.
The Rise of #SupportLocal
As Canada entered pandemic lockdowns in March 2020 and big-box stores struggled with shortages, a movement started to circulate online. Rather than giving money to the big companies that could weather a shutdown, people were seeking out and supporting smaller mom-and-pop local businesses. Hashtags like #SupportLocal took off. By April, the search term “support small business” was surging in popularity and people were finding new hidden gems and favorites, delivered with a touch of personalized service.
As a result, many communities, businesses, and organizations launched social media and digital campaigns to capitalize on this wave of support. They pointed to the huge profits of giants like Wal-Mart and Amazon, who saw a 37% increase in profits by Q3 of 2020 even as hundreds of small businesses closed. Public sentiment redirected toward the underdogs that needed it the most – and many of them had to quickly change tactics, learn new technology, create new offerings, and solidify the strong community connections that make all the difference.
Finding The Best Local Shops
So what can you do to find the best local shops your community has to offer? A good start is to get an app like Shop, which scans Shopify-enabled retailers to match you with ones nearby.
If you’re unable to walk in or take advantage of services during ongoing restrictions, another excellent alternative is to buy gift cards. These make great gifts for others, or they’re simply a good way to help out your neighbours while investing in the future of your community. With all of the differing laws and regulations in place at the moment, many small businesses also have promotions or other enticing deals on these cards, or other items and services. Ask your friends, family, coworkers, and online communities to see if they have any recommendations, too.
How to Attract Local Shoppers
Are you a small business owner? Wondering how you can get more people to focus their attention on you? Here’s a quick list of what you need to do to boost your profile.
1. An online store is a must.
Whether for products or services, B2B or B2C, potential customers will want to buy online. Having a web store is one of the most effective ways to capitalize on the momentum of changing consumer behaviour. If you don’t have one set up already, that should be addressed first. Platforms like Shopify are excellent for this, focusing on local businesses with an easy learning curve as you get started.
2. Stay relevant and flexible.
What worked yesterday for marketing might not work today or tomorrow. Bare-minimum add-ons like promotions, BOGO deals, and free delivery are good, but not as good as being creative with fresh, new enticements.
Keep up with trends and be ready to try something new if you have to. If you can generate interest in an authentic way, you’ve got yourself a long-term winning strategy.
3. Reach audiences where they are.
Get on social media and get out in the community. Find out where your best potential customers will be, and reach them with a good digital strategy – one that maximizes traffic with SEO, digital advertising, and email marketing. This is the most effective method of getting new business, but it involves using a lot of data to your advantage. So…
4. Use data to your advantage!
Understanding the specific demographics of your best customers can be done in great detail with data analytics and tools. You can know who clicks on your ads, who opens your e-blasts, who has browsed your online store, and much more. It can take some time to set up, but the insights really pay off more than almost anything else.
5. Be proactive in the community.
Your customers are – literally – your friends and neighbours, so get out there and make some new connections. Support local teams and businesses, show what your values are, and make yourself known. Word of mouth means a lot in a community, and laying that foundation of goodwill can make all the difference.
Things are changing fast out there, and making sense of it takes more resources than usual. If you find yourself struggling to find the best way forward, reach out and let us know how we can help!