Small business owners have more to contend with than just obtaining working capital. Between major corporate brands and online retailers, it can be that much harder to get a leg up over the competition.
Fortunately, one recent trend is working in the favor of small business owners: shopping locally.
More and more people have begun to realize that shopping at local small businesses benefits their communities. Not only does it create local jobs, it can often help consumers save money and reduce environmental impact.
Many people also turn to local businesses for the special customer care they offer. After all, talking with your neighbor is usually preferable to dealing with a vast, faceless company.
Small business owners should take advantage of this movement and capitalize by creating a shop-local campaign in their area.
Shop-local campaigns work
According to data from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, shop-local campaigns resulted in revenue growth of 5.3 percent on average for businesses in 2013. Meanwhile, survey respondents said they experienced a 1.4 percent increase in same-store holiday sales.
More than 75 percent of businesses located in cities that have shop-local campaigns reported more customer traffic and other benefits. While sales growth for independent business in locales without such campaigns increased 2.3 percent in 2013, that number reached 7 percent on average with places using the campaigns.
“This comprehensive survey makes clear the unparalleled role that local businesses play in the health and vitality of communities,” Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association and co-chair of Advocates for Independent Business, said in a media release. “And it highlights, too, the challenges that these businesses are facing regarding equitable governmental policy and a level competitive playing field. However, the widespread acceptance of the localism movement – which shows the potential of small business advocacy – is a clear sign for optimism.”
Getting started in your community
Your first step should be researching whether any kind of shop-local organization already exists in your area. If so, you can simply join up with them. However, if no such organization has been created yet, you may want to consider starting one on your own.
If you do decide to create your own campaign, it’s important to reach out to local officials, organizations and other independent businesses for support. The more people involved, the more successful your campaign will likely be.
Next, it’s time to draft a plan for the campaign. Do you want to encourage a shop-local week at some point in the year? Perhaps you want a program that encourages shopping locally during busy consumer seasons, such as Christmas.
Whatever you decide, the next step is marketing. Advertisements around town, local newspaper interviews, television spots – these can all be useful. However, don’t underestimate the power of social media. Creating dedicated Facebook and Twitter accounts for your local campaign is a great way to generate buzz and support without spending a dime.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to national organizations that can offer help in creating a shop-local campaign. The American Independent Business Alliance and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance are two such organizations that can provide support in the way of training materials and research.