Creating a bond between a local business and their local customers is a MUST. Otherwise, there’s no loyalty to do business with you over the same kind of business down the street.
You must create a bond between you and your customers that keep them coming back again and again. And not only them, but you want them to tell all their friends and relatives, right? Of course.
In Dan Kennedy’s new book, No B.S. Grassroots Marketing, he compares local business owners with political campaigning. He says that every morning the business owner should get up and organize/act as if he is running for mayor.
Even in today’s political campaigns, they still rely heavily on grassroots campaigning — getting out and meeting people on the local level at every opportunity. Yes, even in our high-tech world of Facebook, Twitter, web sites and other online marketing, there is no substitute for getting out in the community and meeting people, looking them in the eye and shaking their hand.
To compete with the big box retailers and online giants, like Amazon, local businesses must be unique — and personal! You have to give people a reason to keep coming back … once they find you that is. It’s relationship marketing at its core, which never, ever goes out of style. We all like to be treated like a real human being, instead of a number.
The online world tries to simulate the ‘in person’ world, with every effort. The objective in every word that’s written and every technique or delivery system that is used is to make it personal. Every online marketer knows they must connect with their audience in a meaningful way.
The difference between trying to connect with the masses is that their faces are all blurred into one. They really aren’t individuals, with names and families they can actually meet in person. Even in my work, I rarely get to meet my clients in person because they’re everywhere. So when I have a local client, it is such a treat to actually look them in the eye and shake their hand. And, even actually speak to them on the phone occasionally!
It’s all about generating a bond of trust with your customers on the local level. It’s a return to the simple. Most people are quite starved for a return to simple and genuine. Afterall, your customers, clients or patients are just people. And, after the shine of the new media wears off or becomes 100% dominated by the BIG advertisers, local business owners, who have created a relationship — a bond — with their customers will have a chance to survive and even thrive.
I think we’ll be seeing a return to simple, which means a return to our local communities for support of all kinds. And buying local from people we know will also become more and more important.
Our world has become so fragmented. For all the wonderful blessings we derive from global connectivity, it also produces a bit of a schizophrenic, ‘not-sure-what’s-what or who’s who’ kind of existence. So I think now is a good time for local businesses to beef up their local relationship-building efforts.
These efforts don’t have to be expensive, either, when you know what to do. So many local small businesses are disappearing by the day. We all know about the demise of Borders, but other bookstores are going the way of the dinosaur and many hardware stores, restaurants, clothing stores and even some professional practices have also closed their doors.
Of course, we can point to the survival of the fittest (unless you’re a big bank or Greece) in a competitive landscape, the recession and other endless Washington DC-imposed restrictions as the culprits. But some of the responsibility must rest on the shoulders of local business owners. We’ve lost touch with our real-life customers and communities.
What can we do? I believe we can join the ranks of those local businesses that have thrived, during these difficult times in spite of the recession, government interference and the distant online discounters and big box retailers.
I suggest we get back to the basics. Like successful political campaigns, you need to be SEEN in your local community. Isn’t it amazing that in our current high-tech world, we still see political signs stuck in every ounce of green space they can find. And, shock of all shocks, they even meet with the locals and call people on the phone. That’s pretty grassroots.
To your local business success,
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