One of the most important things about running a business is that you can’t explain everything through numbers. If this were true, there would always be one business per industry – one with the objectively best offer. However, this is not the case.
There are as many different realities as different minds, so some people use more factors to evaluate the best enterprise to do business with. One of these factors is the involvement of a specific business with the local community.
Traditionally, local businesses have a higher local appeal, but what is the case, and how can you exploit this idea? Here are five things you need to consider to get these answers.
Portray yourself as a local business
One of the biggest stereotypes regarding companies is that they’re obsessed with profit and subject everything else to that goal. The biggest stereotype about small local businesses is that they’re always run by tight, loving families that were there for generations and are now just looking to scrape by.
The truth is that stereotypes are just that – stereotypes.
There are small businesses that are run solely by greed, while there are massive conglomerates that are trying to make a difference in the world.
However, like with any stereotype, you’ll have difficulty convincing people you’re sincere. People like it when they can put everything in a box and sort these boxes to fit their mental layout.
This is why when you are involved with the community, you get positively stereotyped, automatically shaping public opinion in your favor. In other words, you’re positioning yourself to be characterized positively. Instead of convincing people, you’re just getting on the good side of their beliefs.
Local knowledge, resources, and contacts
Corporate knowledge often depends on published studies, but what if your market and target audience is specific? Chances are that there are no studies on the subject matter, and even if you need polls, you’ll likely have to make, distribute, and analyze them yourself.
In other words, getting involved is the only way to understand a specific local community. Needless to say, this is one of the key things every business owner needs to know.
While you can technically look for local businesses and institutions online, reach out via email, and establish a collaboration this way, why not just attend a local event? These events are usually the “Who’s, who?” of the local community, and you’ll have a much more organic environment to meet everyone you need.
This is also a great opportunity to interact with some of your customers in an informal manner. Introducing yourself and asking them for feedback face-to-face will be much more impactful. Remember what we talked about in the previous section? You want them to see that you’re not just another corporate entity.
Showing your care and involvement
As a local business, you want to show that you care about the local market for more than immediate monetary gain. If you restrict yourself to the local market, then the prosperity of the local market affects the prosperity of your target market.
By investing in the community’s future, you’re actively investing in the future of your own business. For instance, when it comes to your own involvement, you could sponsor a school outreach program. What is an outreach program? It’s a method that paves a path for students, sponsors, and communities to create opportunities for those less privileged.
Remember that your target audience shows a deep affection for their community on a personal level. It’s not just a place where they live; it’s also a part of their identity. Therefore, by showing that you are for the same thing, they’ll be able to connect with the values of your enterprise on a much deeper and more personal level.
If your community supports you, you can easily overcome many difficulties. In the traditional corporate world or in an industry like e-commerce, people will give you a chance; if you squander it, they’ll never return. A downtime may mean the loss of all clients who try to reach out to you during this period.
On the other hand, when you’re a local business with deep ties in the community, people are willing to tolerate a lot more and return time after time.
Some people are more socially aware, meaning they’ll buy at small businesses, even with a slightly inferior offer. This doesn’t mean having a great inventory and competitive prices doesn’t matter. We’re merely suggesting that the ramifications of failure on these two fronts aren’t as severe.
Moments of crisis come and go, and there’s nothing that a small business can do about that. What you can do is build up your corporate resilience. A part of this lies in deepening your ties with the local community.
Previously, we’ve talked about how your business benefits from a strong local economy, but there’s even more to it than that. Small businesses are usually locally based, and their owners are locals. So, when you invest in a local school, it’s also a school your kids will attend.
You’re hiring people among the local populace, so getting credibility and social points with this group goes a long way. It means that you’ll have more successful hiring projects than ever.
Let’s return to the school outreach example just for a second. If you plan to run your business for decades, some kids affected/helped by these outreach programs may become employees, interns, or leaders. This is the type of loyalty and connection that you can’t earn with bonuses, promotions, or any kind of special offer.
Also, many people are not in business just for the money. Respect matters just as much, and earning the respect of people you’re living with (potentially even people you grew up with) matters quite a bit.
Ultimately, you must figure out the best way to reach out to the local community to make the biggest impact. While this will create great results for your enterprise, you shouldn’t ignore the personal satisfaction you’ll feel for just making a difference. Making the world a better place is just as important as making a profit (some would argue even more important).
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