Local Marketing and The Importance of Community Connections
One of the great advantages a small local business has over its larger competitors is its connection to its local community. But this connection does not just happen; a business has to reach out and develop relationships over time.
These attempts at local marketing require more than just putting an ad in the paper. To be effective, the business and its owners must spend time on things that are important to the community and have minimal initial financial benefits to the business.
But if done correctly, local marketing can establish loyalty and generations of customers. Here are a few things a small business can do to build connections with their community.
Join the local Chamber of Commerce
The first step in any local marketing push for a small business owner should be joining the local Chamber of Commerce. The primary purpose of a Chamber of Commerce is to provide a forum for businesses to communicate with their local government. This group can help influence policy in a way that can help benefit both the community and Chambers’ member businesses.
But beyond this legislative purpose, the Chamber of Commerce is a community of potential suppliers and customers. For example, if an attorney joins the Chamber of Commerce, she might find potential clients who need help with contracts and other business related matters. That same attorney might also be able to use her relationship with the Chamber of Commerce to create a network of trusted community figures who can refer clients to her practice.
Another step in a local marketing push might be creating mutually beneficial partnerships with other local businesses. Some businesses might naturally work well together, as one shop may provide a good or service that helps support another business’s products. For example, a mechanic and a car dealership might be a natural alliance. By creating even an informal relationship, businesses can help each other find customers.
Even if there is not a natural fit between two businesses, a relationship could still be beneficial. An informal organization of friendly businesses could still help generate sales for the members and provide a forum for business owners to get feedback on ideas.
Consider co-hosting a community event or activity
All communities have cultural touchstones that its citizens rally behind, and these events help define the community. These touchstones can take a variety of different forms, from Little League to weekend long festivals. An obvious way to step in a local marketing plan is to sponsor one of these.
While writing a check might be the easiest sponsorship method, it might not be the most effective. A monetary donation might get a business’s name on a sign or on press materials, but it may not make the strongest connection to the citizens attending the event. So to truly be effective, a business should consider donating both the time of its owners and employees as well as its money. Since such a strategy can consume a lot of resources, a small business should choose which activities to sponsor wisely.