In the minds of consumers today, small businesses rule. They account for 54% of all sales, 55% of all jobs, and 66% of all net new jobs for the past nearly 45 years. In fact, a recent Gallup poll suggests that 67% of Americans have more confidence in small businesses than the other 21% who prefer big business. This is a trend that’s endured since 2007.
That being said, how is your business taking advantage of your community appeal?
Here are 4 ways that you can use the small business advantage to achieve success.
- Illustrate the difference between you and the big guys: America has always been a fan of the underdog, the scrappy Mom and Pop shop that’s been around in the community for years versus the corporate big wig who’s opening yet another branch of the same store. You won’t be able to directly compete against the big brands but you can play up your contrasts. For example, you can utilize the relationships that you have in the community as a qualification for your quality of customer service. Support local charity initiatives, something that a lot of big box retailers can’t do. Highlight that you know the community and aren’t just a transplant business.
- Provide each customer with personalized service: What keeps you coming back to a business? Is it the prices? Maybe. The goods? Perhaps. Most likely, a store earns your repeat business because they go above and beyond to make your shopping experience enjoyable. You greet your customers with a warm welcome and some even by name, every time they enter your establishment. You engage in small talk that is more meaningful than just commenting on the weather outside. You ask your customers about their day and follow up the next time that you see them. As they say in Cheers, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”
- Market the local angle: Big businesses drive up sales through promotions like BOGO, 50% off product X, buy 2 for $3 and so on. As a small business, it might be challenging for you to try to compete with price discounts but you can align yourself with local community concerns to promote your business as well as your charitable work. Work with a local high school band to help them raise money for competitions by providing a coupon of sorts. Organize a community exchange, where you give away some of your goods or services for a reduced price or donate the proceeds to a local charity. Whatever the case, the more you make a name for yourself as a community contributor, they more likely you are to receive word of mouth advertising.
- Be human: In today’s business arena, buyers hold all of the cards and in most cases, they rely on customer reviews before making a purchasing decision. For small businesses, customer reviews are crucial, especially when dealing with a negative response. Unlike big retailers, you can’t afford to ignore negative feedback. You need to make it your mission to remedy the situation. Respond in a simple and straightforward nature. Apologize for not meeting expectations and then offer to call or email the customer personally to resolve the issue to their satisfaction.