Spread the Love: Supporting Local Businesses

Valentine’s Day is on the horizon and we’re officially entering the month of commercialized affection. Despite your feelings about this holiday season, now is a good time to reexamine the ways in which your business is spreading the love. Saying you’re supporting local businesses or charities is great. But here are some ways to show others that you’re the type who practices what you preach.

Small acts can have big impact.

Consider starting a #ShopLocal hashtag or a group page that highlights what your town has to offer. Supporting local businesses means working together. Encourage shoppers to post pictures, videos, and reviews online. If social media has shown us anything, it’s that users love feeling connected to a larger cause, but want to put forth the least amount of effort possible. Offer incentives for liking, sharing, and tagging. Even if it’s something as small as a personal comment thanking them and offering a tiny dose of public recognition.

Put your money where your mouth is.

A dollar can often have as much impact as a vote. Sure, when one person boycotts a behemoth like Walmart or Target, it’s hard to make a case that it’s affecting that company’s bottom line. However, if that same person chooses to reallocate that money to their local hardware store, bookshop, corner bodega, and clothing boutique, those dollars have a real effect within the community.

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For example, if you run a small cafe or restaurant and organic produce is important to you, seek out your local farmer’s market or co-op. It might take a little extra legwork to find one that suits you. But you’re guaranteed to get lower prices, better quality ingredients, and a vendor who’s passionate about what they do and can offer actual product knowledge or recipe inspiration. Additionally, think of the satisfaction you’ll feel knowing you’re helping to actualize someone’s business dream simply by caring about where you source your veggies. THAT’S what supporting local businesses looks like!

A referral can be the highest form of flattery.

Is a customer looking for a product you don’t carry, or a service you’re unable to offer? Don’t be afraid to recommend them to the competition or a professional in town who could give them further advice. You’re showing more than just respect of your fellow local business owners. You’re demonstrating to that client that you’re part of a larger community—one that cares about each others’ success and doesn’t shy away from teamwork or asking for help.

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Similarly, if you know the florist down the street is having difficulty keeping up with the books, and you happen to love your accountant, make a recommendation. Networking isn’t about fake smiles and name-dropping over expensive cocktails. It’s in the little day-to-day introductions or the “You know who you should talk to…?” moments.

Show ’em what you’ve got.

Do you offer a service that could be helpful to other local businesses? Maybe you dabble in social media marketing or graphic design. Consider sending out a targeted Facebook ad or online flyer encouraging holiday shoppers to check out the family-owned jewelry store in town or the candy shop down the street. Not only would you be supporting local businesses, but you’d be showcasing your talents as well. Who knows? Maybe they’d see an uptick in sales and consider you for their next social media campaign. Win, win, right?

If your business is more business-to-consumer (B2C) oriented, consider teaming up with another local store to push holiday sales. Maybe for every $25 spent at your specialty grocery store, customers receive a 10% off coupon at the consignment shop next door. Or every holiday jewelry set sold comes with a small box of candy from the local confectionery.

Consider involvement on a higher level.

Occasional collaboration is great, but those benefits can be significantly maximized when they have a group of people behind them dedicating time and resources. That’s why joining a local Chamber of Commerce or Lions Club is an excellent way to sustain that networking and community interest. You don’t have to attend every meeting or run a campaign for board member nomination. Simply attending one or two events a month can have a huge impact on your business’s prosperity.

Additionally, find out if there’s a charity or shelter in your community that’s looking for volunteers or donations. Check with your local library for educational events, information seminars, or resource fairs to see how you can contribute products or services. Even just showing up, making conversation, and dropping off a business card can turn into a sales lead. Or better yet, a longstanding friendship.

Share your success with those who made it possible.

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on UnsplashHave referrals from local businesses helped you achieve a sales goal or settle a legal mess? Make sure you say thank you. A handwritten note, a small gift, or even a social media shout-out can show that you appreciate their consideration and aren’t afraid to acknowledge it. This kind of reciprocity shows clients that you’re a team player, and that you don’t squander opportunities to grow and learn.

Remember why you’re doing this in the first place.

There’s an innate admiration in our culture of people who own their own businesses. There’s a necessary level of self-discipline, grit, and passion in making one successful. Allow other people to see that passion and watch it become contagious. Be confident in yourself! You’ve achieved something that many people never get past the dreaming phase! Sharing that attitude with customers and other local businesses is a surefire way to foster an image of determination, respect, and spirit.

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