How do we get customers to shop local all the time?
We had one of our highest day in sales this past Saturday for Small Business Saturday. We were honored by the community's support and the other small businesses that helped sponsor our event and get customers in the door. It would be great if this was a regular thing. How are you as small business owners getting people to "think local" more of the time?
Currently, the greatest observation of customer loyalty I have seen has been my wife's obsession with Barns & Noble. We can buy books anywhere for less and purchase cheaper cafe items anywhere as well but my wife insists on going there to sit in their old chairs and eat the worst cannoli I've ever tasted (but it looked good) because she likes the ambiance and imagines having a huge library around her. Her socializing consists of a nod of the head to others in the seats around her... just the way she likes it as an introvert.
I can't say that B & N is the best example of customer care and understanding their customers but they sure come close. If you want your customers to be loyal you have to show them you understand them. If you only offer screaming deals then your understanding of your clients is that they are cheap and who wants to be known only in that way? Yes, everyone likes a good deal but what is their experience once they get into your store?
If you are going to Wall-Mart for their low prices then they have successfully fooled you. You can get almost anything available in their stores cheaper elsewhere but you would still go there for the convenience of buying everything you need in a single location. People are loyal there because of the convenience, not the pricing. Understand your customers and cater to the reason they want to frequent your establishment and not the reason you want them to, then you will have the answer to your question.
Keeping Customers Shopping Locally at small businesses is hard these days but there are many small businesses that go the extra mile and make it happen month after month. Customer Service and Customer Loyalty is The Key. I usually don't promote my services when responding to questions but this is proven and works for exactly what you need. I have clients who use our Loyalty Rewards Program and Mobile App that's custom for their business and they see 10 to 15% sales increases monthly. The key is your regular customers get loyalty points for purchases, sharing your promotions to their social media accounts Etc. and your customers actually do it. Look at the numbers if you have 50 loyal customers that join your loyalty rewards program and they share your promotions just to their Facebook timeline (Forrester Research says the average person on Facebook has 130 friends who reside within a 30 mile radius of where they live) but we like to use 50 local friends, so if your 50 customers share only 2 promotions a month just on Facebook you are reaching 2500 people with a personal recommendation 2 times for the month which is 5000 in line promotions backed by your loyal customers. This works and works extremely well and that's just Facebook, we are integrated with Yelp, Yahoo, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter and many more networks, your customers just press a button and automatically share your promotion and earn loyalty rewards points for doing it. You own all your data, have a Backend dashboard so you can custom tailor your promotions to fit your individual customers needs, there are no contracts for you, you can quit at anytime, but the truth is 97% of our small to medium size businesses stay because it works and you grow your business and subscribers month after month. The Holiday shopping season is the best time to start your program because all the promotion you do now will build your customer base and keep you moving forward all year long. We will actually Design your customer loyalty program and your custom loyalty Mobile App Free before you even make a commitment to the program, Then if you like what you see we can move forward and if you don't see the value that's ok. The cost of the program is so reasonable most businesses just jump on it and get rolling. You can see some live Apps at local social hub dot com
Also remember to sign up for our social media dashboard tool, it's totally free to use and will save you time and money keeping up with your social media marketing all in one easy to use dashboard.
It comes to being Small and Big at the same time. You offer the Advantage of being Local but having the offerings of a Global Retailer. One of the things you have to do is to do what I call "Stay on the Radar" with folks, You have you have to keep Pinging them. Not with the same content but with new things. And it is not Quantity. Text messages are great if you have a Phone number List. Consider what "Message" you want to communicate to your Customers each week. Repetition is very important in this day and age.
You need to work ON your business regularly. Create your own exciting opportunities to invite your customers to visit you. Don't do it by discounting ... find ways to "add value". Tap into other local, non-competing businesses and brainstorm ideas. I believe the reason much of today's shopping has gone on-line is because of the "ho-hum" experiences delivered by most bricks and mortar retailers.
A number of years ago out town was suffering with the new malls and big box stores, which was killing local businesses. So I organized a Downtown Committee comprised on local businesses only - no government. We took out full page ads in the local newspapers advertising "Shop Downtown xxxx" and the papers hit the local county. The ad featured each store as if it were a product on one store's ad. It worked! We had steady streams of business to the point that we convinced the local government to close the main street twice a year for the semi-annual street fair. Again, very successful.
That town had nice mom-pop stores and very nice restaurants which also helped draw customers.
Congratulations on a successful Small Business Saturday! I have an affinity for my local downtown shops and try to shop there as much as possible, but I have a suspicion that I;m in the minority. People (myself included) love the ease of online shopping, and the big box stores where you can have all your needs met in one place are really hard to compete with, so I truly bow to the Brick and Mortar contingent for hanging in there and following their dreams.
I think you've heard some wonderful suggestions, and I'm grateful to those who've shared their stories of excellent customer service - because I think that right there is one key that will set you apart from faceless online shopping. In my own neck of the woods, there's a downtown business organization that sponsors things like First Thursdays which is incorporated with an Art Walk - so galleries and stores have events, special sales, live music. I've also seen two or more shops band together to offer specials: buy a widget from Store A, and get a discount on a complementary product at Store B. There's a LOT of creativity going on out there, but it's true also that the nature of shopping has changed and business owners need to change their practices in order to keep up.
You can increase the awareness of local offerings, but you'll never get a large population to shop locally ALL the time. The retail world has changed and it is hard to compete with the ease of an online or mobile app.
Local businesses can provide personalized service, immediate availability of stock, and such, but I know that I can order things online and have them delivered to my doorstep before I would be able to get myself to a mall, box store, or other retailer.
Let me recount a story that has stuck with meal my career------I used to travel heavily in the South and in many airplanes..... Used auto shuttle services all the time..... This one time, it was the week before Christmas and the shuttle service I used in Greensboro NC offered us free ride, doughnuts, Christmas Cookies and Cakes, coffee and tea.... I never forgot them for doing this, so I used them whenever I needed to shuttle to the airport. At times I got free Newspapers, etc., just a little more of a personal touch....
You can get them to think local if you become a local presence that is known to doing something out of the ordinary, and if you can get other small businesses to join you, then so much the better... Try something different and timely, and original
First, congratulations on a successful Small Business Saturday! If you want to keep those customers coming back, you need to do things throughout the year that will keep attracting them your business. Have special promotions, or create some type of event that will interest your customers, and be sure to gather their email addresses so you can stay in touch with them and keep them updated on the promotions and other things they'd be interested in. What you do throughout the year doesn't have to be big or expensive. It just needs to be something that will keep customers thinking and talking about you. For certain promotions or events, you might want to try testing them out on some of the other holidays throughout the year, to fine tune them, and save your biggest events and promotions for days like Small Business Saturday. By doing smaller things at different times throughout the year, when days like Small Business Saturday roll around, your customers will make it a point to stop by, and tell others to do so, too. I hope this helps.