The average consumer has the world at their fingertips. With 64 % of Americans owning smartphones in 2015, consumers have access to thousands of online shopping outlets 24 hours a day. It’s hard to break through the noise and make a connection with the customer, but for a local business, there is no other option. Forging a genuine connection with local consumers helps build brand loyalty, ensuring that when your customers are faced with buying from you or an online retailers, they feel obligated to choose you.
The most effective way to earn the trust of the community you serve is to be an active part of the community. The obvious place to start is with networking events. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to get a calendar of upcoming events. Networking with other motivated business owners will grow your contacts list, increase your business’s visibility and give you the opportunity to brainstorm with individuals in your industry.
If networking events are outside of your comfort zone, remember that in business it’s all about who you know. It’s important to put a face to your business in the local business community and nurture relationships with influential individuals. Networking events bring people that would ordinarily be hard to connect with face-to-face with you, so take advantage and watch your contact list grow.
Of course, formal networking events are not the only way to increase your visibility in the community. Start with local events. Think about participating in parades and community day events or sponsoring a local little league team. Use these fun events to socialize and connect with your target audience and give your business a real, human face. Building these relationships can lead directly to sales. Suddenly, your establishment isn’t just another business, looking to sell them something, it’s a place owned by their neighbor, their friend.
From there, you can take it even further by getting your entire team to volunteer. Local non-profit organizations are always looking for extra hands. Call the local food pantry and help them organize a food drive, or put together care packages for families during the holidays. Volunteering will help increase your business’s visibility, but it can help your business grow in other ways as well. You may find yourself picking up a new skill that makes you a stronger business owner. Your team will come together for a common goal and you will show them what your company stands for. Volunteering together gives them a shared experience, outside of the office that they can be proud of.
If you aren’t already an active member of the community, get started now. Use these ideas to start making connections and grow as a business owner. With the local community behind you, there is nothing your business can’t accomplish.