Keep your Business Local

Community Based Marketing and Loyalty Programs for Small Business


Measures of Success

Each of us measures success in a different way. The Hartford Small Business Success Study identified the most common measures used by small business owners. As might be expected most are financial. For many people, that is the bottom line.

24% – Earn enough to live comfortably
23% – Do something I enjoy
18% – Increase profitability from year to year
9% – Pay employees enough to live comfortably
9% – Other
7% – Have free time to do what I want
6% – Pass the business to a family member
4% – Sell the business for a big profit

Posted by:  Sarah Matista

Many small business owners also enjoy contributing to the local community and providing jobs. These tireless souls that work 60 to 90 hour weeks to make things happen are the reason there is vibrancy and diversity in these communities.

Regardless of your measure. May you continue to be successful and enjoy a prosperous 2014.

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All the best at Christmas and in the New Year!


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The Challenges of Marketing in Rural Areas

Close up of a small Christmas tree inside a spherical glass

My clients in rural communities use many ways to reach out to their customers. Traditional things like billboards and signage are not very effective when you can count on your fingers the number of cars that pass by. Another client just realized that being ranked Number 1 on a Google Search in her category does not help in her remote area.

So how do you get your message to this target market? Simple, deliver it directly using focused Marketing Programs. Community based marketing programs such as Loyalty Programs that focus on local businesses and customers in the surrounding geographic areas. Use a geo-targeted approach that encourages residents to frequent local businesses. For example, add location information to your posts so they are listed in searches for businesses in your area.

A great way to leverage exposure is to connect and team up with other local businesses. Do this using joint promotions, geographically targeted advertising, Multi-Merchant Loyalty Programs and sponsored events. “Like” other local businesses on Facebook and use Pinterest to promote your business, and local activities and attractions.

The Holiday Season is perfect for getting organized. Increased traffic into the area benefits everyone. Make the shopping experience special to entice shoppers to frequent local businesses. Time limited promotions, hot chocolate stations and gift wrapping tables make the process more enjoyable.

Small businesses need a different approach to successfully market their products and services in rural areas. They need focused programs that appeal to their target market and encourage them to “Shop Local”.


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5 social media marketing trends for 2014 | Frederic Gonzalo

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5 social media marketing trends for 2014 | Frederic Gonzalo.

It is that time again. Along with the holiday plans, parties and presents, we need to do a “check-up” on what is working in our online strategies and what is not. The statistics in this article show that there are subtle shifts in how different age groups use social media.

Facebook is still going strong. The average time spent on the site is about 20 minutes per day per user. The interesting thing is that there is a decline in the amount of time 13-17 year olds spend on the platform but 23% of the other age groups still use it.

On the other hand, Twitter usage by the 13-17 year old group has increased by 26%. This number is expected to continue to increase. Twitter devotees like the real-time communication they have with their followers.

The Snapchat platform is another one to watch. This mobile application lets users send out messages that disappear after a defined time. This approach is potentially a response to privacy concerns about content on the internet. The question remains, how does it fit into an online strategy?

Google+ is now the second largest social network behind Facebook. Its search capabilities and ability to evolve make it an important player. The down side is that not many marketers have embraced the platform.

Video continues to grow. Showing, not telling is still the best way to present information. Using Podcasts, YouTube and Vine make it easy to create and distribute video content.

Change is the norm and so as we review what we did last year and prepare for 2014, the important thing is to find the channels that work for your business.

Happy Planning!


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“Shop Local” Loyalty Strategies

Women Window Shopping

How can smaller centers compete with the big cities? By developing strategies that encourage residents to shop in their local community. The key to making these types of programs successful is making them flexible enough to work for different types of businesses.

Loyalty Programs are a great way to focus the attention on local businesses. A Coalition Loyalty Program made up of local businesses is a good way to start. Residents collect points and redeem them at other local businesses.

Make it Simple. Signing up for the Program should be quick and easy. Consider getting away from the standard Loyalty Card. There are other ways to do it.

Make it Fun. Use a mobile app to delivers deals and rewards directly to your customers’ smartphone.

Make it easy to Save. A Coalition Program makes it easy to collect and redeem points at different businesses for items customers want.

This type of Community Based Marketing targets customers in your area. It leverages marketing dollars and increases exposure of the businesses that join the Program. Large corporations use these types of programs to increase market share, collect information on customer buying trends to develop marketing campaigns and discounting strategies. Now this type of information is available to small businesses.


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The Loyalty “Easy Button”

Ever wonder how to compete with businesses that have deep pockets and large marketing budgets? Here is an approach that builds on your strengths and your relationship with your target market.
Implement programs that give instant rewards and savings on future purchases. Use them to create special campaigns for VIP customers and to promote Holiday Specials. In other words, good reasons to come back to your business.


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How can You get What you Want?

3 Ways to Get what you Want

3 Ways to Get What You Want by Giving People What They Want | Copyblogger.

Can it be this simple? Sometimes it is. We all have the same basic needs.

  • Love
  • Financial, political, or psychological independence
  • Status
  • Recognition

Connecting with our audience is the goal of all Marketing. Creating content that meets the most important needs of your target market is the key. It must extol the benefits of the product or service, show how it solves a problem or need, while building trust and overcoming objections.

Providing the right information at the right time is always a challenge. Each part of the buying cycle is different. An overview works when customers want general information but when they are comparing your products and services with the competition, they want detailed specifications.

This is a great article that shows how to create content that relates our fundamental needs with the buying decision.


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The “New and Improved” Buggy Whip?

Buggy WhipEver feel as if you are designing and promoting the “new and improved” buggy whip? A product or service that seems obsolete. Or is it? Many companies are using online strategies to re-invent themselves.

For example, the used car magazine that offers its inventory online. Customers can browse and get consumer feed-back on each product. What about the online coupon market and the fact that we can now buy almost everything online?

Take another look at your processes and procedures and how you interact with your customers. There might be a more effective way using online strategies. Today’s customers go to the internet first, do their research and then decide when and where to buy.

Business renewal is the key to maintaining your place in the market. How do your customers like to interact with you? When you can answer that question, you can design a process that works for your business.

It can be as simple as displaying your products on Pinterest, facilitating online ordering or providing customer service on an interactive website. Always remember, make it easy for customers to contact you online and directly. Make the buying process easy. Reinvent the “buggy whip”.