I “support” local business. Really?

Turning the “I always shop local” shopper talker into a local walker.

Let’s face it, people will always say they will shop local when asked.  The reality is, that MOST people don’t do that at all. They will shop local when it makes sense for them, but they won’t do it unless it is in their best interest.

I was a political science major at the Air Force Academy, received a scholarship to the Institute of Political Journalism at Georgetown University, and went to law school there.  Why do I mention this, because the study of society in the political realm offers some crucial insights into human behavior.

And one of the most important things I learned is that too often, people will say one thing and do another, often for a variety of reasons that may not make sense to someone who believes that people will always tell the truth when asked a question.  

So goes with the Support Locally Owned Business campaigns that exist all over the country.  People pay lip service to this phrase, but their actions tell us a completely different story.  

“In the fourth quarter and in 2017 as a whole, U.S. online retail grew faster than it has since 2011. E-commerce represented 13% of total retail sales in 2017 and 49% of the growth. Amazon is responsible for much of the gains.” – Digital Commerce 360

You and I both know that when you need something, you do some research and often don’t really care whether Small Business Owner Jane or John has been in business for 23 years and is a pillar of the community.  You buy it where you can get the best deal for YOU! Now, why did I emphasize YOU?  Because what is a good deal for you, is not necessarily a good deal for me.

Let’s take me, for example.  I am impatient and won’t go researching anything for too long when it comes to buying something.  If I am out and I need something, here’s what I do. I go into the store and if I can find it in 4 minutes, I will buy it there if it is less than $5.  If it is more than $5, I will take out my phone, hit the Amazon App to see what the cost is and then go from there. If the difference is enough that I have to wait a few days to get it, that’s what I will do.  And enough means different things to me at different times. 90% of the things I buy, I wouldn’t know where to start to find a local business that sells what I need. I am sure they are out there, but I can’t find them often!

Where I do support locally owned businesses, it makes sense because I can compare pretty easily what some tasks costs and I also know that expertise matters.  For example, when it comes to a car repair job, the key to success for an auto repair shop (Full disclosure: I have two locally owned auto repair shops as clients), is the service technicians that work there.  Talented mechanics are important, regardless of where they work. An auto repair shop that has been in business for decades means they have been able to find and keep talented service techs. Many of the national places, which include franchises, don’t always get the most experienced techs.  And a small independent shop that offers GUARANTEES and WARRANTIES their work, gives me more comfort, especially when combined with a quality website and REVIEWS on independent sites. In this case, one customer at an independently owned and operated auto repair shop is a much bigger fish than one customer at a nationally-owned chain.

So,  how do you become a locally-owned business that doesn’t go away and captures enough business so that you can survive and thrive?  Well, here are 3 things you need to do right now:

  • Look at Amazon and other sites weekly, if not daily, to know how what you are offering compares to what someone could find online  (If you aren’t in retail and are in a service business, which many of my clients fit into, check out what the big companies are doing in your space);

  • Establish a regular contact process to keep in touch with your customers and their friends.  (Our clients have great success with monthly or bi-monthly e-mail campaigns, combined with target social media ads, and even some offline (direct mail, newspaper, etc., where it is warranted).  Do you reach out to your target market monthly?
  • Stop complaining about Goliath.  Goliath doesn’t care about you. Start thinking like a David, forget about the profit margins you used to have, and exist in the NOW, where you are.  One of the reasons why I like GPS so much is that it doesn’t care if you made a wrong turn. It looks at where you are now and tells you how to get there from where you are.  That’s it.

 

 

If you know a small business owner who is interested in a FREE, No-Obligation, consultation with me, go to calendly.com/bradswezey.  Or call me at 321-613-8476.

Brad is a seasoned public relations and marketing pro with more than 20 years of experience both inside and outside of government dealing at the national and international level. In addition to his work as a marketing consultant for small businesses, he writes a monthly column on marketing for Florida Today on small business marketing. He graduated with Academic Honors from the United States Air Force Academy and attended Georgetown University Law Center. He has a Master of Science degree from Air University. He was an officer in the United States Air Force and completed all professional schools, to include the Air War College. Some of the media outlets he has worked with include the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe. NBC News, Fox News, ABC, CBS, CNN, the BBC. AFP, UPI, AP, to name a few.

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