Unlocking the main street advantage puts local businesses in a highly competitive position versus big box and online mega retailers. Here’s how it’s done:
The Experience Advantage
Competing on price is not a recipe for success. Rather, by focusing on your expertise to provide unique customer experiences you’ll attract the attention and business of local consumers.
To start: Host product demonstrations that showcase your knowledge where customers can engage with your products or services; or invite a well-known local industry connection to share their expertise to provide a uniquely local customer experience.
The Connecting Advantage
By networking with other local business owners you gain access to a vast network of local business knowledge and reach to local consumers. You don’t need to go it alone. By opening yourself up to making connections you avail yourself to lucrative collaborative opportunities and stay in the local communication loop for alerts and updates impacting your small business.
The Collaboration Advantage
Sharing “experiences” provided by other local businesses turns you into a valued local resource. By working with other local businesses you unlock opportunities to create unique experiences that attract local consumers.
For example with my company, Alignable, you can easily collaborate online in three simple ways. a) Share 2B Shared: keep an eye on your neighborhood stream on Alignable and share other interesting promotions from others with your followers on Facebook. When you post for others we’ll encourage reciprocation.; b) Join Together: if you see a promotion from another local business that your expertise could add to, drop them a note.; c) Plan Togetherness: plan and coordinate group events that rally local consumers in support of shopping local or supporting a local cause.
The Community Advantage
When local neighborhood businesses come together you become the most powerful channel for reaching local consumers. For example, on average local businesses have the ability reach out to 3,000 of their most loyal customers through email and social media. Typically with engagement rates in excess of 25%. So, when two local businesses compare their customer reach the list overlap is typically less than 2%. That’s 98% opportunity.
As local businesses connect and collaborate your collective reach exceeds complete coverage and in some cases attains multiples of coverage. At Alignable, in communities with 30,000 consumers we’ve seen 50 local businesses have combined reach to over 120,000 consumers. There is no media you could buy that would give you 4x local coverage with 20% engagement rates. Congratulations! You are now the local media powerhouse. And don’t forget: coordinating collective outreach for city-wide events can increase event attendance by over 20%.
Ultimately, the main street advantage is alive, well, and growing thanks to your efforts to simply connect and collaborate with others nearby.
Eric Groves is CEO and co-founder of the local business social network Alignable, a free social network for local business communities. Prior to co-founding Alignable, Eric was SVP Sales & Business Development at Constant Contact for 10½ years where he lead the company’s go to market efforts growing the business from start-up stage to 400,000 customers and $200MM in revenue. Groves authored The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing and is recognized as an expert on Engagement Marketing, Email Marketing, and local business appearing on MSNBC’s Your Business, Small Business Trends, Fast Company and The Small Business Advocate. Connect with @Alignable on Twitter.
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