Unleashing the Power of Local Community Engagement: A Guide to Small Business Success
How to turn data-driven local insights into lasting customer relationships and sustained business growth.
Running a business is all about finding ways to properly engage your customer base. From your products to your marketing, you want everything to be as narrow as possible. The question isn’t “What does it take for a coffee shop to be successful?” It’s “What does it take for this coffee shop in YOUR town to be successful?
The answer? Let the good people of YOUR town tell you. Modern community engagement is data-driven. As a business owner you need to understand your customer base and be able to use that information to both anticipate their wants and meet their basic needs.
In this article, we take a look at how you can make your small business flourish by engaging your community.
Localized marketing strategies
Marketing used to rely very heavily on the “throw things on the wall and see what sticks,” approach. The digital world has changed things. Consumers are now used to having a highly personalized experience with the brands that they frequent.
You don’t have to be a big business to use data as a way of meeting your customers where they are. There are plenty of data programs out there that provide an affordable and accessible way to understand your shoppers and cater to their desires.
Taking a look at your sales-related data is a simple way to understand what is working and what is not. Social media can provide an even more granular look at what piques your customer’s interest. Most social media platforms provide analytic tools that will allow you to see how your marketing messages are doing based on a wide range of criteria.
If you do not feel confident in your ability to comprehend and apply data, there are also professionals available who will consult with your business on a freelance basis. Though not cheap, data-driven consultants provide a valuable service that can be particularly valuable when you are trying to revamp your business.
Customers value businesses that feel like they are a part of the community. To that end, “market engagement,” is not only about catering your product to the needs of your customers, it is also about catering your brand identity to the wants of the community.
In other words, ingrain your shop in the lives of the people who use it. Support public initiatives. Cooperate with similar establishments. Contribute to fundraisers. Sponsor town marathons. Set up booths at community events. Do what you can to reach beyond the mere transactional aspect of your relationship with the community.
Customer relationship management
Customer service is more important than ever. As a small business, you are uniquely positioned to provide a custom and familiar experience to the people that you serve. Get to know regulars. Respond quickly and professionally to phone calls and emails. Be friendly but professional.
Keep in mind that part of the appeal of small businesses from a community member’s perspective is that they improve upon the faceless and devoid experience of shopping at big-box, international retail conglomerates. People want to feel seen, so use your customer service approach to inject a human element into your business practices.
Market engagement also clues you into the greater business community. In the small business setting, it can be very valuable to have cooperative relationships with other shops in your area. It’s a form of networking.
Getting to know other business owners can help you better understand the town that you are serving. It can also give you unique insights into the local supply chain, while further improving your ability to provide a unique and bespoke approach to the town you are serving.
The Bottom line
Local market engagement is an intangible consideration that can have a significant impact on the overall health of your operations. By taking a data-driven approach to how you serve the public, you not only operate more efficiently but also establish yourself as an integral part of the town you serve.
Community is a vital aspect of small business. By engaging with your market, you will improve sales while also deriving more joy from the process of being a business owner.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in a number of industries from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business.