Starting or maintaining a small local business is no easy task. This is especially the case when you offer a product or service that is provided by major players that are hard to compete solely on price with. For every story of a mom and pop shop that has fought off the corporate giants, there are hundreds that did not share the same fate.
However times are changing, and technology is providing opportunities that were never even thought possible just a few short years ago. While a well thought out digital marketing plan is a given, I feel there are 3 key things a small business or start up can do today that can not only give them a real shot in the sales arm, but build customer loyalty and retention.
1. Exclusive Couponing – As a consumer who has used the likes of Groupon, and Living Social, I can tell you with certainty that it works. I have tried numerous new products and services from businesses I had neither heard of or would have considered. Get your business on one of these sites for a day, and you are destined to drive significant business your way and if you truly have a great product or service, repeat customers.
2. Location Based Rewards – I love the idea of Foursquare, Whrrl and Gowalla. I wish I wanted to use them more, but the reality is, unless I have incentive to, I just don’t find myself using them as much. However as businesses have started to offer rewards to users who check-in, that likelihood changes dramatically. If I were a local business, I would immediately partner with these companies and get an offer on the table, and window decals advertising the fact.
3. Reputation/Review Sites – I find myself using Yelp more and more to make service based buying decisions. It’s scaling, and there’s nothing more trustworthy then the opinions of the masses. I love businesses that have window decals showing they are listed on Yelp. It tells me that they care about what people say about them which usually results in good service and product. I would take it one step farther and offer incentives to customers to leave feedback. If you can work a nice Yelp rating, it will pay off in spades. Similar sites like Urbanspoon (for restaurants), and Google (off there map searches) are other areas I’d have businesses concentrate on building a strong reputation on. Embrace user feedback and good things will happen.