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Digging Deeper: Thinking Local and Personal to Get New Customers

Part of the SME Challenges Series.

It’s a hard time to run a small or independent retail business today. Given the impacts of mass eCommerce, mallification and the pandemic lockdowns, every trick in the book is a lifesaving tip to gain more customers and more value from each customer. Your most significant advantage is your ability to think locally. Focusing on your immediate community can be cost-effective and impactful to gain new customers. Let’s unpack how thinking locally and personally can help you beat customer acquisition challenges.

You have probably seen many of these before, but it never hurts to get a reminder. It might inspire you with an idea.

The Local Advantage

It's easy to get carried away by the allure of online marketing and forget about the power of local connections. Your community is not just a customer base; it's also a resource, a word-of-mouth machine, and an ecosystem where your business can thrive.

Host Local Events

You could host workshops, live demos, or community events that draw people into your store. Invite local bloggers or influencers to take part and amplify your reach. For instance, a reading or writing workshop can attract a crowd if you own a bookshop. Or, if you’re in the food business, what about a cooking demo?

Partner Up

Consider joining forces with other local businesses for mutual benefits. A coffee shop and a bookshop can do wonders together. Cross-promotions, loyalty programmes, or even package deals like a book and a coffee at a reduced price can attract new customers to both businesses.

Personal Connections

A personal touch makes a world of difference. The advantage you have as a small business is that you can provide personalised experiences that more prominent retailers can't.

Remember Names and Preferences

Make an effort to remember your customers' names and what they like or dislike. Noting this information can give you an advantage, especially when recommending new products or services.

Celebrate Milestones

Keep track of customer milestones like birthdays or anniversaries. A simple email, card, or small gift can make your customers feel valued and appreciated, increasing the likelihood of them spreading the good word.

Guerrilla Marketing Tactics

This is where you can get creative. Guerrilla marketing is all about making a big splash with a small budget.

Chalk it Up

Use chalk to create murals or write catchy slogans on the sidewalk outside your business. This will attract immediate attention and generate social media buzz as people take photos and share them online.

Flash Mobs or Public Stunts

This takes some planning but can create immediate local buzz. Ensure the stunt aligns with your brand, and always be sensitive to community norms to avoid backlash.

Window Displays

Sometimes, the oldest tricks are the best. A creative, eye-catching window display can work wonders. Change it regularly and make it interactive if possible. For example, you could display QR codes that passersby can scan for exclusive deals.

Local Social Media Campaigns

You can also run localised social media campaigns targeting users in specific postcodes. This ensures that your ads are seen by people who can walk into your shop or use your local service. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to set geographical parameters for your advertising.

By thinking locally and personally, you'll be tapping into a community that’s often more loyal and engaged than a broad, anonymous customer base could ever be. And the best part? Most of these low-cost strategies can deliver high returns, perfect for SMEs looking to overcome customer acquisition challenges without breaking the bank. So roll up those sleeves and dive into your local community; you might be surprised at the treasures you find.

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