The community surrounding your business can quickly become your best customers. A sandwich shop’s daily customers are more likely to be their neighbors down the street rather than someone who has to drive 20 minutes to pick up a sandwich for lunch. It’s important for these people to see your business as one of their neighbors – someone they can trust and who is consistent with every visit.
Ensuring that you’re welcomed when opening a business in a new neighborhood is crucial to your first impression with community members. This is true especially if your business is large enough to threaten the livelihood of smaller, local businesses. Do your research about who the leaders are in the community, what organizations are beneficial to join and what problems the community has that your business can alleviate.
Marketing to people in your neighborhood is more cost-effective than trying to reach potential customers through mass media. Television and radio advertising can be expensive and may not even fit your target demographic. Advertising to people in walking distance from your business can be as easy as giving out coupons and fliers or passing out samples.
Being a part of the community is crucial and needs to be authentic. Join and support organizations that make sense for your business. Otherwise, it will appear that your support is self-serving. Sponsoring local schools, churches and sports teams with fundraisers or participating in the local county fair is a great way for your neighbors to meet you outside of your business and establishes your credibility. Doing these events over time builds loyalty and will show the community that you’re there to stay.
You can reinforce the connections you’ve made organically in the community with advertising in local community papers, social media or even geofencing your neighborhood. Seeing the name of your business can remind people of the positive relationship you have already begun to build and can help them take the next step to be a loyal customer. As always, knowing your audience will help you create the best advertisement. Whatever method you choose should be the correct medium for your neighborhood, and the copy and imagery should make sense to your potential customers.
You should be offering deals and discounts to everyone who walks through your door. Stamp cards, mobile check-in stations and other loyalty programs can persuade regulars to go to your business exclusively because they are rewarded for every time they visit your business over another. First-timers should be given new customer deals to alleviate the risk of visiting your business over their regular place. Even offering military or first-responder discounts to the local police and firemen will increase their visit frequency and show your neighbors that the community supports your business.
Being a good neighbor doesn’t just apply to residents, businesses also need to step up when it comes to prioritizing their communities. Not only will you be filling your business with locals you know on a first-name basis, but your business will also thrive in a community that welcomes it with open arms.