5 Effective Ways to Support Local Businesses
Supporting local businesses isn’t exactly complicated, but there may still be some things you don’t know about what is and isn’t effective. After thirteen years of running our own local business, we’ve learned first-hand what really makes a concrete difference to the bottom line.
In the big picture, it’s always a combination of purchasing and sharing, similar to how health comes down to diet and exercise. Here’s a more specific breakdown to support that winning combination.
Give Negative Feedback Privately at First
If you want to support local business, you might think refraining from criticism would be helpful. You might figure they’re trying their best and to complain would just put a damper on their day. In many cases, you’re right. A negative comment is the last thing a small business owner wants to hear.
However, if you never say anything, you’re robbing them of crucial knowledge that could help them improve. There are two main things to consider though when providing that negative feedback.
The first is to make sure you alert the manager or owner. Even the best staff members may forget to tell the people in charge because they are busy on the floor and have a lot to do and remember. If you go directly to the owner, you avoid the chance your feedback will get lost.
The second is to keep it private at first. If you have reason to believe that the owner doesn’t know about a certain issue, or that there were no bad intentions and the problem can be fixed, provide the feedback privately. This is a nice gesture that will show the owner you care more about helping them than dragging them on social media.
That being said, if you feel something was absolutely unacceptable, or the business still doesn’t address your feedback, there is nothing wrong with posting a public negative review. It all depends on what you believe is fair and what you are trying to accomplish.
Write a Positive Review If They Earned It
Writing a positive review can go a long way for a local business. Not only does it improve their star rating, it improves their visibility in search results so more people can find them. It also gives a mood boost to owners and staff who read it. That motivation just keeps building on itself, creating a better and better business that everyone enjoys being a part of!
Of course, this is only if they have really earned that positive review. It’s temping to leave a review just because you want a business to succeed, but that can create a false sense of quality that sets high expectations the business can’t consistently meet. Strangers won’t be as understanding, and ultimately, the business won’t be better off.
Think of some local businesses you’ve been impressed by, and consider leaving them a positive review on their most public rating site (usually Google), or if you have time, everywhere you think people will see it!
Share Their Content
One of the easiest ways to support a local business is to share their content. You can do simple things like share their social media posts or forward their emails, or you could go the extra mile and create your own post encouraging your friends to follow that business.
Be mindful of spamming, though. Even good intentions can annoy your friends, which isn’t the goal. A slight nudge every once in awhile is all you need. Remember, it’s always about providing value to your friends and to the business!
Bring Your Friends or Tell Them in a Helpful Way
Another effective way to help is to actually bring your friends to the business! People are more likely to keep doing what is familiar to them, so if you are their guide you’ll be exposing them to a great new place that they’ll feel more comfortable with in the future. You’ll show them first-hand what the place is like, which is always more effective than a casual mention in conversation. Concrete experience is always the most memorable.
A verbal recommendation is also quite helpful, especially if you don’t have the ability to actually bring your friends. Though no one would ever complain if you said your favorite local business had the “best _______!!!”, it’s actually more effective if you can list something concrete. When you think about it, the term “best” is thrown around a lot, and no one really seems to agree. What is the place good at? Are they the best place in town to bring young children for a meal? Do they have a memorable atmosphere that made you feel a certain way? Who, really, would you recommend them to? Those are the details that will really intrigue your friends and make them more likely to take your suggestion.
Purchase From Them!
Last but not least, and hopefully one of the most obvious, is to make purchases from them! Of course, not everyone has the same budget, so you can only do this to the best of your ability, but it’s worth mentioning. It’s easy to get caught up in the social media tactics and the flashiness of a cool brand, but at the end of the day, a business stays in business because people shop there. If you ever have any feedback for the owners on how to make purchasing easier or more compelling, let them know!
Have any other tips? Want to ask us a question about how to support local or start your own local business? Just send an email to Caila at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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