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How Small Local Businesses Can Compete Online

Flourish Support

In the wake of COVID-19, it has never been more crucial for local business owners to create and cultivate their online presence.

 Although the popularity of online shopping has been creeping up since the practice began, the events of the last two years – in particular, social distancing and the locking down of non-essential brick-and-mortar stores – has irreversibly changed consumers shopping habits, with more people than ever shopping online.

However, a huge concern for small to medium local businesses is how they can compete in an online marketplace that has millions of e-commerce competitors all vying for the same customers.

With this in mind, here are three things local businesses can do to compete online, get customers’ attention and make sales.


Target the right customers.

Targeting the right customers online is crucial to ensure your marketing efforts aren’t wasted on customers who are unlikely to make a purchase.

You need to know the typical demographic of your average customer, including age, gender, household salary and so on, which can help you to narrow down what marketing channels to use, including what social media platforms to build a presence on. Platforms such as Facebook also have a plethora of tools to help you target the right customers with their pay-per-click ads.

Moreover, to make sure you’re targeting local customers as much as possible, you should include as many references to your location both on your site and when marketing. 

Many consumers who set out to shop locally search ‘[product] near me’ into Google. The search engine then presents them with relevant businesses that are local to them – your business’ ranking here will be, in part, determined by how much you’ve referenced your location on your site.

One quick, smart way to gain access to a horde of local customers is to join an online local marketplace such as Flourish Sales Corp. which connects sellers to customers – and customers to sellers – within their city, province or state.

Vendors can create their own site as a part of the Flourish Sales Network, which is linked to the main platform, so local customers can browse through a whole selection of local stores in a format akin to a virtual mall or farmer’s market.


Cash in on your value as a small local business.

Being a small or medium local business may not seem like a superpower – but it is.

The majority of people want to buy locally for a plethora of different reasons. One of the top motives is to support the local economy, which can lead to community benefits such as improved public facilities such as schools and libraries among countless more. 

Others want to shop local because they’d rather support a family business than a large, faceless chain, headed by millionaires and even billionaires, while others still prefer to shop local to reduce their negative impact on the environment.

With this in mind, when cultivating your business’ online presence you need to hone in on these customers’ desires – show them that your business is personal and cares about both its employees and its customers with behind-the-scenes insight into the business, customer stories and testimonials.

Social media marketing campaigns, in particular, are mechanisms you can use to reach out to your customers and engage with them, encouraging them – by creating valuable content, rather than asking – to comment, like and share your content with others and spread the message of your company even further.

Lastly, a unique asset that local businesses can offer – that e-commerce and non-local businesses can’t – is the option to ‘click and collect’.

Since the pandemic, more people have turned to online shopping, but many still want to shop locally, without putting themselves at risk for an extended period while they browse through the store, potentially having to ask shop assistants for help.

More than this, many shoppers need an item on the day that they buy it, and click and collect provides them with the option to buy online, and get it immediately when they go to the store, with a speed that can rarely be achieved with e-commerce shipping.

So, make sure to promote your click and collect services to customers, as this represents a unique value that only local businesses can offer.


Build your brand through content marketing.

The principal way to show customers your brand’s value – as well as the faces and personalities behind the brand – is through content marketing.

Content marketing can take the form of social media posts, YouTube or TikTok videos, blog posts and more, though you should choose your channels according to your target demographic, and based on what you feel capable of consistently producing over time.

Content marketing allows you to build awareness and trust in your brand by offering value – this can be in the form of relevant tutorials, insider information into particular products and more – all while showing the faces of the people that customers will be supporting when they buy from your business.

This trust and awareness in your brand, built by your content marketing efforts, will bring customers back to your website – or your physical store – to purchase your products.





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