Surviving as a local business

With the arrival of online megastores such as Amazon, many have been announcing the demise of the smaller, local business. Every day there are more and more newspaper headlines lamenting the lack of independent shops, but whilst the economies of scale offered by large retailers cannot be denied, there are a few ways that you can give your local business a helping band.

Get organised

With massive big-name supermarkets decimating the revenues of many small businesses, many individuals have made efforts to team together to harness the cross-promotional power of many local brands.

Initiatives such as Totally Locally have been developed where small businesses in a specific local area are given a helping hand in promoting their activities and products. This can take the form of new marketing techniques, exclusive branding, and a range of special activities that aim to provide the local population with a much greater appreciation of their local businesses.

Promotional activity

Key to such efforts are the promotional methods used of overcoming the limited marketing budget of the small business to reach a large and willing local audience. Once awareness is in place that the local population values the specialised knowledge of a shop in their town, they will be much more receptive to advertising, offers and promotions.

Most small towns have publications like the Handy Mag that allows the community to enjoy reading about the range of local services and activities. And the cheap advertising offered by such publications is of undoubted benefit to the small business.

Similarly, it's incredibly important for the local business to use the power of the internet to reach larger audiences. The Yorkshire-based bed retailer Bedstar have made impressive headway by using e-commerce and direct-to-customer promotions to sell their products far beyond their immediate locale.

Local events

One of the biggest advantages that local businesses will have above the faceless multinational corporations is their ability to provide a tangible and physical front for their operations.

The simple face-to-face interaction of customers to shop staff cannot be underestimated, and that's why it can be a good idea to promote special local events to highlight the human factor in your local business.

This can take the form of special Sunday openings, or even by clubbing together as part of a larger network of similar minded shops such as seen in the recent Books Are My Bag campaignby a group of hard-hit independent bookshops. All are simple, yet powerful ways to spread the message of your small-but-perfectly formed business!

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Pete White Pete White

Love Shrewsbury editor and chief developer at The Web Orchard, find out more on petejwhite.com

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