Think global, act locally.
It’s not a new catch-cry, but it is definitely one that is gaining momentum as the squeeze on businesses gets tighter. The need to encourage buying local is very real when everything is but a mouse click away.
My “local” consists of two distinct areas – the local area where I am physically located – currently Bribie Island in Queensland, Australia.
Then there is my “local” online community.
My “local” online community consists of my clients and other businesses I use regularly.
They are “local” to me because we have a relationship built over time. So even though we are not physically in the same location, they are my go-to people for certain services.
We support the community and environment for a number of reasons. Some of the main ones being that the community grows stronger. Local businesses support local initiatives in a wide variety of ways including offering pro-bono services, donating to fundraisers, sponsoring events and much more.
The flip side of this is that as a business owner we need to remember that alternatives are just a mouse-click away, delivery is often overnight and prices are often cheaper.
Service makes a difference
There are those who will always go for a cheaper price, and there is not a lot you can do about that.
BUT, there are many who are happy to pay a little more for excellent service and to keep their funds local.
It all comes down to educating our community and taking that educative approach to our business.
I’ll give you an example. I recently needed to make an expensive purchase for my office and a local business had mentioned to me last year that when I was in the market to please come to them first as they would, likely as not, be able to price match.
I contacted them earlier this year, only to receive the very terse answer that I’d better go buy from the multi-national.
No explanation. Nothing.
Here’s the thing…if the answer I received had spelt out that sadly on this occasion they could not price match, or something along the lines of that by buying local they were readily available to help troubleshoot etc, I would have very willingly paid the extra $100.
Instead, I received a short, unenthusiastic answer that did not inspire me to part with my extra $100.
The damage done is actually worse than the loss of this one sale from me; not only does it not inspire me to ever go back again, it has also meant I have shared my negative experience with my business network here in the local area.
By contrast, I never question the prices that the local electrical store quotes. I know they are sometimes a bit more expensive, but their service is stellar so it’s a no brainer to go there for all my electrical needs.
Recommendations & Referrals
Similarly, when it comes to the butcher, pharmacy, bottle shop, restaurants and more, I enthusiastically recommend the businesses I love.
I actively encourage everyone to act locally and support local businesses in the community that I know provide a wonderful service.
If there isn’t a business that is physically close, then I refer to my online “local” community.
When it comes down to acting locally, there are 3 key points that business owners need to keep in mind in order to maintain and build a client base.
1) No one can afford to be complacent.
Just because a business is a local one does not mean that people will automatically patronise it.
Customers are savvy. It must be meeting all their needs.
The businesses that thrive and grow are always those which are prepared to go the extra mile.
2) Genuine service and courtesy go a very long way.
Taking a genuine interest, active listening and being courteous and honest play a large role in converting a prospect into a sale.
3) Maintain a database and utilise it to stay in touch
When you’re local it’s all about building a relationship. A buyer has many choices.
By maintaining regular communication (and there are lots of different ways to do this) you stay front of mind.
Avoiding complacency, being on the lookout for opportunities to value add.
Offering good old fashioned service with a smile (even if it’s on the phone, smiling is important!) is what keeps customers coming back, more importantly, it’s what gets referrals for your business.
At the end of the day, referrals are frequently the deciding factor for customers on whether they will shop locally.
PS – Love you to share your views in the comments on what are the deciding factors for you to act locally or go further afield.
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