Why Small Businesses Still Need to Network in the Local Community
Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Deborah Sweeney – Enjoy!
Despite the rise of social networking and the perceived crumbling of face-to-face interaction it has caused, community is not dead. I have always been very passionate about local small business, but when I talk about real life networking within my community, I often get a few raised eyebrows. After all, I run an internet-based business – it isn’t like we get a lot of walk-in traffic! But establishing roots in your local community, regardless of what type of a business you run, is absolutely vital to your continued success. These relationships can help lead to partnerships and, though the internet has made it easier to market, word of mouth in the flesh is still invaluable to brand recognition.
Local recognition is priceless
A few years ago, American Express sponsored a ‘Small Business Consumer Pulse Survey’ to gauge how the average person felt about local small business. According to that survey, 9 out 10 Americans believe it is important to support local small businesses, and 73% of respondents said that they make a conscious effort to shop at local businesses. If your business is known as a local company, a solid majority of the nearby population is going to try to frequent your storefront as much as possible. However, if you hide behind a computer screen and refuse to connect with anyone within your community, they may very well pass you over. And even if you don’t run the type of business that does a lot of walk-in sales, that local recognition is still invaluable. Whether it is through hosting an open house at your office, offering a scholarship, or even sponsoring a banner ad at a local baseball game, making your name known to your community is a precious marketing asset. People who live in the city you do business in will go out of their way to look you up online if they know you are active in their community.
Small businesses that support each other do better
Are you active in your local chamber of commerce? Well you should be! Studies show that by simply involving yourself with your Chamber of Commerce, you increase customer favorability by 44%, and increase the likelihood of future patronage by 64%. The Chamber of Commerce is also a goldmine of information about local economic trends and policies. Business owners swap ideas, and studies are sponsored to help give chamber members a competitive edge. If you are skipping out on your Chamber of Commerce, you are really missing out on some great opportunities to network and mingle with area leaders.
Trust me, it is inspiring
While I love the fact that both my business and my work as its CEO is bettered by becoming involved in the local community, it really is inspiring to be included in a network of small businesses and entrepreneurs. I often try and give talks at local schools and colleges about becoming an entrepreneur because I want that network to grow. According to the SBA, small businesses have generated 64% of all new private-sector jobs over the past twelve years. Taken by itself, the lone small business may not seem like it impacts much at all. But when we work together to build and foster a network of small businesses, we make our community, and our company, better all around.
Marketing is all about increasing brand recognition and bringing in new customers. And while traditional marketing through television, radio, and the internet definitely works, you are missing out on a real opportunity if you aren’t involved in your local network of businesses. Your company should be recognized as the pillar of the local community that it is, and that only happens when you become involved with your town. So when you’re planning out your marketing strategy, remember to include your local community. Not only will your involvement help you to do more business, it will also help make you a better businessperson.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.