What’s so special about small businesses?

What’s so special about small businesses? Location, location, location. And by location, I mean LOCAL!

Even Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and the Oracle of Omaha, touts the benefits of local markets by spending roughly $350 million to acquire 28 local newspapers a few years back. Buffet has faith that small businesses flourish with the support of local marketing within their communities. Let’s get your small business to flourish. Here are the top 4 local business growth strategies that need to be in your business plan:

Tip #1: Create a plan that places your business at the center.

This plan is best illustrated with a community map in the form of a hub and spoke design – your business at the hub and each spoke representing key segments of your market. The process of creating a community map helps a small business understand the various market segments that are critical for their success, both digitally and offline. Who does a business need to connect with civically? What local organizations share the business’s mission and/or vibe? In answering questions like these, a business not only develops a powerful segmentation for social media marketing but also a sales strategy rooted in a thorough knowledge of the marketplace. At Red Root Marketing, we developed a proprietary process for creating these powerful community maps that essentially lay out a sales segmentation that can be implemented through social media marketing or via old school 1:1 methods. The spokes, or segments, when fleshed out with actual organizations, companies and groups, will lead many businesses to succeed in tip #2.

Tip #2: Develop events that integrate your business into the community.

Many businesses, large and small, set up shop, do a bit of marketing and wait for the customers to come on in. In practice, though, general marketing isn’t enough to get people through the door. Events are the perfect amplifier for your message. Events that integrate the business with the community, participating in civic and community activities or creating a fun pop-up occasion in the store, provide another reason for a customer or prospective customer to sample your business. Sometimes, the best events are done in collaboration with a partner which leads us to tip #3.

Tip #3: Partner with other business along the value chain.

Local business partners with related products or services aren’t the competition. Done right, the symbiotic relationship can elevate both of your businesses. While bundling the products and services is always an option, there is also a benefit of just combining and sharing audiences to increase your business’s exposure and impact. The resulting collaboration as well as any shared event provides great content for your marketing and promotional messages, which leads us to tip #4.

Tip #4: Establish relationships with local print and digital media outlets.

In our area, we have many print weeklies, monthly magazines and daily digital outlets that provide a voice for small businesses. ROI varies with the most expensive being traditional ad placements. In our experience, the best return lies with promotion via press releases distributed to those same media outlets. However, to get the press release noticed and shared, it is helpful to have a pre-existing advertising relationship with the various media outlets. The result is greater media coverage for lower ad spend overall. So, when you’re considering the full value of a display ad, for example, consider the full set of offerings the media platform includes for their advertisers. To help you understand who your media partners and other audience segments are, proceed directly to tip #5.

Tip #5: Attend Red Root Marketing’s Community Mapping Workshop this February!

Red Root Marketing is a hyper-local social media and business strategy agency. This month, Red Root Marketing is offering a workshop for small businesses looking to understand their audiences better and create a community map for their business to increase online engagement and sales. Sign up here (two dates available: February 6 or 15):

www.redrootlearnlocalcommunityhub.eventbrite.com. $55 per person, limited spots available.