Over the last fifteen years I have worked with local small businesses and non-profits who were all trying to find ways to get more exposure in their community. As in most small towns, word of mouth and location alone do wonders for organizational outreach. The thing is, word of mouth and location don’t always mean the same thing they did a decade ago.
I hear this thought over and over again when talking to friends and business owners that “not everyone is on social media” and while that is technically true, it’s also wildly misguided. For some reason when it comes to a local mentality we think that social doesn’t work the way it does for larger issues. The same friends who tell me that their mom is not going to see advertising on social are also constantly fighting with them about “something they saw on facebook.” Nearly 25% of Facebook users are between the ages of 45 and 75 and in the US that number is higher.
Now imagine if instead of paying 3-10x for newspaper print ads or radio commercials, that do not have the ability to micro target audiences by demographics and interests, these companies invested those marketing dollars where their customers attention actually is today, in the palm of their hand. Location, location, location.
The ability to reach more people and to reach the specific people through optimal targeting is astounding, but then of course… what about the others? What was the other thing we said at the beginning? Yes, that is where word of mouth comes in.
It is not enough to treat social media like a bulletin board inside your business. To hang a sign that says your daily specials and hope someone walks by and sees it. Content is the variable of your success. Can you be fun, engaging, informative, helpful, can you show personality, can you bring value to that person on the other end of the screen? It’s easier than you think. Most of the time all you have to do, is be yourself.
If you are a lawyer, simply give the advice you’d give anyone in a consultation. If you’re a restaurant, show us the food cooking on the grill and the staff having a good time. If you’re a non-profit, bring us inside the stories of the communities you serve. If you’re a local sandwich shop whose customers are other business owners… find a way to spotlight them! There are an endless amount of ideas for an endless amount of unique businesses and individuals.
You no longer have to wait for someone to come in, or walk by, to know who you are and have a positive feeling when they think about your business. That is called Brand, and in classic terms, reputation.
It’s the same formula that people and businesses have used for hundreds of years. The only difference is that it has never been less expensive to be this connected. So reach out and touch someone’s life, form a relationship with your community. It’s time that Main Street embraces the current way of doing business, because we’ve been waiting for you.