How to Build a Community to Help Your Small Business

How to Build a Community to Help Your Small Business

You recently moved to town to open a shop in a heavily-trafficked area. The problem? You have very few customers—just a couple passersby and no repeats.

So how can you transform your store into the hottest shop in town? It all comes down to building a community. Here, we offer a few ideas on how small business owners can build their communities to attract organic, recurring business.

Start Speaking

You’re working at your shop during the day, so why not hold an industry-specific seminar in the evening at your local Chamber of Commerce? People are often willing to learn something new, so tap into your skill set and hold a speaking engagement that can help others.

If you own a CPA firm, try offering a seminar about tax preparedness tips. If you’re a clothing store owner, hold a styling seminar for your target demographic. Better yet, bring a few of your items from the shop and offer them at a discount. You can also opt to hold the event at a community center or even onsite at your shop.

You may want to go the informal route and try passing out your business cards and talking up your company wherever you go, whether you’re in line at the post office or at your local coffee shop.

Get Involved

Call up a local nonprofit and ask if they’re looking for volunteers. Consider volunteering your time or even joining its board of directors. Host an event at your store where a portion of proceeds will benefit the charity. Tip: Call your local newspaper before holding this event. These types of occasions can attract excellent press attention.

You could even think about giving your employees a few paid days off per year to use working at local charities. This can also be a great way to get attention with the local press.

Engage Online

Choose one or two social media channels to engage in and talk with your customers several times a day on those channels. Hold social media-specific raffles, and ask clients to submit photos for contests. The more you communicate with them online, the more they’ll think of you when they need your product or service.

Partner with Other Businesses

Look at the other small businesses in your area—what types of companies compliment yours? For example, boutique shop owners could partner with massage therapists to give chair massages at in-store events. Make friends with the shop owners in your area and collaborate on referral bonuses. You could see a business uptick in no time.

Hold Regular Events

Events can be customer magnets. Consider holding an event where you—and maybe even another expert—can teach the community something that’s relevant to your business. Try scheduling a kid-friendly event with entertainers. These types of occurrences can build goodwill in your community.

Build a Loyalty Program

Customers love loyalty programs, so create one that involves a punch card and a free gift after a certain number of purchases. That way, customers will be encouraged to return and you’ll have the opportunity to build lasting relationships.

Katie Morell

About the Author

@katiemorell

San Francisco-based, writes about business, travel, social justice and human interest topics. Contributes to Fast Company, Hemispheres, The Guardian, Consumers Digest, OPEN Forum, BBC Travel & others.

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