9 in 10 Americans believe it is important for people to support the small businesses they value in their neighborhood.
What does that mean for multi-location businesses, franchises, dealer networks, etc? It means there continues to be a rising wave of buying local.
Customers want to support their local business. They appreciate the service and local knowledge that accompanies doing business with them. So how can multi-locations compete and take advantage of this local opportunity when people view large corporations as nameless and faceless organizations only out to maximize profits?
Your brand name has a lot of power and can stand for great quality, but it also says dull, safe bet, non-customized service. Is there a way to combine the power of your brand with the personalization and enthusiasm people have for supporting local businesses? Of course there is. It’s all about local credibility.
The most important thing you can do to change your image is to enhance your local credibility. Make yourself more local. Because most multi-location businesses are local. You are local. The store is often locally owned, their people are local, and when you call them you are dealing with a local store and not a call center. The only thing not local about the business is the brand.
Your people live in their communities, volunteer in their communities, and raise their kids there. They are as local as you get and generally utilize the corporate brand and processes to help them grow their businesses. Remember, though, when you tell your customer that you are local, they might be looking at you like the skeptical kid below. When they look at your website or business, they are looking you over to determine if you really are local. And the first hint of inauthenticity will have them jumping to the next site or store.
So, let’s ensure our customers know we are local and how we are local by looking at three great ways to remind your customer that you are local.
- Personify your location
- Show your community involvement
- Create and use local trust symbols
Personify Your Location
Show your people and share your stories. Don’t make your location faceless. The key to a local business is it feels like everyone knows your name and your story. They know that the store owner or manager went to the local state college and has three kids that go to school around the corner from the store. They might even know that you play slow pitch softball in the evenings, coach your kid’s little league team, and donate to the local food pantry. So the question becomes, how do you show this? One way is on the local store website’s About Us page.
About Us is one of the most visited pages on a site. There are several reasons for this:
- Customers want to know what motivates you, such as why you got into this business.
- Customers are looking for a way to know how long you have been around and if you can be trusted.
- They want to see why they should buy from you over other businesses offering the same services.
Another way to personify your business is to allow them to blog on their own or to save them time, posts blogs for them in their name. Then people who are reading the site or find it through search know who is running that local store.
Talk To Customers
The final way to personify your local store is to make sure your store managers are talking to their customers. And you don’t have to talk strictly business – be a friend. (But don’t go overboard, as you are there to earn business and not just talk about the weather). Make your store or in-home visits feel like the customer is a part of the community.
Bottom line, make it human and show photos of your people on your website that also tell their story. Do this, and the customer realizes you are part of their tribe and community, making them more likely to do business with you.
Show Your Community Involvement
What do your people do in the community? Do they sponsor events, do days of service, participate in parades? The more specific impact they have on the community, the better. So don’t just say they worked with United Way. Talk about the local division of United Way they worked with and what they did that impacted the local community.
Customers like seeing you a part of the community and there is no better way to be a part of the community than by serving it. You can even be involved through the way you sponsor community events. Whether it be the local parade, sponsoring community festivals, or creating a local meetup, you will be more local the more you get involved. This not only helps PR efforts, but it will help sales as well.
Create & Use Local Trust Symbols
A “local trust symbol” is similar to normal trust symbols except instead of only making your website trustworthy, they help consumers trust that you are a local business.
For online customers, there is nothing more important than local trust symbols to highlight that you aren’t just a national company with a local branch. Using local trust symbols online is easiest when you have a local website. If you don’t have a site for each local store, it can still be done, but isn’t quite as effective. Some local trust symbols are:
- A locally relevant domain name, i.e. a domain that might be something like OurNameChicago.com.
- A local address on every page of the site.
- A local phone number on every page of the website.
- Local photography that uses the imagery of your city.
- Using local names, idioms, and other unique language to your local area. For example, mentioning Hoosiers on the site in Indiana or other local terminology.
- Content that talks about your products or services in relation to the local market. Such as articles about getting ready for winter for a heating company in Boston or getting ready for summer for heating & air companies in Miami.
- Pictures & video of your people on the website.
- Local BBB & Yelp listing easily available on every page.
- Angie’s List or other relevant service awards listed.
One of our local business clients has worked hard to build trust that they aren’t just some local reseller of national security services. They have found local trust symbols to be key to their business. They have their phone and address on every page. They even have a unique logo that shows how many years they have been serving the Indiana community. They also make it easy to see their BBB listing and even access their reviews on Angie’s List. On top of that, they have a video where the business owner talks about their service. And they talk about the Indianapolis area in their marketing and blogs.
At the end of the day, building local credibility will help ensure potential customers pick up the phone for your locations and not someone else’s. And building that credibility can be easier than you think, especially if you have built out a solution to make it easier for each location to take action. If you need help figuring that out, give us a call.
Photo credits: 123rf.com/talanis and 123rf.com/moodboard