While it's important to have a quality product and make smart financial decisions, a big mistake local digital companies make is thinking perception doesn't matter. In today's world, it's important for consumers to feel like they can trust your business, especially when you're a small or medium-sized business (SMB) serving a local community. This is where brand authenticity comes into play.
Connect With Customers
Today's consumers want to feel a connection with a brand before they consider making a purchase. They want their hard-earned money to support something they believe in. Burt's Bees explained it donates a percentage of its proceeds to initiatives that support human and honeybee health, which attests to this shifting attitude. This company is vocal about its charitable efforts, and consumers have shown they're willing to pay more to support it as a result, even though it might not be the least expensive or even the best option. However, because consumers view this brand as authentic and it aligns with their values, they pay more.
Now, while your SMB might not have the resources to donate money regularly to a big charity, the fact is you can still form relationships with consumers. In fact, local businesses may just have the advantage here.
Make a Local Impact
While consumers who buy Burt's Bees lip balm have to make their purchase and trust that their money is going towards a cause they support, local businesses can boost up their community in actionable, visible ways. Columnist Brian Smith suggested in a Search Engine Land article that local SMBs create and sponsor community events to help with authenticity. However, that's not the only way businesses can boost their local street cred. Offering discounts for students and teachers, encouraging frequent customers to leave a review and even sourcing certain items from your business from the community will all help your business increase its local profile and convey an authentic image.
Respond to Customers
It's also important for businesses to actually talk to consumers, and not just when they're visiting physical locations. Responding to messages via social media, leaving comments on posts and picking up the phone are all essential ways to connect with your community and remind them your business is here for them.
While it may seem hard for local businesses to establish themselves in communities where big-box shops have a larger presence, the fact is local SMBs actually have an advantage here, as they can connect with members of the community in a way that bigger businesses simply can't. It's essential these companies take advantage of their unique ability to reach local consumers and impact communities positively, so they'll boost everyone involved.