(Family Features) When it comes to offering specialized, one-on-one support and niche product offerings, nothing beats shopping with a locally-owned small business.
In a recent survey fielded by The UPS Store to get the pulse of business in America, 94 percent of consumers believe that supporting small companies within their community is important. The survey also found that consumers are increasingly willing to spend more money and travel further out of their way to shop with a small business.
“We know that small businesses are a vital part of our neighborhoods and our entire economy,” said Tim Davis, president of The UPS Store. “Small business owners, from startups to well-established neighborhood businesses, have the ability to make a big impact within their community and beyond.”
As an entrepreneur, you may wonder how you can cash in on this rising popularity and expand your own enterprise to reach these quality-seeking customers. Here are a few ways to make a big impact with your small business:
1. Go above and beyond for customers
While it seems companies keep getting bigger, instances of excellent customer service seem to be dwindling. Due to this widespread lack of quality, many individuals are choosing to support small business when it comes to obtaining what they need. Small companies have the unique opportunity to provide one-on-one attention to their customers. Those who excel at enticing and serving customers set themselves apart from the competition.
2. Get involved in your community
Some of the best marketing you can provide your small company is with involvement in philanthropic efforts in your local community. Though restricted budgets cause some small businesses to keep charity to a minimum, there are a variety of other meaningful ways to show your organization’s generosity. Give your time to charitable causes related to your field. For example, if you sell pet products, offer to volunteer at a local animal shelter. Or, if your field is architecture, get your company involved in organizations that build homes for families in need. If you have employees, encourage them to also help out. Sponsor a company-wide volunteer event at a local food pantry or offer paid time off for such charitable endeavors.
3. Make products and services stand out
As a small business owner, you have the advantage over big box stores who lack specialized knowledge. Offer your customer base a niche product or service that can’t be found elsewhere. Give them quality, both in the product and customer support, and your business will reap the rewards of happy, repeat customers and word-of-mouth promotion. If you offer several products, but find that most customers want only one or two offerings, focus on increasing the quality on that area of business.
4. Share your knowledge through education and mentorship
As a small business owner, you offer those within your community a unique background and expertise. One of the easiest ways to give back is by educating eager minds interested in your field. Whether lecturing at the local college or getting involved in a mentorship program, presenting yourself as a respected colleague not only sheds a positive light on your company, it also helps you build relationships. These relationships can be informal or you can team up with an organization like SCORE to volunteer as a mentor. For more information, visit www.score.org.
5. Expand your reach through technology
Social media allows small businesses to reach a global population like never before. Start small with just one social media outlet and then build on your presence from there. If you have a marketing team, ask that they maintain the account, or hire an outside consultant. Your website is also a powerful tool, so make sure it reflects your business in the way you want to be portrayed. Regularly update your site to keep it current with the changing times. Also, make sure your website is optimized so more people looking for your unique products and services can easily find you.
For other tips for growing your business, visit http://smallbiz.theupsstore.com.
Small Business, Big Impact
For The UPS Store small business customer and author Fred Koehler, making an impact on people’s lives is what gives him genuine satisfaction.
“My small business is not as small as you might think. Through the stories I tell, I get to impact the lives of parents and kids all around the world.”
This celebrated children’s book author of “How to Cheer Up Dad” believes that being an active community member has shaped his success, expanding his business to new heights. Like Koehler’s story? Read more at: http://smallbiz.theupsstore.com/blog.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (flower shop)