Since our book Small Town Rules was released by Que Publishing this year, Barry Moltz and I have been sharing lots of videos, interviews, and guest posts all over the web. So I’m offering this series to share some of these ideas here. Even if you aren’t interested in the book itself, you can learn something from the principles we’ll be sharing.
(Don’t see the video? Click through to Small Biz Survival to view it.)
Local flavor is the antidote to a single, bland national culture. This is how we respect our own local tastes, our local flavor, our local foods certainly, but also our own local culture, also, and the things that make each location different and interesting.
The rule is to build your local connections, and there are two ways to do that. The first is to connect with your culture and place. That means you have to know your local culture and place. That involves looking at your location and noticing those things you never think about, the things that you never think about. I’m from western Oklahoma, and we’re very much a frontier and cowboy kind of place, even though we’re not all cowboys. That culture pervades a lot of what we do here, and influences how we do business. If you’re from a different place, your culture is going to be completely different. For example, rural Maine has a completely different culture. It’s a matter for you to look at your business and the culture that your business should be a part of. And you have to understand it first before you can be part of it.
The second step is to use your local story to build engagement. It part of moving through the cycles of know, like, and trust, to buy because they know you better. You do that by telling your stories. Sharing your connection to your culture is a way of accelerating that, of giving them a framework for understanding you better. Giving pieces of your local culture and telling those stories, helps people to better know you.
If you can, and if it makes sense for your business, be involved in a shop local campaign. If you’re a small business located in a neighborhood or small town, then definitely get involved in your local campaign. For a big business, get involved in the way that makes sense for your business. You can support a local campaign directly or indirectly. If your business covers a lot of territory, you talk about shop local in each area where you are local. Either you have a location in that area, or you use products from that area. You can connect to what is local in that area. Share your local ingredients. Share the efforts you’re making to support the local community and to protect the local environment. All of those give the markers of quality that your customers are looking for when they make a decision about what’s local and what they are going to support.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.