Small town businesses have certain advantages over big city businesses. One is that we have the luxury of educating customers, knowing that if they like what they learn, they are likely to make the resulting purchase from us.
In a big city, running a tasting or a sampling or a class takes the risk that the potential customers will “take advantage” of the free education and then spread out to make their eventual purchases at any one of the many competitors in the metro area.
In a small town, you can offer a tasting or a class or sample your wares knowing that your customers have a lot fewer buying choices. They also have a stronger bond to you because you are part of the same community. You can worry much less about people taking advantage of your generosity. Your customers may delay buying, but they’ll be back one of these days.
For example, my mother used to teach wine appreciation classes through Northwest Technology Center. She couldn’t make any sales at the event. But of course, her store carried all the wines she sampled in the class. We always knew to order extra of the wines she’d be teaching in class, because the customers would come.
A few years back, we did all the work to organize a wine tasting at the Nescatunga Arts Festival. We invited Oklahoma wineries, and we also set up a booth and shared some wines from our stock. The wineries were legally allowed to sell right on site. We were not. But we didn’t mind the delayed sales. We knew a few people would still come make a purchase from us. And they did.
For a small town business, a delayed sale is still a sale, and it’s worth investing in educating your customers to make that sale.
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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.