Small businesses are the backbones of many local communities. They have helped to revitalize many communities and may benefit communities in ways that would surprise even the most ardent small businesses supporters.
Economists at Penn State University studied data on economic growth and residence status of business owners that was from more than 2,900 rural and urban communities. The researchers found that small, locally owned businesses tend to generate higher incomes for community residents than large, non-local firms.
Small businesses can be vital to the success of a community, and those businesses' own success may depend on how well they can market themselves to potential customers. The Small Business Administration notes that only one-third of small businesses will survive 10 years. Those that reach that benchmark often find ways to market themselves and grow revenue. Whether a small business owner is just starting out or looking to continue growing, these marketing strategies can be effective ways to connect with customers.
■Take advantage of the free Google listing service. Google My Business is a free service that allows business owners to manage how their business appears across Google, including on its Search and Map services. A Google listing is essentially the new phonebook listing, as the "Local Consumer Review Survey 2018" from the marketing experts at BrightLocal found that 27% of consumers looked online daily for local businesses in 2018. That's more than double the number of people who did so in 2017, suggesting that more and more consumers are finding local businesses via internet searches every day.
■Pay attention to your online reviews. Online reviews can be a mixed bag for business owners and consumers, but reviews still bear considerable weight among the latter. The BrightLocal survey found that 50% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 always read online reviews when shopping for goods or services. Consumers are most likely to read restaurant reviews, but small businesses, regardless of their industries, can benefit from positive online reviews.
■Take part in local festivals. Local events such as Oktoberfest festivals and holiday shopping bazaars provide great opportunities to connect with new customers. Such events tend to attract residents of the community and even those from neighboring towns, providing ample opportunities for small businesses to connect with new customers.
■Make your presence known on social media. A 2017 survey from the social media specialists at Sprout Social found that 58% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media than they are to buy from one they do not follow.
Small business owners who learn to market their businesses can contribute much to their bottom lines and their local communities.