It doesn’t take a lot of convincing to get the point across that there are many big companies out there, big corporations that seem to have taken over certain sectors. There’s Amazon, Netflix, Disney, Biomax, NBC, Hulu, Wal-Mart. When it comes to retail and other big-box corporations, it’s so easy to shop with these people.
Covid-19 made that even more true. We’re seeing huge growth with DoorDash, Postmus, Ubereats, and the fast-food chains, many of which have actually seen the best numbers they’ve ever seen through this Covid-19 pandemic. So who’s been suffering the most? It is the small local businesses, the mom and pop shops, the brick and mortar places. I mean, specifically within the food and nightlife industry and those places that have a physical store that are restricted to their local area. That is very, very unfortunate.
Will 20201 be the comeback year for small local businesses? Personally, I think so. I’m optimistic and I also am hopeful that generally, our population is going to swing back and put more focus on local shops, buying local, local farmers markets, etc. There are certainly pros and cons, but I am a believer that the pros far outweigh the cons? That customer service, the personal touch, the local expertise outweighs that extra margin that you’re probably paying for something that’s more local, instead of going straight to Amazon.
There are more than a few reasons I’m confident that 2021 will be the year that small businesses come back and I have statistics to prove it. Did you know that small businesses generate $68 of local economic return for every one hundred dollars spent with them? In case you’re wondering, that’s a very high return. That means that over 9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy if every U.S. family spent just ten dollars a month at a local business. That’s a lot of money.
Did you also know that businesses with fewer than 500 employees account for 99.7% of all U.S. employers? Small businesses are the backbone of America.
Did you know 108 million shoppers spent 12.9 billion on small business Saturday? That’s optimistic. I love that fact.
Small businesses also donate 250% more than large businesses to community causes, employ 58.9 million people, and generate 70 % more local economic activity per square foot than big-box retail. Those are some very interesting statistics that should make you optimistic for the future of local and small businesses.
Big Red Jelly is very passionate about working with small and mid-sized businesses and helping them leverage technology and effective branding, effective web design and digital build to compete with the “big guys”. Here are four simple tactics you can implement to make sure your small business makes a strong comeback.
Take Control of Your Brand
The first thing that will help your small business make a comeback is to take control of your brand. You would think it would be easier for small businesses, but for some reason, we see that it’s harder for small businesses to develop a strong brand. There are a few aspects of your brand that you need to define: your visual identity, establishing yourself as an expert, and figuring out how to be a superhero for your customer.
Get Visual With Your Brand
If you are a small business owner reading this right now, ask yourself these questions. What is your business name? Is that related to your website domain name? Do you have a website domain name? Are your social media handles or at least the page titles for your Facebook and your LinkedIn and your Instagram? Are they the same? Does your email signature have the same company name? Do you have the same logo across all these platforms? Are you using the same colors? Are using the same fonts, are using the same general short description? Do you have a cohesive message across platforms? The answer is probably, maybe or not as much as I would like.
I continue to be shocked at very small businesses that have maybe a dozen people working there, but they’ve got an umbrella brand with a branch that does this and another logo that does that. There are universal global brands out there that are more simple, streamline, and that flow better than what you’ve got going on here with your 12 people. You’ve got to take control of your brand. What colors are you using? Is your logo consistent throughout? Have you updated all of your social media, your website, your email signature, things that are quick and easy? When you focus on having a simple, clear visual brand identity for your business customers are able to find and recognize you easier.
Establish Yourself As an Expert
Part of taking control of your brand is establishing yourself as an expert. If there are Facebook groups, communities, networking events related to what you do, you should be involved and you should be solidifying and positioning yourself as someone with expertise. You should be saying for example, “hey, I am the barber and I know how to cut hair.” I am in these groups. I always offer advice. I’m involved in the community.
Be A Superhero For Your Customer
Finally, you need to take control of your brand by building a reputation of being a superhero for your customer. When someone comes to you to do business, what are you doing to be a superhero for that customer? What are you doing so that when they leave they say, “I’m glad I picked this restaurant over McDonald’s. Wow. That customer service was amazing.” It’s the little things that matter like that chocolate on the pillow at the hotel. It’s remembering their name. It’s putting that better packaging, that custom-written thank you note. If you are an e-commerce store, it’s things like that that take it to a whole other level. That’s why people love shopping locally. Be the superhero for a customer and customers will start remembering your brand.
2. Use Google My Business
The second thing small businesses can do to make a comeback in 2021 is to use Google My Business. This one is a very practical tool. What is Google My Business? It is your Google listings. When you type in “best Chinese near me”, there’s a bunch of restaurants that pop up on your phone when you use the internet, Apple Maps, Google Maps, or some other maps. Whatever is popping up there most likely is Google my business or it’s dictated by Google my business.
If you are a brick and mortar local business, you have a story of a physical location. If you are a restaurant, a chiropractor, a dentist, an attorney, a barber, a salon owner, a spa owner, you need to go and set up your Google My Business. It’s a free tool. It’s the place where you manage Google reviews, it’s where you put your phone number directions, your address. It’s where you can post deals, promotions, special offers, photos of your office, photos of outside your office, photos of your storefront, photos of your team. You can describe your services, hours of operation when you’re open, and when you’re closed. It really is your website before your website. The vast majority of people who encounter your brand or business for the first time are going to see that. They’re never even going to visit your website which is why your Google My Business needs to be on point. If it’s missing information or the address is incorrect or the picture that you see there is like an old parking lot that I see all the time, it’s got to be updated.
I really kind of hit my head against the wall when I bump into small business owners who say they’ve never even heard of Google My Business or that it’s just where they can respond to their Google reviews. Often people will think it’s just Google who makes those listings. The listing for your business might already exist because Google is going through and kind of creating these listings based on customer feedback so you may need to claim ownership of your business.
Google My Business also has a mobile app so you can respond to reviews on the go. The best part of all this is that it’s free. It’s free! You can take control of your Google My Business and see real results. I challenge you to be active there at least once per week just by posting something.. In fact, we did a little exercise regularly quite a while ago where we would post just a photo of our office and a team member update on our Google My Business profile. We saw an 11.9% increase in our website visitors directly from Google By Business to our website after just over a month. So think about that. Was it worth taking five seconds to upload that photo? Absolutely. Using Google My Business can help your small business make a comeback in 2021.
3. Focus on Strategic Partnerships
The third thing small businesses can do in 2021 to make a comeback is to focus on strategic partnerships. In order to survive and to succeed, I think local businesses have to be better at partnering strategically. If I am a burger joint, I might want to partner with the local barbershop. I might want to partner with the pool or the pool next door. I might want to partner with the four-wheel rental next door and do cool promos or combined activities or co-branded events. For example, I may say, “Hey, come get a burger and test drive a four-wheeler or every time you rent a four-wheeler you get 50% off a burger.” We have to start getting strategic with partnerships.
Big businesses are doing it all the time. They’re just doing it behind the scenes. I’m sure there are a lot of moving parts there. If local businesses can be more strategic, it’s a win-win for everyone. Find someone that can benefit you. If you’re a chiropractor you should definitely have strategic partners in the insurance space. If you’re an insurance agent, you should definitely have your go-to chiropractors that you can refer people to. That way you build your network.
If done correctly, it ends up being mutually beneficial. My challenge to you is to sit down and draw a Venn diagram. Think to yourself, “ If I am a burger joint, what are related businesses to me?” You might decide you want to find an ice cream place because I don’t do desserts but people always come to me and ask me about that. You might also want to find an event planner or someone who does catering but doesn’t actually do the food themselves. You might want to find someone who’s a foodie blogger. You might want to find someone who does merch and I can give them free burgers in exchange for some free merch. There are endless possibilities. But most importantly, have that strategic partner list. You’ll be surprised how much you use it.
4. Get online and make technology your friend through automation.
The fourth thing small businesses should do to make a comeback in 2021 is to get online and make technology your friend through automation. Check out Big Red Jelly’s videos to learn more about this.
In a small business, you wear a lot of hats. You might be representing 80 percent of your business as the chef and the cashier and the server all the same time. You might have felt overwhelmed at first, but with technology and automation, you can feel like a team of twelve. On any given day, you have to make technology your friend. There are certain things that you should be working toward including automating invoices, automatic reminders for your invoices, automatic text or email follow-ups to confirm appointments, online scheduling, online ordering, online booking, online chat. These all make your life easier. You have all these tools, these little robots that are working for you.
Often people don’t know where to start and it can feel scary to implement new technology. One important thing to remember is that there is a lot of free stuff out there. I’m happy to chat with you about how you can make technology your friend. You can schedule a time to talk about digital tools with me here. Don’t be scared. It’s intimidating at first, but it will ultimately help you scale your business.
So will 2021 be the year of the comeback for small and local businesses? I think so. By following these four steps you can do more than you’ve ever done before. Take control of your brand. Use Google my business. Focus on strategic partnerships. Make technology your friend.
For more tips and tricks for small businesses and big businesses alike check out our weekly Facebook live here.