Love local…make it a strategy, not an idea

9 out of 10 Australians prefer to buy locally made products (Ref: Eloise Keating Smart Company 06/1/2016)

According to all the surveys coming out, locally made, is increasing in popularity.

Local is very much being used more in conversation, but what is “local”? According to the dictionary, local means “existing in or belonging to the area where you live, or to the area that you are talking about.” The definition of “local” is as confusing as ever and as a result as a business you need decide on your definition of local and communicate this to the consumer.

Placing a sign on a product or outside the store telling people you are local and expecting sales to increase is not that simple.

I was recently working with a small business that promoted “Buy Local” and I asked one of the team why I, as a consumer, should support local products and businesses. I got a blank look and an eventual “I don’t know.”

I am an advocate of supporting local businesses and local products, but it is more than telling people you are local on a sign

Research indicates that if we buy from local suppliers and retailers $73 in every $100 stays in the community compared with $43 in every $100 staying in the community if we purchase non local or shop at a chain. One of the keys to shopping local is to ensure money keeps circulating in the community.

Local is not only an Australian trend, it is a global trend with many communities developing local campaigns, the key is to develop a strategy that really works for your business.

The key is to work with your team to engage them in building a local strategy.

When developing a strategy, the following ideas may help you get the message across.

1. Blackboards/sandwich boards give the right image

We live in a world of social media and getting the message across via social media is important, but do not forget that traditional methods are still important. Blackboards in store promoting the product can allow you to be topical and provide the right image.

A message on a blackboard can put a smile on the customers face and generate sales. I love a sandwich board placed outside of a pub in London after a robbery overnight, it read “This pub is so good that someone tried to get in eight hours before we open!”

Sandwich boards can humanize the business. If you are a local business place pictures up of yourselves, it means the business has a face.

2. Provide a map instore showing where the product comes from

Consumers are becoming more aware of where produce comes from. Have a picture of the producer and a map showing where they are located. This help with getting the message across. The shorter the “field to fork” journey the better for all concerned.

3. Support local community groups and show who you support

It is more than selling local, it is about engaging with the local community. Select which community groups your business should engage with and use this as a promotional tool in the community.

4. Train the team on why “local” is important

People buy from people, and the more your team can engage with the consumer and explain why local is important, the more credibility the business has in the customer’s eyes. Not only train them on the merits of local, but make sure they engage with the consumer, especially non-local issues.

Local gives local businesses an opportunity to be entrepreneurs in their community. Large organisations need time to make changes, local business can do it tomorrow.

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