This one may seem obvious, but it's the most important part. The easiest way to support local small businesses is to SHOP local small businesses. While the tradition of window-shopping small businesses might be hindered this year due to the pandemic, many local shops have capitalized on the online marketplace. And the interesting thing is that a lot of small businesses are able to service demand more quickly than larger, mainstream retailers. Curbside pick-up is more and more common these days and with help from independent delivery options, home delivery that once seemed uneconomical is now achievable. So when you're surfing the web for your last minute gifts, make sure you also search for local providers. And, don't forget about gift cards and certificates! And remember, they don't necessarily need to be a gift for someone - consider buying a gift card that you can use later on.
Write A Review
Small businesses thrive on word of mouth advertising and testimonials. In an increasing virtual world, consumers are relying on reviews and ratings from Google, Yelp, and everywhere in between. Leaving an honest star rating is a good first step, but take it a step further. What specific details can you share about your experience? How did the shop owner go above and beyond to meet your needs? What are the things that you enjoyed most that earned your repeat business? Share all of these experiences in a written review. Not only will the business appreciate it, but prospective customers respond to and trust real-life experiences much more than a simple 4 or 5-star rating.
At the very least, give your favorite local shop(s) a "Like" or "Follow" on your social platform of choice. As a follower, you'll be able to stay up to date with the latest products and services and any upcoming events and have the chance to share them with your network. With that in mind, don't be afraid to engage! Comment on posts and tag friends who you feel might be interested in what your local favorite is offering. Is one of your friends asking for a recommendation? Take a moment and tag the business or shop owner in a comment. In doing so, you'll play a part in growing organic reach and extend the "algorithm life" of existing and future posts. A quick "like" is important, but taking the extra minute to write a comment and start a conversation is way more impactful.
Refer A Friend
One of the most rewarding ways to give back and support local businesses aside from being a customer yourself is to directly drive new businesses. Directly referring a friend takes it one step further than writing an online review. Take your friend shopping to your favorite shop next time and introduce them to the owner. Have a contractor that you rely on for all of your home projects? Introduce them to your neighbor who is starting a home renovation. Remember, people are much more likely to do business with people they trust. By referring a friend directly to a small business, you are the initial trust bridge between your friend and local business.
This one might not apply to everyone, but it's worth highlighting. What skills or professional experience can you lean on to support your favorite local business? Are you an independent accountant? Maybe a social media marketer? Perhaps a legal professional? As a holiday gift, why not offer a free trial or consultation to your favorite local shop. Be sure to go into it with no strings attached and full intention of supporting the small businesses and not expecting anything in return. You might be surprised at how your goodwill and interest in supporting local business might pay dividends for you down the road.
Small businesses represent the heart and soul of the business world. They are the foundation for our collective economic success. But, the things that make small businesses most special are the shop owners and store employees. Behind every counter, register, and even computer screen is a person. After time, we might forget the products or services we once purchased, but it's the shop owners and their employees that we remain steadfast in our memory. Remember, people do business with people.