During a college leadership activity, a mentor gathered a group at a local park to talk about strength in numbers. In some instances, it was important to understand that you may need to “go it alone” to get things done, and “group think” often results in bad decision making, but when people of a like mind/shared expectations bond together they can achieve more. To emphasize the point, he had everyone gather two small sticks. He asked everyone if they could break the first stick over their leg (which everyone easily accomplished). Our mentor then gathered the remaining stick from everyone and gathered them in a bundle. He attempted (unsuccessfully) to break the bundle over his leg, and invited everyone else to try (no one else could do it either). It was a vivid illustration of strength through solidarity.
During the holiday season, it is really easy for businesses to become myopic. Christmas is a critical time for most businesses, and business owners need to market themselves effectively to have a chance of success. As businesses focus on the “me”, they often lose sight of customers that are more interested in the overall experience of a “we”. Remember, consumers that shop physical locations typically won’t conduct all of their spending in a singular space, and when consumers make planned buying decisions they often concentrate on all the things they can accomplish in a defined time period. If you want to effectively market to consumers, you need to understand their holiday shopping mind set to effectively communicate. You, your business social media accounts, and your staff can play a critical role in highlighting a holiday shopping culture that supports local businesses.
Here are a few points of emphasis this holiday season:
1. Make yourself (and your staff) into a community testimonial.- The modern entrepreneur is more than just a business operator. Small business owners drive community culture. Share what you love about your community, your business, and other businesses this holiday season. Your love will encourage others to share their positive feelings, and drive community support.
2. Tag your partners.- Work with other businesses. Shop from other local businesses. Support local events. THEN, tag businesses, organizations, and activities when you are showing your support.
3. Make it easy to share.- Emporia Main Street is quickly approaching 12,000 “Likes” on Facebook, with thousands of other followers on Instagram, Twitter, and other electronic platforms. When you share items with us, you can expose your message to a host of other potential customers.
4. Tell your good news stories.- Some customer interactions during the holiday season can be interesting… When you have good interactions, share them! People love to hear about positive news that involves locals or out-of-town customers that you formed a special relationship with.
5. Take pictures/video of your favorite things.- Don’t just rely on text to convey your love of local. Take pictures, shoot video, and bring people into your mind’s eye so they can understand why you enjoy the unique local offerings that you are sharing.
6. Encourage “the experience”.- Remember, people aren’t out to do just one thing on a holiday excursion. Share the variety of things that they can do locally that fall within a true hometown experience. The unique mixture of events, businesses, and local personalities that you showcase can communicate the fun spirit of our region.
7. Purposely build advocacy.- You can’t successfully build a culture alone. When people comment about your activities, encourage them to do their own advocacy. Positive peer pressure can encourage positive mind sets.
8. BE AUTHENTIC.- If you want people to shop local, you have to shop local. If you want people to discount your local advocacy, simply make sure your actions don’t match your words.
9. SEND US YOUR ACTIVITIES!- Beyond tagging, send Emporia Main Street basic information on your special shopping activities for the holiday season. For example, if you have specials for after Thanksgiving, an open house coming up, or something else you want to pass along, you might want to send us that information NOW (just email email@example.com ).
Be mindful of your influence this holiday season! You can make a difference in your community by sharing your positive experiences with those around you. When you share your excitement, others get excited to match your energy (and couldn’t we all use a little more energy this time of year?). As we head into the home stretch of 2019, set a community example by taking a little extra time to share your perspective.