Shop Now, Shop Local

shop local

15 Reasons to shop local

Guest post by The Art of Windows and Doors, link at the end of this article

shop local local business

Choosing to shop with your local businesses instead of the large chain stores has many benefits, some of which we are sure will surprise you. As this is the case, we thought we would put together 15 of the best reasons why you should choose your local independent business over a large, commercial supplier. Choosing a local business over their larger counterparts may actually have more positive effects than you think, not just for the company but for everyone involved.

The local economy

Local businesses are the backbone of our economy and often large tourist attractions. But what you may not know is that shopping at a local business, rather than a large chain, is actually better for the economy of your community. To ensure a strong and sustainable local economy foundation people need to buy locally. Research shows that $10 spent with a local independent shop means up to an additional $50 goes back into the local economy. This is simply because the nearby shop owners, who you are spending your money with, will then put that money back into your local community by going into local bars and restaurants etc, thus circulating the money and allowing your community to thrive.

Create local jobs

Shopping with and investing in local businesses means you can have a very strong and positive effect on the health of the local jobs in your area. Small, local businesses are surprisingly the largest employer of jobs nationally and provide the most local jobs to communities. Not only this, but local employers are more likely to pay a higher average wage than their commercial chain counterparts. Helping to grow the number of jobs in your area makes for a better place to live and work which then creates a healthy economy for the community.

Online isn’t always best

For many of us, we believe that the absolute best deals can only be found online. Through TV adverts, radio adverts and online adverts we are constantly shown great deals that seem too good to be true, and often this is sadly the case. However, you might be surprised to see just how competitive the prices are in your local shops and businesses. Find out what your local area can offer you first, before checking online.

Personality and character

The fantastic thing about independent businesses is that they are run by people, not by boards, stockholders or algorithms. As they are run by local people you will usually find that the business/shops building is in keeping with aesthetic of the area, adding character to the community and a touch of warm, welcoming personality, backed-up by this article from Forbes. This natural authenticity will always be more popular than a chain, no matter where in the country.

Customer service and shopping experience

Although many chain businesses do have good customer service, you can’t beat the personal touch of a local owner who knows everyone in the neighbourhood. They can offer you a product that is suitable for you, your house and even your area. Building relationships between the local owner and the local customer goes further than just a purchase. It is also worth remembering that local shops stock an inventory based on their own customer’s choices rather than national fashion trends. This is so you can find what you want rather than finding what they want to sell you.

Healthier Environment

This one might surprise you, but choosing a local company over a chain can actually have a positive impact on the environment. This is because the majority of local companies are found on the high street and are within walking distance, rather than a drive away to the nearest large shopping centre. If more people chose to pop to the local town rather than driving to the superstores, this would considerably reduce air pollution, reduce traffic and improve the quality of the nation’s towns.

Originality and individuality

In a world that is becoming increasingly dominated by chain stores, which have been designed to look the same, independent businesses bring much-needed originality and variety into communities. They can be a real breath of fresh air into an area populated by generic stores and companies.

Entrepreneurs

Through supporting your local businesses, you are actually helping to support local entrepreneurs who once may not have had a chance of getting their company started. Through more people choosing the smaller, local option over the larger chain businesses it is allowing more entrepreneurs to get their foot in the door, thus making for a very healthy economy.

Help to create the identity

Some local businesses will actually help shape the identity of the area. A high street filled with unique, vibrant and colourful shops will attract more tourism and help to make the community a more popular and financially healthier area in which to live and work. There are many places around the world that are known for exactly this. Places such as Perth, Manchester and New York are all full of local companies thriving thanks to a healthy view of independent businesses.

Local business for local charities

Buying locally means that you are actually supporting your own community in more ways than you think. This is because many local businesses support local charities that are particularly relevant to that area, and by shopping locally you are helping to increase the number of local donations. Of course, large chain companies do support charities, and there is no right or wrong one to support, but if you would prefer to help support a local one then buying locally is a great way of doing this.

Healthy competition

The reason local companies have such great and competitive prices is purely thanks to healthy competition. This, of course, goes for all types of companies. A marketplace of thousands of small businesses is the most reliable way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

Tradition

Supporting your local business over their larger, international rivals is somewhat of an Australian tradition. Unlike other countries, who have allowed the chain stores and companies to completely take over their high streets, Australia has always tried to keep the focus on local businesses. We can be a stubborn country who like to keep their traditions going for as long as possible, and in this case we are right to do so.

Innovation

Simply put, independent businesses are where innovation happens; it’s how things move forward and progress. Without the creativity and innovative nature of local businesses and entrepreneurs, industries wouldn’t advance at the rate that they are. Take for instance the coffee shop. Currently at the peak of popularity, chain coffee shops are actually following in the footsteps of independent coffee shops right now. They are doing what they can to blend more into the community and seem more authentic.

Local Government incentives

Local governments often provide tax incentives to entice nationally-owned companies to their communities. However, if these corporations are paying less in taxes it means that local residents are paying more. But, when you buy from local companies it lessens individual tax burdens and creates up to 75% more tax revenues for your community.

If things go wrong

It’s important to know that if anything was to go wrong you have a local company to go to, someone to talk face to face with. Large commercial companies will often provide you with a phone number for their customer service team, which is often not even in the same country, and make you wait for what seems like an eternity until you get to speak to someone. This simply is not the case with a local business. They will often prefer to meet up face to face, rather than on the phone, and find out exactly how they can help fix the problem.

Guest post brought to you by www.artwindowsanddoors.co.uk

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The future of Content Marketing for Small Businesses

content marketing

This is a guest post about micro influence marketing by Philip Piletic, more about Phillip at the end of this article

content marketing future

Print marketing is not dead, it just smells funny

How old is content marketing? Some specialists say as old as cave drawings, but it actually started once companies began to publish their own written content in different forms: Benjamin Franklin released almanacs, Michelin published travel guides, Johnson & Johnson gave informational material to doctors.

In the first half of the 20th-century pioneers such as Procter&Gamble invested in branded radio and television content. Then the Internet Age completely changed the landscape of content marketing. First came landing pages, e-books, articles and later, blogs.

After 2000, content marketing evolved at a fast pace and new forms of content rose to fame, like forums, podcasts, videos, and webinars. Soon after that, the rise of social media offered new opportunities to engage customers, allowing them to interact with brand content and becoming brand ambassadors themselves. Nowadays, marketplaces, content hubs, and personalised experiences are the dominating trends. Brands are trying to connect with consumers on every channel and so much content is produced that returns don’t always follow the efforts.

The future of content marketing

So how about the future of content? As you could guess, it is closely linked to digital development, devices, and artificial intelligence:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) optimization is changing due to a new algorithm in Google’s ranking system, called RankBrain, which is empowered by machine learning capabilities;
  • Virtual assistants in the form of chatbots or voice assistants will dominate the customer experience as they are now improved with Artificial Intelligence;
  • Mobile Accelerated Apps have already been adopted by some global retailers in order to improve mobile loading of search results pages;
  • Video content of tomorrow will offer an immersive experience at home- branded Virtual Reality content is making headlines this year.

However, a small business won’t be able to afford to run complex analytics too soon, invest in accelerated mobile apps, and hire third parties to create VR content or optimize services with super-smart virtual assistants. Entrepreneurs will most likely use a combination of the most efficient old and new tricks to engage their consumers.

Looking for maximum return with a minimum of investment? Below you can find some recipes to boost your company’s content marketing efforts:

Personalization, New and Old Ways

Marketers are crowding our digital inboxes with promotional offers and last-minute buying opportunities, but their attempts are less and less successful. According to this article, MailChimp’s opening rate is less than 30%, but 92% of direct mail gets opened.
Also, print is one of the favorite marketing channels for all ages and are you even surprised? In an era that’s pushing everybody to go digital, print has become some sort of luxury. Brands that still put effort into creating a physical outlet for their audiences are making a big step towards personalisation.

However, in order to impress young audiences, improve traditional print with a connectivity element. You can include a QR code that leads to a landing page or to your social media platform. Gen Z loves to interact with advertising content. Allow them to play with physical content- insert a postcard they can keep or a puzzle. Moreover, focus on visual elements and quality graphics because those are other things that our youngest value.

Great Online User Experience

Maybe chatbots and cutting-edge website design are not affordable for you, but keep your visual style updated, with clean graphics, modern fonts, and high-quality pictures. The average attention span has shrunk to 8 seconds for teenagers today, so website sections must be short and relevant. Furthermore, detailed contact info and links to social media platforms are a must.

Even if the first blog dates back to the beginning of the new millennium, starting a blog is still a valid method to improve your ranking and make your brand visible in the digital world. But know that Google always focuses on user experience. All its algorithm updates have been designed to improve user experience, and the introduction of the Penguin, Panda, and RankBrain Algorithm updates in the past couple of years were designed to make it easier for users to find what they really need.

Now more than ever you can make the most of your posts with relevant, consumer-oriented content. However, pay special attention to linking: link only to websites which are concerned with the same niche, build backlinks to reputable websites, prioritise linking to authoritative sites and find influencers in order to develop linking opportunities to other websites and social media channels.

The Knowledge Graph

Did you notice that sidebar panel on the right of your Google search listings, containing brief information about the subject you searched? That’s the Knowledge Graph, Google’s attempt to make all big sources of information accessible from a single platform, encompassing CIA World Factbook, Wikidata, and Wikipedia. These sources also connect to offer searchers correct and brief information about different online entities.

If you want visibility with every Google search targeted at you, learn to influence the Knowledge Graph. Company representatives are allowed to suggest modifications, but these demands need to be validated. Google will scan web data of a company to check if the information matches. Keep your brand accounts updated: Wikipedia Page, Wikidata platform, Google Plus account. Moreover, mentioning social media accounts in your descriptions will result in their display on the dedicated sidebar.

Video is the Present, Video is the Future

Since YouTube’s launch in 2005, video content has become more and more important. You are probably familiar with the success of social media story tools that allow the creation of ephemeral video content and the rising popularity of vines and vlogs.

According to the Animoto’s Social Video Forecast, 92% of interviewed marketers make videos with assets they already have. If you are among them, below are some suggestions to get better at video content making

Creating Social Media Video Content

Here you can see how different generations favor different social media platforms. Creating content for every platform is a waste of time for small businesses, so focus on the preferences of your target. Don’t approach your audience just with live videos or stories about your products and services, but also with content about the people behind the business, the working premises or the production process

Optimize YouTube Content

YouTube can work like a video directory – videos posted on this platform don’t drown in loads of mixed content. But you can also optimize it using these brief suggestions: include keywords in the filename, in the title of videos and playlists, in descriptions and tags. This free analytics list will help you choose the right tool to search for keywords.

VR Is Not Unreachable

Street View, VR View, and Cardboard Camera are easy peasy instruments that can be used to film 360-degree videos. Even if high-quality VR marketing is out of your reach, you can share simple content made with simple tools on WordPress platforms or embed it on your webpage. VR plugin allows VR content to be played without the need of a headset.
All in all, old and new techniques can blend in a unique marketing approach to create a compelling experience that will conquer the hearts of your audience.

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Further reading:

More about all forms of marketing here

Guest Post:

content marketing philip piletic Guest article by Philip Piletic: Philip’s primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business and marketing. Freelancer and writer, in love with startups, traveling and helping others get their ideas off the ground. Unwinds with a glass of scotch and some indie rock on vinyl. You can read more of Phllip’s work on his Linkedin profile here: https://au.linkedin.com/in/philippiletic

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The Ten Priorities; Priority #10: Managing your Market

Ten Priorities in business, Marketing, publicity, PR

Ten Priorities in business, Marketing, publicity, PR

The Rule of Everything

This is the tenth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The tenth Priority is about Managing the marketing.  The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

The second rule of Seth Godin is to make sure lots of people know about your great product or service.

It may seem obvious. No matter how great your products, your people, your systems, your visions and your plans are, if nobody knows how great they, there will be no business.

Many business owners will go out of their way to build a great product, but forget the second Rule. (BTW, the inverse is also true, more about the two different types of entrepreneurs here)

But both rules are equally important.

A business owner who wants to build a great business must learn that in business:

Marketing is everything, and everything is marketing.

A great business owner asks himself about the marketing dimension of every aspect of the business. Marketing is as much about the way the business goes about collecting its debts, or about the way people answer the telephones, or about its product warranty, as it is about the Facebook advertising campaign it’s running.

In fact, it can be said, that any activity in the business that does not have a marketing dimension to it, is a waste and should be stopped immediately. (more about the basics of marketing here)

When you learn to ask yourself about the marketing aspect to every decision you make, every system you develop and every action you take, every day, your business will flourish… I promise you.

Now that you’ve finished Ten Priorities, find out more about yourself and take “The Entrepreneur Type Survey”

Click here to go to the Entrepreneur Type Scale Survey

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