The new year is nearly upon us; it’s about time to finalize those resolutions. If you’re still goal setting or looking for a worthwhile endeavor to support, make a commitment to shop local in 2018. Here’s how you can get involved in the small business movement:
Celebrate Small Business Saturday
Each year Small Business Saturday, a nationally recognized event held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, draws consumers to local small businesses. Started in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday brought 108 million shoppers and $12.9 billion to U.S. small businesses in 2017.
It’s become tradition for many shoppers to devote at least one day of holiday shopping to support local businesses over the big box brands that receive the lion’s share of Black Friday and Cyber Monday business.
Shop Small at Least Once a Month
If you’re not familiar with shopping local, changing all of your shopping habits at once may be intimidating. Make it a new year, new you habit. Perhaps in January, you’re looking to treat yourself and de-stress from the holidays. Find a local spa and enjoy a massage or manicure and pedicure.
In February, try ordering a dozen chocolates for Valentine’s Day from the neighborhood chocolatier. Within a few months, you will have gradually broken your old shopping habits and hopefully found some new businesses and service providers that you trust.
Review Small Businesses Online
As you discover new businesses and you’re pleased with their service and offerings, don’t forget to leave them glowing reviews and let your friends and family know about your new finds. Many small businesses rely on word-of-mouth and repeat customers to stay in business. You can up that ante by writing positive reviews about your favorite small business on online review websites.
For practically any small business owner, some of the best online review sites are:
- Yellow Pages
- Bing Places
- Better Business Bureau
For service-based business, these sites are important to know:
- Angie’s List
- Open Table
When a business receives a review, the comment is publicly posted on the business profile. Online reviews can help with Google search results and Google Maps when customers are looking for a business in their area.
According to BrightLocal’s 2017 Consumer Review Survey, 97 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 12 percent looking for a local business online every day. The survey also shows that 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much a personal recommendation. Online reviews have become the new word-of-mouth marketing.
If you’re a small business owner, offer discounts and rewards to encourage your customers to leave positive reviews. You can also use your social media presence to solicit feedback from your followers.
When you support a local business, you’re also putting money back into your own neighborhood and city. Resolve to do your part in 2018 to support the independent businesses that are the lifeline of your community.