For years, local store marketing has been the most effective way for store managers and owners to integrate their business into the community. The high-touch approach of visiting local schools, neighborhood associations and charitable organizations and aligning one’s business in the spirit of reciprocal benefit has made many a businesses long-standing members of the community. With the growth of national and international chains, local store marketing was the vehicle to leverage national advertising, public relations, community relations and sponsorships. In fact, it was imperative that the chains worked hard at local store marketing as a means of minimizing their corporate roots, which in many smaller markets did not play so well. Brands like Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Home Depot learned that early in their lifecycles.
The world has changed dramatically since the rapid adoption of social media. The way companies market has changed. The mediums that grab consumer attention have changed. The transparency of it all has changed. Yet for so many multi-store businesses, they see social media as a brand strategy vs a local store strategy. Franchisors are even more fearful of empowering their franchises to have a presence outside of the mothership Facebook page or Twitter account. They would prefer to spend thousands and thousands per store with in-store pop, tent cards and promotions that are managed only at the corporate level. Of course, they want to continue to encourage you to knock on doors, hand out “be my guest” cards at local events and volunteer your services at the local school. You know, that traditional local store marketing effort. And by all means, keep emptying that fish bowl of business cards each week and dropping them into a lifeless database that you source on occasion.
What’s the answer? I for one would never discourage a local business owner or store manager from getting out into the community, building relationships, supporting relevant causes and partnering with schools. It takes time and commitment away from the store. The best run businesses figure out a way to balance both. However, I believe that local stores need a social media strategy because it’s a way to engage with your constituents in an ongoing dialogue … to make them feel special, test new products, learn about issues, discover opportunities. And it can all be done in a much more effective way that physically driving around town or spending thousands of dollars on excessive marketing materials.
For many, managing their Facebook presence seems intimidating or daunting and while the best of intentions begins with a setup a few posts, ultimately, it breaks down into a presence almost as lifeless as that database. The trick is to have someone qualified managing it for you, much like business has a technology or product vendor, you need a social media vendor that operates like a subscription service so that you have some financial predictability.
Find that solution quickly because local store marketing as we know it … is dying a slow death.
By, Dean Trevelino | @DTrevelino