As the holiday shopping season approaches, are you getting discouraged by visions of shoppers heading to Walmart on Black Friday and ignoring your store? Well, cheer up. According to a study by Spong, reported in  MediaPost, 30 percent of shoppers say if all things were equal, they would choose local over national brands “always” or “most of the time.”
By contrast, only 12 percent of marketers in the study thought whether a brand was local or not mattered to consumers. In other words, you’ve got more of a local advantage than you think — good news as we head into the critical holiday retail shopping season.
So how can you gain the local advantage and make the most of consumers’ inherent desire to patronize local brands?
Gain the Local Advantage
Think Local When it Comes to SEO
Incorporate local keywords, such as your city, neighborhood, shopping center name or even street name when doing your SEO, as well as into any online advertising that you do.
This mobile marketing method uses GPS information about where consumers are at any given moment to send marketing messages to them in certain geographic areas. Geo-targeting is an option for Bing Ads or Google AdWords, as well as Facebook ads. It lets you do things like send offers to people who are near your store — or near your competition’s store so you can lure them away.
Get Involved in Community Business Organizations
If you think your local Chamber of Commerce and similar business organizations are corny, think again. By attending these groups and really getting involved, you can make valuable connections and discover new ideas, resources and partnerships for marketing your business.
Give Back to Your Community
The holidays are a natural time for doing good, and consumers especially love it when businesses participate in their community and local organizations that customers care about. (Check out my recent article for more holiday charity marketing tips .)
Selling By Walking Around
Don’t hide away in the back of your retail store working on inventory or doing the books. Save that for after hours and spend the valuable time when your store’s open out on the sales floor, mingling with customers. People love to buy from real people who live in their communities, rather than from faceless corporations. When they get to know you as a person, they’ll be more inclined to come back again and again. (Bonus: By really being present in your store, you’ll be better able to guide your salespeople and ensure they’re performing the way you want.)
Partner with Other Independent Business Owners
Is your business located in a busy downtown shopping area? A suburban mall? A hip, trendy neighborhood? Wherever you are, there are other retailers and small, independent businesses nearby that could all benefit from working together. Does your community have a Buy Local program? Ask around, and if there isn’t a program in your area, consider starting one. The American Independent Business Alliance  has lots of resources to help.
Take Advantage of Small Business Saturday
Held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday  is sponsored and supported by a wide variety of organizations, including American Express and the SBA. The event encourages shoppers to purchase from local, independent businesses instead of national chains when doing their holiday shopping on this day and throughout the holiday season. You can learn more and access tons of marketing materials and resources at the Small Business Saturday website.
By taking these simple steps to gain the local advantage, you’ll help give your small retail store the full benefits of the local advantage. How do you “think local”?
Buy Local  Photo via Shutterstock