Calgary, like most cities, has its share of notable small businesses. Farmer's Markets are a treasure trove of independent stalls. I also found a great little Greek grocery with authentic feta and olives and an Italian store with a European atmosphere. In addition, bakeries, shops for tea, coffee, and clothes boutiques offer choices and services that we don't get online or in bigger stores. But, there is also something else that small business provides – connection.
According to Ray Oldenburg's book The Great Good Place, independent shops and businesses such as "Cafés, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons and Other Hangouts are at the Heart of a Community." He describes how people must live in a 'balance of three realms: home life, the workplace, and the inclusively sociable places.'
Small businesses are finally being acknowledged for contributing to the economy, adding to community vibrancy and their role in a healthy lifestyle. Whether a small clothes store, health food shop or coffee shop, you are a 'sociable place.'
Businesses have stepped up their game when it comes to marketing. For example, storefront social media pages have engaging videos. In addition, real-time photographs, instead of stock ones and a regular schedule of posts, are becoming the norm whether the business is brick and mortar or a solo entrepreneur. Social media algorithms reward this creativity, and the struggle to be visible to new and existing customers gets easier.
While customers appreciate and enjoy the updates and information you share, the full circle of connecting and communicating, which makes you one of the all-important 'sociable' businesses, is lacking—the fundamental details about hours, address, contact information and website (if you have one). Scheduled reminders of these details are also crucial to what a customer needs from you. Yes, you know when you open, but someone who is going to find themselves in your part of town wants to be reminded.
Create a template of hours, address, contact information and website. The design can be seasonal, feature your logo and brand colours or use a photograph with an overlay. Then pop them into your social media scheduler. Periodically introducing yourself as the owner is also a friendly touch. Do the same with staff but only with their permission.
Other areas that should be kept current are your Google Business profile and website/blog.
Customers want to feel confident about your business before entering the doorway. From there, the verbal interaction and inviting environment will keep them returning.
This month I don't have a recipe to share, but I have a memoir to recommend with some tasty recipes sprinkled through it – Stanley Tucci's Taste: My Life Through Food. This is not an actors' memoir but is about a foodie and traveller who happens to be an actor. Overall a delightful book; easy to pick up and down as your schedule requires.
Jill Crossland is a Business & Marketing Consultant with over twenty years of business experience. She is the owner of Jill Crossland Consulting & editor of Entrepreneurial-Life Magazine. From business strategizing to marketing plans and social media, Jill knows how to put the pieces in place for her clients.
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