This article was written by past Local Food Program Director, Steve Russell.
Working together with your neighbors builds up your local economy, and means more business for everyone! This positions your community as a great destination and a friendly place with fantastic local businesses. Here are 10 simple tips for local businesses to engage with their communities:
Tip #1: Network with your neighbors and get to know their businesses. Establish what challenges you share in common and work together to find solutions. You could even form a coalition of businesses to get involved in the community's wellbeing!
Tip #2: Effectively utilize social media and cross-promote with your neighbors. Be conscious about things like: which social media platforms you are using, what kind of "face" your social media conveys, and how regular your updates are. If you don't have quality photos to put up, consider splitting the cost of having a professional photographer visit you and your neighbors' businesses.
Tip #3: Refer to your neighborhood by name—and do it with pride! You can even pool resources with your neighbors for destination marketing. With collaborative destination marketing, you can brand your community as an exciting and fun destination that others will want to travel to! Think Roosevelt Row, Mill Avenue, Melrose (The Seventh Avenue Merchant's Association), and Grand Avenue Arts & Small Business District.
Tip #4: Plan events with your neighbors. Whether it's a block party, food truck festival, a sampling event for new products, or a holiday celebration, consumers love special events! Brining more partners on board gives patrons a better event, and it builds community.
Tip #5: Form reciprocal business to business discounts & partnerships. Think about the items you can procure with or from your neighbors. When you can buy locally on the regular, you keep your community strong. Maybe you even offer discounts on coffee or food for your neighbors' lunch breaks!
Tip #6: Build group discount packages with complementary businesses. For example, a pet groomer and a pet hotel could offer a %20 discount on packages for customers to board and groom their pooch while on vacation. Both businesses can sell the package, and it makes an easy upsell!
Tip #7: Take advantage of the extra traffic from nearby community events, like rodeos, festivals and sporting events, and prepare to stay open late if necessary. Make sure your marketing reaches the folks that are attending these events, so that they know you're around the corner!
Tip #9: Get to know local musicians and groups, and invite them to play at your business. Remember that musicians also have friends, so when you invite live music to play, you also invite their friends!
Tip #10: Sponsor a mural on your property. Not only does this decrease vandalism like "tagging" and property defacement, public art beautifies the community and it's a great opportunity to share our history and culture, and to build Arizona pride!