ANDRA was already a necessity before the pandemic, but it is undeniable that it has marked a before and after in terms of local business communication.
Digitizing local businesses has gone from being “a reality” to an “imperative need”, but digitization encompasses different fields and today I would like to focus on communication.
Because if local businesses know anything, it is to communicate with their customers. They are the kings of proximity. Those to whom our elders go, but also those of us who do not paint gray hair and seek answers and advice before the use or purchase of a type of product or service.
Those who fill our streets with life, but who are turning it off little by little, with the closure of their businesses. Closures that, on certain occasions, have been accelerated due to the lack of digitization of the same.
SAME CUSTOMERS, NEW DEMANDS
The data is clear: the Basque Country lost 2.08% of its retail trade in 2021, compared to the previous year. And it has 14% fewer local businesses than 5 years ago.
In the case of Navarra, the figures are no better and it is expected that, within a year, 11.01% of current retail businesses will close, according to a survey carried out by the Navarra Merchants Association.
The reasons? The lack of generational change and the boom in purchases onlineaccording to the Basque Trade Observatory, Enfokamer.
But are you looking for the customer who buys online the same products that you would buy in the local trade? And if so, what do digital businesses have that local businesses don’t?
Next, I analyze what are the points by which consumers who, until recently, made their purchases in local stores and have now reduced their consumption in them are attracted:
24-hour showcase: so the possibilities of generating new needs for customers are always present.
They can do a search for what they need: thanks to store search engines online And they can do it easily.
They are always informed of the news: either by email, social networks and even WhatsApp or Telegram.
They give them new ideas in an entertainment format: generating useful content on their blogs, video channels, podcasts or on their social networks. This strengthens the connection and trust with the business.
They know the opinions of other customers: and the answer to their doubts or needs regarding the product or service. This also increases sales.
Receive the order at home: without caring if they have to wait a day or two, or have to pay postage for it.
Can a local business adapt to those advantages enjoyed by digital businesses?
It can and should, but always adapting it to your type of business, to the consumption habits of your clientele and to your time.
It is not about entering like an elephant in a china shop. It is about, little by little, starting to use new tools that help you communicate more effectively with your customers and even the possibility of opening new avenues of income.
Three BASIC TOOLS TO DIGITALIZE YOUR BUSINESS
There is something that many local businesses are unaware of and that is excellent news for them: Google likes local businesses and gives them greater visibility or facilities than digital businesses.
How can this be? For the simple reason that the competition is less and because when we do an internet search to find a specific local business, the first results that appear are those that are closest to where we are.
This is magic? No, this is called Google My Business and it is the first basic tool that every business should have (unless Google fulfills its promise and this free platform disappears).
Opening a file in Google My Business is simple and free, allowing you to enter the following information: name of the business, hours, contact telephone number and email, photos of products, news, events that you can organize and that your clients can leave you reviews.
It’s great for letting you know about potential local customers. But your work with the digital communication of your business should not stop at this point: it is time to increase visibility through social networks.
But, first of all, ask yourself: Are my clients on social networks? And if they are, where are they?
Of all of them, which is the most convenient for my business for my type of product or service? Which one do I feel more comfortable with to handle it professionally?
It’s true: Facebook and Instagram are the most successful among local businesses, but before investing time in them, answer the questions I just asked you. Above all, if you have answered that your customers are not on social networks.
In that case, your next option could be WhatsApp. Did you know that with this tool you can inform – as long as they give you permission – your customers about news about your business? Yes, you can send them a message with the photos of the product and some information.
You can also do it without bothering them with messages, by placing the new information in the state by WhatsApp. They are discreet, but effective.
In addition, this tool allows you to send audios, videos, photos, text and even remember your appointments with clients or notify them of possible unforeseen events.
Is it necessary to have to be on social networks and also manage WhatsApp? Do I have to post daily?
No. It is not necessary (nor recommended) to be everywhere, nor do you need to publish daily, but you do need to commit to a constant periodicity, which allows your client to keep you in mind and buy from you when they need you.
YOUR CUSTOMER DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SELL THEM
The media have changed, but so have the rules, and the digital world has its own.
One of the golden rules is that the customer does not want you to be constantly selling to him, just as he does not like you to chase him in his store.
Thus, it is important to generate content related to your product or service. A content that gives the solution to the answers that your client is looking for with respect to that product or service.
The objective of this content is to awaken their purchase needs, feeling that it is they who have made the decision to acquire it, without the need for you to stick it in their eyes.
For example, if you have a haberdashery, tell them what they should know when choosing the right bra size. If you run a fish market, tell them how to prepare a sea bass and the best way to keep it fresh for longer.
In short, all those questions that are repeated daily in your physical store, answer them using digital tools.
And yes, on the internet there are also unwritten rules of coexistence and courtesy. One of them is that you won’t bother customers outside of working hours, but they won’t bother you either.
CHANGES DO NOT COME OVERNIGHT
Digital communication is not immediate, but it is effective and its effects are long-lasting in the medium-long term. That is why it is worth investing in it.
You can do it yourself, or you can delegate, but the important thing is that you go little by little and always keeping in mind your client and the goals you want to achieve for your local business.
One last reminder: the digital world is not the enemy, nor has it come to destroy traditional business. It has come to provide them with new tools and adapting is a basic need if we do not want businesses to continue lowering their blinds.
* Journalist and digital copywriter