Supporting the local community

How can your outlet support your local community?

We understand that as an independent operator, the relationships you build with your local community can make all the difference to your business. Good relationships lead to an emotional connection to your outlet, where customers feel they have an interest in your success, building long term loyalty.

Here’s our view on how you can connect with the locals and increase sales at the same time.

Ask the audience

Understanding your audience and how they like to be sold to is half the battle. Of course, you’ll be the expert in your customer base, with a good understanding of what your customers want, but how exactly do you put that information to good use? To really dig down into what your customers are looking for, you’ll need to understand the channels they use to find information and inform their purchases and then ensure that your offering is visible across them all.

Understanding how your customers think is no easy task, however creating customer profiles can make the entire process a lot smoother. Profiles can be used to quickly outline who your customers are, what they are looking for and how they like to be reached. Are they students wanting great value for money, working parents focused on convenience or busy commuters looking for a quick drink on the go?

This will give you a good indication of the best way to reach them and which key factors resonate with them most. It’s also great for informing your marketing approach; allowing you to drill down into the publications they read, the websites they visit and the businesses they buy from.

With this in mind, you’ll be able to create targeted messaging and share tailored information across a variety of marketing channels (local newspapers/radio, flyers, social media etc.) for each customer profile. This will also allow you to focus on the angle which most resonates with your chosen audience and means you can personalise marketing activity for a much better result.

Create a destination for community events

Understanding you customer’s needs is all well and good, but what really makes a local establishment unique is their authenticity and place within the community. This provides licensees with the perfect opportunity to champion the local area and provide a hub for community activities and events that are important to locals; if you support your community, your community will support you.

Whether it be charity coffee mornings, artisanal gin tastings or weekly get-togethers for new mums, there are plenty of ways to expand your offering to a whole new audience, all while creating a better community experience for your existing customers.

As well as activities, supporting local community groups acts as a great long-term investment for licensees too. With your support, these groups can grow their membership and develop to include more people from the wider community. This unlocks a brand-new audience who can be converted into regular customers and eventually become ambassadors themselves!

This is no different for local business in your area, so why not speak to them about how they see success and what works for them? Share your expertise and together you can support one another and build vital relationships.

Local businesses can be thought of as a captive audience, providing a great opportunity for sales, especially in the quieter mid-week time slots. Consider reaching out personally to these local stakeholders and offering them a perk which shows that they are an important part of the community and one which you’d like to build a relationship with. This could be in the form of a company discount card, a reduced rate on team meetings held at your outlet or even a free birthday drink for employees.

As well as bringing in new customers, you’ll often be able to leverage a good community relationship to create ties with local producers too. This not only helps you to achieve favourable prices on produce, but also makes for a great sustainability story, showcasing how you’re supporting local businesses, cutting your CO2 footprint and championing the local area.

If your outlet uses local produce, be sure to shout about it and provide some personal context. Whether that means referencing the farm which supplies your sausages by name, or highlighting how profits from a certain product go to support a local charity, by adding that personal touch you’ll show visitors that you are a local champion supporting the area you love!

This is something we’ve always believed to be a key tool for licensees and have seen huge value in building strong community ties both from the perspective of the business operator and their customers. To highlight our own commitment to community projects and shine a light on those who are making a real difference in their community, we created the Britvic Lifting Spirits Awards to recognise those local heroes who are going above and beyond to better their local area.

Be social

Once you have your community engagement strategy in place, it’s time to start shouting about it. Social media can provide one of the most powerful tools to do this and is freely available to any business owner with access to the internet. While advertising can provide great results, it can often be quite costly, so getting your customers to do your advertising for you provides a great alternative for budget conscious owners or those looking for a more authentic approach.

If you think of your outlet as a place where communities gather, then you can think of social media as the same thing, just for online communities.

Social media allows you to create an online presence for sharing news, menus, offers, images and much more. It also allows you to identify and target those who may become potential customers and reach out to them in a personable and tailored way.

A social media presence not only allows you to reach out to potential customers, it also allows them to reach out to you. Often the first touchpoint for the modern consumer, an online presence is absolutely essential and gives potential customers an immediate taste of who you are and what you can offer. Make sure you can be easily found on social media when customers want to ‘tag’ where they are and who they’re with and be sure to include all the key information guests need to find, contact and visit your outlet.

Think of your online presence like you would think of your shop front. It’s the first interaction potential customers will have with your business, so you want it to look slick, be impactful and show off your business in a good light right away.

Play to your strengths and be authentic

Last but by no means least is the need to play to your strengths. For independent operators your biggest asset is your personal approach and the little quirks that separate you from everyone else. It’s important to make sure that marketing activity remains true to this if you want to capitalise on your biggest asset…you!

Make use of the fact that you can be agile, personal and highly localised to stand out from the crowd. Build a reputation for looking after your customers, new and old, so that every customer knows they matter to you. You can do this by getting involved in topical conversations effecting your community, taking a stand on issues your local area is facing and responding personally to customer requests wherever possible. This level of personal service shows your commitment to the community and cements your business in the hearts and mind of locals.

You’ll understand better than anyone the power of a personal approach, so wherever possible, tailor your marketing to match specific guest needs and showcase the fact that no one knows your customers like you do!

When planning any form of marketing activity, it’s best to limit your efforts on one or two key tactics and focus on doing them well. Don’t forget to check in with your customers for regular feedback and be sure to implement requests which crop up frequently so visitors know you’re listening.

Keep these tips in mind when implementing your marketing plan and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a firm favourite with the locals; something which any savvy business owner will know is worth its weight in gold!

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