Guest post by Becky McCray
What is local, anyway?
When you think of a local business, you probably picture the traditional brick and mortar retail business. Customers are looking for these local businesses online right now. For local businesses like these, the focus online is on the people, businesses, and features that are right around them.
What if You’re Not “Local”?
If your business sells online or targets customers from all over, it can be tougher to figure out what “local” means to your business. But local can mean more than just bricks and mortar local. It can be a temporary state, local across distance, or even local online.
Local can be “temporary local.”
Tourism businesses have temporary locals. People visit this community because they love something about it. They are temporary locals with a stake in the community, even if only for a short time. Businesses that go online to show off the destination community, strengthen their ties with potential visitors.
Local can be “someone else’s local.”
By showing connections to a local community, any business can establish that they’re a small business worth supporting, no matter where the customers are. Marketer Jane Quigley told me that when she shops online, she looks for local independent businesses to support, even if they are local to somewhere else. When I was looking for chocolate covered pecans, I chose to buy from Nuts.com because their website showcased their local ties in their New Jersey community. They weren’t local to me, but they were someone else’s local, and that earned my business. All the content businesses create to show their local connections increases their appeal to distant customers, too.
Local can be “a member of our community online.”
Take the WordPress community, for example. The developers, designers, and consultants that work with the WordPress framework are all part of a network and online community. There are also offline community events like WordCamps and developer events. A business involved in that community can show that they are local to the online community, by showing their participation at in-person events, connections to community leaders, and support of community causes.
Yes, bricks and mortar businesses are local. But every business has some tie to something local. What matters is sharing the ties to what matters to the business and to their customers.
Becky McCray says that small businesses and small towns have a future. She is a small town business owner, she and her husband Joe own a retail liquor store and a cattle ranch. She writes and speaks about small town business, and she and Chicago entrepreneur Barry Moltz are the authors of the award-winning book Small Town Rules.
She has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine and The High Plains Journal. Her website, Small Biz Survival, has been ranked in the top 20 small business blogs worldwide. She makes her home base in Hopeton, Oklahoma, a community of 30 people.