One of the most significant factors of a successful local business is attributed to the owner’s personal involvement in the business. Most local businesses are financed through one of two ways (or a combination of the two): 1. the founder digs into their personal savings to finance the venture or 2) the founder raises the funds through close friends and family under the premise that he or she will be there at all times overseeing the day to day operations of the business.
Why? This is the part where you say, DUH! And yes you are right. A business has a higher chance of succeeding if the owner is exercising their personal experience when training the staff and putting out fires that only an experienced local business operator knows how to deal with. But aside from operational and industry expertise, the owner’s facetime has something else to offer that is greatly valuable to the business and its customers. The fact that the customers can say they have met and personally know the owner.
How often have you heard a friend suggest you to go to check out a new bar or restaurant just because he or she knows the owner there? There is a peculiarly significant level of panache in a customer’s personal relationship with a local business owner. Perhaps it is because the customer can expect a personal level of preferred treatment, or maybe because they gain some social capital and bragging rights, or perhaps they simply would like a familiar face to talk to. It’s like the Cheers song—“Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name… lalala …. “
So how do you exploit this phenomenon in your promotional efforts? Integrate yourself! It doesn’t really matter how you do it, or where you do it. Just do it! When asking people for help, ask them to help YOU, not your business. They don’t benefit from your business as your business won’t return the favor, but YOU may personally return it at a later date.
When sending out promotional emails and Facebook/Twitter updates, include a picture of yourself–don’t be shy… unless of course it actually hurts when you look at yourself in the mirror, then maybe a picture of your cat might have to do! In any case, let them know the message is coming from the owner.
Create promotions that are centered around you personally. Host a private session on educating your customer about your product or service, whether its specialty cocktails or organic beans. Make it comical or make it educational, one way or another, give people a reason to talk about you and your business.
A friend of mine, Lindsay Plotkin, who owns Johnny Utahs, the restaurant and lounge with a mechanical bull in midtown, really knocked me off my feet when I first heard about one of her promotions. She wanted to juice up her Monday night business a bit and launched a series of events that occurred every Monday night. For the debut event, she sent out emails promising all friends, family and loyal customers, that she would be the main attraction for the night and be fully dressed up as …[drumroll] … A CLOWN ! From head to toe!
And as promised, that very Monday night, a clown she was for the entire night! Everyone showed up to support the night, even if it was just to see the otherwise beautiful and graceful girl, make a public fool of herself on a weary Monday night. The stunt was so powerful that three years later it still found its way to this very blog that you are now reading. The moral of the story is: don’t underestimate the power of YOU!
If you have a great promotional story you would like to share please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to post it!