The next time you take a walk down your locak High Street it’s worth recognising the fact that you are witnessing something of a miracle.
In these difficult times for “brick and mortar” businesses the continued existence of city and town centres as vibrant shopping areas owes much to tbe tenacity, drive, enthusiasm and sheer doggedness of the business owners involved.
Town centres are just shopping and retail areas, they form a vital hub in the lives of our towns and a living link with the past, to an era when there wasn’t much choice, long before mass ownership of private vehicles and the term of “out of town” mean the countryside, not a large cinema and retail park!
But even the most committed of “real” businesses nowadays need to embrace the digital world and utilise and leverage the marketing benefits it can bring.
From the local grovery store who offers online delivery to the hairdresser who promotes her special offers via facebook, the good news is that business owners are fighting back and claiming their space in the online world.
One such is Mark Davies, of Chiropractors Rayleigh in Essex who has found that having a strong online presence has been vital to his business. “I know myself that when I’m looking for something the first thing I do is get my phone out and serach Google, ” says Mark. “There cama a point when I had a lightbulb moment and realised that I needed to be at the top of those searches.
Putting flyers through doors, or having ads in thge local paper were producing miniumal returns, and I was fed up with a “throw enough mud at the wall and some of it will stick” approach to marketing.
“Entering the online world was a bit like taking my car to the garage – your feel out of your area of expertise and are almost anticipating the sharp intake of breath and being told that it will cost more than you had thought. The truth is that there are good companies out there to help local businesses like mine, including government initiatives, it just takes a bit of sifting to separate the wheat from the chaff.”
After the post credit-crash dip in local retail there has been something of a “tentative” revival, and for local businesses to thrive they need to embrace all marketing avenues, particularly those that are low cost with possible high returns.
A business can build a website cheaply by using services provided by companies such as weebly or godaddy. A Facebook page can be constructed in less than an hour and can pay huge dividends, particularly if your business targets younger, mobile and internet savvy customers.
Google and Facebook both offer online help to enable you to start advertising with them, and a quick search online will reveal the source of vouchers which enable you receive a free advertising allownace on both of these platforms.
The High Street may be changing, and operators there may have many challenges, but by utilising mobile and internet marketing they can demonstrate that there is still life in the old, (and beloved), dog yet.
Useful Resources: BBC News – Running A Business