[This piece was originally written for July 4th but it's sentiments hold true year-round]
Independence Day reminds us all of the incredible power generated when a bunch of locals band together to repel a seemingly overwhelming opposing force for sake of town and country. Not unlike the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord, today’s local business owners are standing their ground to protect their way of life and the livelihood of their communities from big box and online mega-retailers.
The winning tactics waged by the Minutemen to repel the British and drive them back included a call for locals to band together, use of local knowledge to out flank the opposition, sharing of resources so that all could prosper, and taking back their towns. The farmers-turned-Minutemen held strong to the belief proclaimed by their commander John Parker:
“Stand your ground; don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”
Local businesses need to band together
Whether connecting through organizations like Main Streets, Local Firsts or merchants associations, or through free online social media applications like Alignable, local businesses must find ways to connect together and form bonds with other local businesses nearby.
Use local knowledge to outflank competition
Connected local businesses are able to share their local knowledge to help each other succeed. Alone, one business attacking the likes of Amazon would stand little chance of success. However, when that business connects and works with other local businesses nearby, it unlocks access to a wealth of local knowledge that can be used to outflank even the largest of adversaries.
Share resources so all can prosper
Successful local businesses have resources at their disposal they leverage to drive repeat business from their customers. Whether it's the experience provided while interacting with customers or the tools used (email, Facebook) to bring them back, local businesses possess the ability to influence the behavior of their most loyal customers. As local businesses work together and share each others’ events and promotions they have the collective ability to reach the majority of the population nearby. I have seen as few as 10 merchants reach over 150,000 consumers in conjunction with a neighborhood-wide event. That’s local power in action.
And take back towns for the betterment of the country and community
As local businesses connect and collaborate, they gain access to each other’s local knowledge and power. And as communities of locals come together they shift power away from the powerhouse online and big box stores and to the local business community. They also break free from the plethora of service providers offering to rent businesses access to the consumers in their community (Yelp, Groupon, Valpak) by taking ownership of their communities online and in person.
Make everyday Independence Day by supporting local business!
Eric Groves is the co-founder and CEO of Alignable (www.alignable.com), the free social network for local businesses and organizations to connect and collaborate with others nearby. Eric has been a local marketing expert and enthusiast since 2001, authored The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing, and believes that local businesses are always stronger together.