Investing in your neighbors’ business is fruitful.

Jennifer Bushong

Small businesses fuel our economy.  Now more than ever, entrepreneurs are taking charge and living their dream to own a business. According to the 2021 U.S. Census Bureau, small business applications hit over 5.4 million, surpassing the 2020 record of 4.4 million. Washington state alone has over 647,639 small businesses that employ 1.4 million workers (U.S. Census). Local stores with fewer than 50 employees are the ones who sponsor the local festivals and directly contribute to communities. These businesses may not have a full-service marketing or communications department, so they rely on local patrons to add to their bottom line.

Investing in a small business is more about marketing than ever before.  Digital marketing and localized efforts make it easier to help turn profits for your local shop owner – the one who knows your name. Small businesses with less than 50 employees need more help to stay competitive in today’s worldwide marketplace. Buying from an independent or regional business supports the employees that work there too.  Today, you can support your neighbor with more than hard-earned dollars.

Here are a few ideas to add value to a local business or firm:

  1. Maximize digital channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, LinkedIn, Website, etc.)

Drop a nice comment on their Facebook post, help share their Instagram reel, or leave a kind review on their apps. These positive interactions and levels of engagement help position the business on the greater scale —edging into a big box or a larger corporations’ deep advertising pocket.

Professional firms and regional consultants can compete with their city counterparts, but are often overlooked by larger and mid-size businesses.  Fully research the agency’s background and resources before completely ruling out the local firm. Often, the neighborhood firm will have more time, energy and talent than the city firm —saving the owner a lot of time and money!

  1. Add to your public image

House your upcoming holiday party at a local restaurant or entertainment venue. Invite your clients and make it an extra special open house.

Purchase gift cards and give back to your employees or key customers.

Buy from a local farmer. Give fruit baskets, jams and jellies or items for the upcoming holiday season. This personalized touch will be fruitful for the economy.

  1. Refer the business

As a new consulting firm in the region (established 2020), JBe has built its business on referrals. The personal references are the backbone of our new client base. The value of another business owners or agencies sending new business our way, enables us to add immediate credibility, showcase the regional work and offer a strategic skill set for a variety of industries. The growth in a local firm will provide additional jobs, boost sponsorships for fairs, festivals and events, as well as allow local advertising dollars to be spent in the region which allows for more access to diverse news and advertising mediums.

Take a few minutes this week to impact a local business. Show you care. Not only will it be an excellent way to invest in your neighbor, but it feels good too!

Jennifer Bushong, MA is the owner of JBe Marketing Group, LLC., a full-service strategic marketing and public relations firm in Washington State.

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