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  • The Genius of Local

    annet croppedThere’s a popular saying that raising a child, “Takes a village,” but that same phrase can also provide a smart template for shaping a business. That is not to say that it takes a village to run a salon or spa, though sometimes I’m sure it feels that way. Creating deep ties within a local community—or village—is the best way to set your spa up for success.

    Channel Your Roots

    As a small business owner or professional skin therapist, you might compete against bigger chain establishments or online “flash” sales from local competitors. These competitors might have muscle in the marketplace, but they cannot offer your personal touch or the knowledge and relationships you have cultivated over the years.

    Consider this: when the dust cleared after the recession, it was the neighborhood spa who knew every client’s name that remained standing. It wasn’t the multi-door medi-spa with the laser hair removal specials and fancy ad campaigns. Humans are social creatures by nature. Connecting with your community should be a key approach in building your business.

    People want local, personal flavor, especially if they need to commute a distance for work every day. Focus your marketing campaigns to a 3-5 mile radius to resonate with this “locavore” mentality.

    Wyle Cop in Shrewsbury, EnglandSupport Your Neighbors

    People want to feel connected, and consumers respond with loyalty to merchants and vendors who care about what is happening in the community.

    Smart businesses are attuned to this. Catch that wave and be part of it! Get to know, and be supportive to your business neighbors, even if you don’t share the same key target market. Owners, their employees and families are all potential clients for you.

    Support each other’s social media pages—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more. Not only will your following grow, but you will be building relationships and be more tuned in with the local conversation.

    Join your neighbors and welcome in wanderers by opening your doors late on the “first Friday” of each month. Hold joint events with the yoga studio up the road and feature fresh-pressed juices from the spot next door.

    Tie in to Local Services

    Network via merchants associations and the Chamber of Commerce, and tie your philanthropy into the local services versus branches of huge national companies. Show your support by involving your business in ways that benefit local schools, libraries, women’s shelters, public works and utilities, fire and police departments, animal shelters and more. These organizations are the heartbeat of any local village.

    I live in sprawling Los Angeles, the city that was built on the single-occupancy automobile and the freeway. Personally, I try really hard to always use local service providers like my veterinarian, dry cleaner, hairstylist and electrician. I try not to shop or eat outside of my community, especially on weekends.

    This way, I can ride my bicycle, be more eco-friendly, and also do my part to support small business—after all, selfishly, I don’t want them to go away!

    Share Your Appreciation

    Don’t shy away from telling your clients how much you appreciate them and how much you need their support. Emphasize that you need them to buy their products from you directly, versus going online to a faceless source. People will be happy to support you!

    Proof of this in Los Angeles, New York, and probably your town, is the anti-Walmart proliferation of farmer’s markets for regionally grown edibles, indie coffee shops, or open air stalls offering assorted local wares.

    To quote another popular phrase, “No man is an island!” Make a concentrated effort to become embedded in the fabric of your community, and the locals will thank you.

    This article was originally published in Skin Inc. Magazine