The Green Sheet Online Edition
November 14, 2011 • Issue 11:11:01
Give, inspire and flourish
To compete with big-box stores for holiday shoppers, small retailers must leverage their unique attributes, one of which is that they are embedded in their communities. Customers who frequent locally owned and operated establishments tend to develop relationships with, and loyalty to, their neighborhood merchants. Such relationships often span decades. And those involved appreciate that buying local keeps dollars circulating in the local economy.
Self interest and social responsibility motivate people to spend money at local retailers: they want to help their neighbors financially, which in turn makes the community a richer, more desirable place to live.
You can 'go local' too
As an ISO or merchant level salesperson, becoming involved on a local level can be good for your business. You can raise awareness of your brand by developing strategies that help local communities of merchants.
One idea is to partner with local retailers and nonprofit organizations to contribute a share of bankcard processing profits to a charity. Merchants participating in such a program are likely to attract more consumers to their businesses, especially during the holiday season, which represents the spirit of giving.
The choice of nonprofit organization depends on particular vertical markets. For a hair salon that serves a largely female clientele, partnering with a local breast cancer awareness group makes sense. But for a bookstore or toddlers' clothing store, a charity that supports children's literacy seems more appropriate.
You will be rewarded
By fostering this type of generosity, you not only help merchants connect with their communities but also draw your customers closer to you. You demonstrate a deeper commitment to them and to causes that transcend the everyday utility of dollars and sense.
Once your program is underway, don't be shy about publicity. Use marketing materials, email newsletters and social media to promote your charitable efforts. The more businesses you reach with your vision, the more people will be influenced and inspired, and some of them just may send business your way. Helping others has its own rewards, but it can be profitable as well.
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