I came across an interesting article on supporting your local ecosystems. I live in Princeton, New Jersey. I have been a believer of be local – buy local ! For me, supporting your local mom & pop stores is all about preserving your local economy. Sure, large box stores add some value, but in today’s world, Amazon has become the large box store next door and can practically deliver you the same day.
Yes, let’s do Local Mapping the Local Essentials !
Here is the article posted by Miriam Ellis:
How should a business operate now? Where is there work to be done? Economists are making stark predictions about the future of small businesses in the US, but at the same time, I live in a town without a courier service established enough to meet the mushrooming demand for home delivery.
Frankly, it’s devastating reading headlines forecasting the permanent closure of 7.5 million American SMBs, but while absorbing these, I also spent six weeks shaking the Internet for bathroom tissue before locating some 1,400 miles away.
Point being: Where there’s need, fulfilment can be a public good, and where there’s upheaval, any possibility is worth considering. Necessities are emerging in bold relief on the map of each town and city. Demand must be met by determined small entrepreneurs to keep society functional.
If you have a strong desire to actively support communities in new ways, by either retooling your existing business or even launching a new one, the doors of opportunity are open:
Tools and exercises can help you assess local demand, with the goal of building a stable business based on serving the public exactly what it needs most. What I see emerging is a marketplace that’s essentials first, luxuries second. With a consumer public struggling to get its basic needs met, you want to own the business that grows, sells, or markets the dried beans if you can determine they’ll continue to be a must-have in all times and seasons. Let’s think this through together today.
Local Map Local Essentials
One of the hard lessons so many of us have learned from the past few months is that our local communities are neither prepared for disasters nor sufficiently self-sufficient to meet all basic needs.
Create a local map based on local needs. Once you’ve created your own map, answer these five questions:
1) Based on what I currently know, where in my community are the worst, ongoing local resource deficits? For example, in my community, we make too much alcohol for the residents to drink and don’t grow enough food for them to eat.
2) From what the present emergency is teaching me, which local resources have proven both essential and hard to access during a disaster? For example, there is only minimal manufacture of necessities in my town and a tax base that hasn’t been geared towards safety from wildfire.
3) Where would my existing skills and passions fit most easily into this map today? My skills, for example, would enable me to teach almost any business in town how to market themselves.
4) What new skills and assets would I need if I want to adjust my current offerings or move to a completely different role in my community? Let’s say I wanted to be an organic farmer instead of a local SEO — how could I transition?
5) If large-scale government planning fails to ensure that all members of my community have what they need to support life, what are my options for cooperating with neighbors at a local level to ensure my city or county is more self-sustaining? For example, my city has a Buy Local association I might tap into for large-scale, organized planning.
From this exercise, I want you to be able to tell yourself and others a compelling story about what your place on the map lacks and what it requires to become more self-reliant, as well as begin to gauge where you might personally fit in contributing to solutions.
In 1960, 95% of the clothing Americans purchased was made in the US. In the 21st century, that figure has fallen to just 2%. A couple of generations ago, 60% of us lived in rural areas near farms, but today, only 20% of us do.
More Local Jobs
In these days of “buy online, pickup in store” (BOPIS) and same-day delivery, I recommend befriending your city’s library or historic society to gain access to business records depicting the state of local 20th century commerce. See how your community was sustained by the farmer, the tailor, the baker, the vegetable wagon, the milkman, the diaper truck, the cobbler who repaired non-throwaway shoes, the town-supported hospital and doctor who made house calls, and the independent grocer. What you find in the archives could shine a light on creating modern sustainability if trying times and local desire converge in a demand for change.
Once you’ve done as much research as you can into the demand, it’s time to consider how you would promote your offering.
Assess local demand
Now it’s time to research specific demand. How do you know what’s most needed at a local level?
Center your own experience and see if it’s trending. More than anything else, it’s your powers of local observation that will tell you most about business opportunities. Businesses exist to solve problems, and right now, the problem we’re confronting is local self-sufficiency during times of emergency as well as in better days.
- Have I identified an anomalous spike in demand or a permanent need?
- Is there explicit value for customers if this demand could be supplied locally instead of via distribution/online channels?
- Are there already local companies fulfilling this demand?
- If I got into this line of business, who would my local competitors be and how well are they marketing themselves?
- What do you know about supply and demand in your community, from lived experience?
- See if your need is mentioned in Google’s Rising Retail Categories
- Crosscheck demand via keyword research tools
- Ask, listen, repeat
- Look Back
Market like Ma Perkins
When unemployment peaked at 24.9% and thousands of banks closed in the 1930s, who was still operational? It was Ma Perkins, “mother of the air”, progenitor of content-based marketing and soap operas, and radio star who offered homespun advice to her fictional town while selling Oxydol to the listening public. Realizing that people would still need soap even in hard times, Proctor & Gamble swam against the austerity tide, doubling down on their marketing investments by launching the “Oxydol’s Own Ma Perkins” radio show, making the brand one of the most famous Great Depression- era success stories.
This historic example of tying an essential offering to dedicated communication feels just about right for our current time. Scanning headlines like “Some small businesses are flourishing in the COVID-19 pandemic”, I’m hearing crackling echoes of Ma Perkins in the storytelling ventures of Cleancult’s orange zest cleansers and Tushy’s bidets. There’s precedent behind SEOs telling clients not to pause their marketing right now if they can afford it. Being a visible, reliable resource in this moment isn’t just good for brands — it’s a relief and help for customers.
Tell a Story
For your local business idea, there will be a tandem marketing task ahead of you:
- Tell a story of and to your local customers and tie it into your offering.
- Tell such a persuasive story of the need for local resource security that you needn’t go it alone.
- Help the local business community reimagine itself as a city planning task force with the goal of increased self-sufficiency.
- Marketing needs to be baked into your business concept — not treated as an afterthought.
- To broadcast your storytelling to the public in modern times, local radio can still be a great tool
Need Our Help?
We will be delighted to help you map your local strategy. Reach out for us and let us add value to your local presence.