By Tara Banda, ReachLocal

Movies can teach us many lessons about ourselves, about others, and about the world we live in. But have you ever thought about what they can teach you about running a better business?

Grab your bucket of popcorn … we’re going to the movies.

Forrest Gump: Do What You Do Best

Much like Bubba knew his shrimp, you know your industry. Knowing you have the expertise to offer a specific product or service is why you started your business to begin with. And that’s what you should focus on. Many businesses try to branch out in crazy directions, at the expense of what they do great. Instead, focus on what you do best and strive to stay the best at it.

The Princess Bride: Don’t Let Grudges Ruin Your Business

Before typing out that spiteful “it’s your fault, not mine” response to a negative Yelp review, take a time-out. No good ever came of a business owner going on a defensive rant against a consumer on a review site, social media site, or even in person. Instead, try to understand their frustrations, and work with them to solve the problem.

Ghost Busters: Always Be Available

As an SMB owner you know that “normal” business hours don’t really exist. And while that doesn’t mean that you always need to answer your phone or email after hours, it’s a good practice to contact people as soon as you can. Simple things like turning on notifications for your social media pages and using a live chat technology on your website can help you be there for consumers when they need you.

Rear Window: Identify and Target the Right Audience

Identifying your key audience today is more important than ever before, partially because targeting your key audience has become easier than ever before (if you haven’t used Facebook ads yet, you’re missing out).

Anchorman: Know What Marketing Works and What Doesn’t

The rise of technology has enabled a rise in data intelligence. If you could learn how people got to your website and where they are in their buying journey, wouldn’t you want to know? Smart websites that track a consumer’s path can provide a way for you to see what marketing works, and therefore give you the power to invest more resources into what gets you the best results.

Stupid Crazy Love: Make a Great First Impression

First impressions matter and, the truth is, even small businesses can have great branding. A modern, professionally designed website, with easy-to-find product and company details is the first step. Also, consistent branding (that includes colors, logos, and business information) across local listings and social media sites can also show potential customers that you know your stuff.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Don’t Be Afraid To Show Your Personality

At the end of the day, consumers are people. And there’s no reason that your business shouldn’t show them your brand’s personality. Community involvement, funny or clever posts, or inspirational content related to your business can show people why your business is more than just products and services.

Tara Banda is a content marketing manager for ReachLocal. On the ReachLocal blog, she writes about how businesses can reach consumers through local online marketing. You can connect with her on Twitter @Tbanda or reach her at [email protected]