By Bill Brunelle
Small businesses are used to competition. You compete for the support of customers, lawmakers and plenty of others, but there’s one source of support that requires no competition: your local Main Street organization. In communities across the country, Main Street organizations offer small businesses important direct and indirect benefits. They do this by giving back to the community, revitalizing downtown spaces and generating enthusiasm for all things local.
Here are four ways Main Street organizations support small businesses:
1. Drive Traffic Downtown
Main Street organizations focus their attention on, of course, Main Street. Whether your town centers around a Main Street, a First Street or a Park Avenue, it’s a Main Street organization’s mission to raise awareness and passion for the local downtown district. Programs like art walks or summer festivals bring consumers downtown, where small, local businesses often set up shop. In this way, Main Street organizations can directly impact the number of customers walking through your doors.
2. Provide Opportunities for Community Involvement
The events and programs created by Main Street organizations do more than just entertain residents, they create opportunities for small businesses to engage with their communities. When you set up a booth at the annual festival or enter a float in the seasonal parade, you’ll show your community that you want to build a relationship with residents. Take advantage of Main Street events to deepen your roots in the community and spread the word about your business in an engaging and fun way.
3. Leverage Collective Purchasing Power
Many Main Street organizations give members access to exclusive discounts and purchasing programs. These perks can take the form of discounted ad space in local media or streamlined financing programs with local banks and credit unions. Typically, Main Street organizations also offer members free promotional materials, such as fliers, brochures or stickers.
4. Promote Members Online
As a member of your local Main Street organization, you can strengthen your digital marketing strategy with additional blog and social media opportunities. Many Main Street groups highlight members on their blogs, list members in their online directories and share members’ content on their social media pages. When you take advantage of these digital promotion opportunities, you can boost your business’s online visibility and reach a local audience that wants to shop small.
So, look for a Main Street organization in your community and align your small business with it keeping in mind Main Street organizations often take the form of independent business districts, downtown development associations and Local First groups. If you already know and love yours, then celebrate it and all it does for your community. The America’s Main Streets Contest, going on now, will reward one deserving Main Street organization with $25,000 cash and a variety of other prizes. Nominate and vote for your Main Street organization online at www.mainstreetcontest.com. Nominations and quarterfinalist voting will continue through April 22.
Bill Brunelle is co-founder of Independent We Stand, a cause-marketing campaign sponsored by STIHL, which is dedicated to educating communities about the importance and strong economic benefits of supporting locally owned businesses. Independent We Stand inspires small business owners across the country to celebrate their locally owned status and help consumers understand the importance of supporting them. For more information, visit www.independentwestand.org. @IndWeStand.