When I was growing up my dad owned a neighborhood men’s clothing store. Started before the advent of the malls, neighborhood stores would attract people who lived in a few block radius, (in a city) or in the town (out in the suburbs). My dad would often refer his customers to the dry cleaner a few doors down (and vice versa). At least once a week, before the stores opened, my dad and the owners of that dry cleaner, the hamburger restaurant, the hardware store and a few other store owners would get together for coffee, sharing neighborhood observations and anecdotes.
Then the malls come, causing a lot of these neighborhood stores to vanish, depersonalizing the shopping experience both for consumers and for small business owners. Alignable.com is aiming to bring back the camaraderie and cooperation of those “good old days” when local merchants worked together to help each other’s businesses.
Alignable CEO Eric Groves, who spent years helping small business owners when he worked at Constant Contact, says studies show consumers today often shop within 5 miles of their homes (in big cities, it’s one mile). Many are tied to one local business, loyal to their hair salon, bakery or pizza joint. These customers aren’t motivated to shop at these places by coupons or promotions; their ties are more personal.
Helping those business owners amplify their reach is Alignable’s goal. The new company enables and empowers local businesses to market to reach one another’s customers, create package deals and connect to solve similar challenges. This being the 21st century, the best way to do this is through a web-based platform that makes it easy for local merchants to share their social media friends, fans and followers and email lists to cross-promote and attract shoppers.
Groves says Alignable is “about connecting local merchants with each other, and then helping them acquire new customers.” Alignable also lets local entrepreneurs create and share an events calendar and special offerings.
Their early numbers (Alignable tested the concept in the Boston area) shows that when five established local businesses connect, they typically collectively reach over 50 percent of local consumers in their area. In active communities, local businesses typically connect and collaborate with 10 other local businesses.
Alignable is free to join, but to foster the sense of cooperation, Alignable is generally open by invitation only (local business owners inviting one another to join). You can join without an invitation (be the pioneer, fostering the power of local in your area) by clicking here and using the code growbiz.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.