Right in the heart of an up-and-coming North Carolina town sits a bakery that’s doing literally everything from scratch. Using organic products, scientist-turned owner of Loaf, Ron Graff, serves up some seriously delicious treats to his eager and loyal customers (when they’re not selling goodies at the farmers’ market).
Sounds like the perfect scenario, right? Well, according to manager Mary Turner, there are still some obstacles they have had to overcome.
"We have the challenge of being in the center of a rapidly growing and changing city. Construction is happening all around and that brings street closures and even the occasional evacuation,” she explained.
As you’ll learn, the staff at Loaf has discovered ways to be where their customers are. What this means is that they use every opportunity they’re presented with to make a lasting impression with their customers and beyond.
This can work for your small business as well. Here’s how.
What’s the one aspect of running your business that’s more important than the rest? Communication has got to at least be one of the top two. In order to reach your customers where they are, you’ve got to communicate with them. (Duh.)
In Loaf’s case, the staff found the most efficient way to reach their fans. “We have been fortunate to be able get in touch with our current customers and to reach new customers through social media. Using Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, we can give up-to-date information about products fresh out of the oven as well as how to reach us if traffic and parking are going to be more tricky than usual," explained Turner.
While social media works great for this bakery, your customers might not necessarily be present there. Do a bit of research, whether that be a survey or question in person, and find out how your customers would like to interact with you. No need to waste your time in areas where your customers (and potential buyers) won’t receive the message.
Before Loaf’s inception, owner Graff had such a yearning for good bread that he reached out to the local pizza shop. After constructing a new brick oven, Graff would use the space of the pizza shop to bake after it closed at 2 a.m., baking his bread throughout the night. By using his resources, he was able to foster a relationship with another small business, while developing his own.
Where do your retail store customers eat lunch? Are you located near a restaurant? Team up with other businesses near you to take advantage of your community connection. An idea: offer free parking for those café customers if they stop by your store first. Collaboration is the key to making your business (and theirs in return) stronger. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
We see larger businesses doing this all the time. Meal delivery service Hello Fresh recently teamed up with beauty product subscription Birchbox for a holiday contest. You, too can use this idea to think outside the box and reach a larger client base.
Your ideal customer could be right under your nose and neither of you have any idea. Make yourself convenient and available so you can capture these budding prospects.
One thing to consider is where these customers are looking for products like yours. Are they reviewing Yelp pages? Are they posting about their needs on Facebook? Identify these places by doing a bit of research and make sure you’re representing your business as strongly as possible.
In the digital age, it’s all about making an impression. Make sure that impression sticks, or your ideal customer is a simple click away from finding your competitor.
To learn more about Loaf, click here to visit their Facebook page.
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