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The hometown business expectation

By Jim Youngquist          Send a link to a friend

[NOV. 5, 2005]  Buy locally?

One of the major complaints Lincoln business people have is that Lincoln people don't buy from Lincoln businesses even though they are from the same hometown.

In fact, the grousing seems to have grown, and now businesses in town are no longer merely grousing in general, they are grousing in particular. They are citing other businesses in town who say that citizens should do business locally but fail to do so themselves. This grousing about the apparent hypocrites has escalated into retaliation. Since business A knows that business B doesn't buy goods or services from Lincoln businesses (and especially from business A), business A will no longer be doing business with business B!

Thus, an entirely unhealthy cycle has been bred, born, raised and has now attained maturity, all because of an outdated and outmoded expectation.

Many local businesses center their entire marketing strategy around calling prospects to their businesses on the basis of being a Lincoln business -- that is, they generally don't advertise or promote themselves outside the yellow pages because they believe that being a hometown business should be everything that you need to attract local clients.

The fallout from all of this is that Lincoln businesses will fail if they put any stock in being successful because Lincoln citizens and businesses should do business with them because they are local.

The reality of this whole issue is that prospects no longer choose to do business based on locality, but rather have a complicated list of criteria for selecting vendors. There are certainly so many ways to find products and services today. Technology has increased the size and scope of the marketplace, and purchasing values have changed. The current highest priority now seems to be on receiving the highest value for your money spent.

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This is not just a reality here in Lincoln, but rather it is a reality across the globe. Ask business people you know in other cities.

Imagining that your business or a business that you might start in the future will be successful because of any kind of hometown pride will doom your business to mediocrity or failure. There is no longer a hometown advantage. Perhaps there never was.

To Lincoln businesses -- change your expectations. Just because you are here doesn't mean people will do business with you. Be proactive and do what every other business on the planet must do to get and retain business -- earn it.

Stock the goods that prospects are looking for. Market your business across the media in different ways to attract new clients. Make sure your employees are trained, eager, enthusiastic, polite and ready to serve your customers. Improve the interior and exterior of your place of business. Investigate new ways of selling your products in other locales with lower investment (non-bricks and mortar). Do everything necessary to make your business successful.

And change your expectation. There is no such thing as a hometown advantage.

[Jim Youngquist]

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