In an increasingly crowded marketplace, local businesses are constantly seeking out new ways to compete. To help provide some answers, local marketing specialist Yodle recently conducted an extensive survey on the topic of customer desires as they relate to small businesses. Called “Yodle Insights: What Consumers Want From Local Businesses,” the report offers valuable insights for small business owners looking to get a leading edge on their competitors.
In evaluating consumer behavior, Yodle surveyed 6,058 individuals in 20 mid-market cities throughout the U.S. Additionally, the company assessed perceptions of various local businesses across the nation. The study focused mainly on interactions with service businesses including medical providers, auto shops, contractors and professional service organizations.
Yodle’s goals were to determine how users select the businesses they frequent and which factors and offerings were seen as being the most important. By identifying the top concerns for consumers, Yodle hoped to help small businesses succeed in their respective markets.
Overall, the results of the Yodle survey were surprising. While it’s no shock that cost is a significant factor for buyers, the study revealed that a number of other elements were equally if not more important in consumer decision-making. Below are some of the most important considerations among small business customers.
One of the most significant findings was that local businesses would do better to compete on issues of quality rather than cost. While big box stores and chains tend to offer improved pricing, the survey reveals a widespread customer belief that local businesses offer superior products.
Even more exciting for small businesses, 72% of consumers report a willingness to pay a local business more in exchange for better goods and services. By focusing on quality over price, your local business may just be able to draw customers away from the competition.
Along with superior quality, small businesses have a reputation for providing more personalized services to their clients. According to the survey, an impressive 96% of consumers felt that small businesses did a better job when it came to customizing goods and services to meet clients’ needs. Additionally, respondents felt that small businesses offered a better customer experience overall.
By treating people like individuals instead of numbers and striving to meet their specific needs and wants, small businesses are making serious gains on larger providers. In fact, 82% of those surveyed were currently using local firms, with 48% saying they planned to choose small businesses more in the coming year.
Because consumers tend to prefer a more personal experience means small business owners can’t slack off when it comes to their websites. According to the survey results, 75% of consumers use the internet for shopping and business research. Hence, local businesses that don’t optimize their online presence may be missing out on valuable sales opportunities.
Along with a good website, customers now expect small businesses to offer the ability to book services online. 28% of respondents also indicated that online payment options were an important distinguishing factor. If you’ve been putting off making site improvements, now might be a good time to make that investment.
While a website is a good starting place, savvy small businesses also promote themselves on social media. Not only does a social media presence allow small businesses to inform customers of new offerings and last-minute sales, but it also enables them to engage with their consumers. This feedback can be crucial in determining just what it is that your customers are looking for. Additionally, companies can use social media and the web to reward loyal customers for their business by emailing discounts and special offers.
Focus on Reviews
With the prevalence of reputation sites like Yelp and HealthGrades, it’s no surprise that online reviews are a must-have for small businesses. According to the Yodle survey, 75% of consumers felt that the presence of reviews was important. Interestingly, though, just 7% reported that they had been asked by a small business owner to write a review. These findings indicate that small businesses would be wise to start requesting reviews from satisfied clients.
Local businesses often struggle to meet the low prices offered by regional chains and online retailers. The results of the Yodle survey, however, suggest that cost is just one of a number of factors affecting customer loyalty. By investing in a strong website and providing more personalized services, local businesses have a good chance of attracting customers away from their chain store competition.