9 Ways to Keep Connected to Your Community

For any business, or any individual for that matter, to thrive and feel connected, they need to be an active part of their community.

Chances are good that your store is already a destination in your community for health-minded individualsโ€“people who want to take care of themselves and associate with others who feel the same way. But, how well known is your store in general? Regardless of the number of years youโ€™ve been in business, and the ties youโ€™ve forged during that time, itโ€™s still important to consider the many ways to build connections with your community at large. You may already be putting some of the suggestions I have here into practice. However, if you feel that your outreach could use a refresh, now is the time to brainstorm ways to get the word out about your store and to deepen ties with the people and businesses in your town.

Here are nine ways to do just that:

1. Cast a wide net: In many towns, there are usually a multitude of events, other businesses with overlapping customers, and charities that would be more than happy to have your partnershipโ€“even for short-term mutual benefits. Linking up with them is an excellent way to express gratitude and care for your town and to spread the word about your store. Consider connecting with bicycle shops, yoga studios, fitness centers and animal shelters, sponsoring charity events, hosting food trucks or a mini farmerโ€™s market at your store, (or having a booth at one in your cityโ€™s downtown, if applicable), and otherwise making your business very visible in the community. If youโ€™ve already been taking part in these kinds of activities, continue to do soโ€”being associated with other like-minded businesses or fun and beneficial events helps build a positive identity for your store and will draw more people to you.

2. Host events often: Think about cultivating new customers and fans of your store: you may bring in people who are new to the very idea of supplements, healthy eating or exercising more often. Itโ€™s good to let curious seekers know they are welcome and that your expert team can help answer their questions and guide them. Think about a โ€œwhere to start when supplementingโ€ class or event and promote it widely. You never know when youโ€™ll make a new lifetime customer and friend as a result.

3. Educate frequently: Bringing in local health experts who align with your vision and, ideally, can speak to the products you feature at your store, is a great way to develop connections in your community. Additionally, if youโ€™ve been promoting your own team members at being in-house experts, it will help your store become better known as a trustworthy destination and deepen the connection between your business and the community at large.

4. Consider a cookout: Hosting an occasional cookout or picnic featuring local foods (and maybe even a local chef) can appeal to a great cross-section of regular customers, potentially draw in new ones, and provide a nearby restaurant with a boost in traffic, too. Otherwise, if youโ€™ve partnered with local farmers, you can grill some great samples to showcase their selectionโ€“and yoursโ€“and help some other wonderful businesses in your community at the same time.

5. Promote a relaxed vibe: Set out your sidewalk cafรฉ, if you have the space (and city ordinances permit it, of course.) If you can offer something healthy and refreshing to drink and a place to enjoy it, your customers will know that thereโ€™s a place for them to linger a bit longer. You may have moms shopping while dad and kids have a bit of patio time. Being a family-friendly destination helps draw people in more and having customers having a good time outside your store is a great way to keep a vibrant connection with people in your town.

6. Encourage browsing and lingering: If youโ€™ve been an active part of your community for some time, by now your store isnโ€™t just a shopping destination, itโ€™s a social destination. Along with promoting that relaxed vibe, if your store is extra busy due to an event youโ€™ve hosted, and it seems like people simply want to browse for a while, thatโ€™s good news. Encourage it and welcome it. The more popular your store is as a destination, the more sales youโ€™ll see. Plus, when customers linger, itโ€™s an invitation to get to know them better. You donโ€™t have to be heavy-handed about this: let them enjoy their chance to look through the store at a leisurely pace, but also let them know that you can help them and answer questions.

7. Appreciate your customersโ€™ furry friends: Hosting a pet health day is a great way to emphasize the range of products in your store, and the expertise you have with supplements, food and other supplies for your customersโ€™ animal companions. Partnering with a local veterinarian for a presentation and discussion of natural pet health or working with your nearby animal shelter for an adoption drive, will generate interest in your store and solidify connections with your community, too.

8. Support your community during good times and bad: Being part of a community means sharing the good times and the bad times. For instance, when a crisis hits, whether itโ€™s a flood, fire or storm, find a way to alleviate the suffering of those around you. It may be as simple as helping distribute water or food to a temporary shelter or assisting cleanup efforts after a tornado. And of course, civic support doesnโ€™t need to be limited to emergenciesโ€“consider adopting a stretch of highway, tidying up litter in city parks, sponsoring a community garden, or pursuing any volunteer efforts that reflect the care you have for the people around you.

9. Stay connected virtually, too: When it comes to freshening up your product offerings or presenting new products, make sure you announce that in your storeโ€™s newsletters and any social media outreach. Also, post any educational material, including links to videos and the like that the company may also provide. Hosting virtual events or livestreaming your in-store educational events, and posting your own videos on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and your own website adds an extra element of connection with your community, especially for customers who canโ€™t always make it there in person but would like to still feel included.

Being Connected Is Good for You and Your Community

Being part of your community and getting your storeโ€™s name out there often helps build trust and enthusiasm for your business, even in those who might not have otherwise considered shopping there. In a world of online options and discounters, forging and maintaining ties with those in your town helps show the difference between a locally focused business and one that simply wants to make money and not be bothered with anything else. But when you continue to develop and deepen the relationships between your store and the people around you, it yields a greater return for everyone.VR

A highly regarded leader in the natural products industry, Terry Lemerond is founder and president of EuroPharma, Inc. He also founded Enzymatic Therapy, Inc. and PhytoPharmica, Inc. and is currently co-owner of the Terry Naturally Health Food Stores in Green Bay & Suamico, WI, which recently won its eighth consecutive consumer choice award as โ€œBest of the Bay.โ€ With more than 50 years in the natural products industry, Lemerond has researched and developed more than 400 nutritional and botanical formulations that continue to be top-selling products in the market. Lemerond shares his wealth of experience and knowledge in health and nutrition through his educational programs, including a weekly radio show and newsletter, podcasts, webinars and personal speaking engagements. He is author of 13 books, including Seven Keys to Vibrant Health, Seven Keys to Unlimited Personal Achievement and 50+ Natural Health Secrets.

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