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Build Loyalty by Being Local [Day 27 – 28 Days to BFL]


This is Day 27 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. On Friday, the one and only Liz Strauss gave us 12 Ways to Connect With a Community of Fiercely Loyal Fans. If you haven’t starting put those into action, what’s your holdup?!  Today, Barry Moltz and Becky McCray, co- authors of the soon-to-be-released book Small Town Rules, show us how building fierce loyalty can be as simple as focusing on our local roots.

Build Loyalty by Being Local

By: Barry Moltz and Becky McCray@BarryMoltz and @BeckyMcCray

It is almost useless for a small business owner these days to compete by having the best product. There is always a larger, better funded, or more innovative company somewhere in the world that will beat you to it. Actually, the key to your success is to forget about having the best product. (with apologies to Steve Jobs) Instead compete for your customer’s loyalty. Most people are lazy consumers and would rather not switch to a new company. The customer may feel frustrated with their cable company, but the switching costs of inconvenience are too high to typically make a change.

Successful small businesses compete by rewarding their customers’ loyalty. This became famous when American Express put a date on their charge card which said “Member since 1981”. Wow… Not just a customer, but a valued member for all these years. One easy way to win the loyalty battle is to offer great customer service. In a world with no real boundaries for commerce, customer service becomes the only real sustainable advantage.

There is another way to gain customer loyalty by focusing on your business’ local roots. Studies show that consumers would much rather buy local, than from some anonymous company in another part of the world. Every small business has some local connections to work with. Manufacturers can “be local” by using local materials, buying from local suppliers, and incorporating local characteristics into products. Retailers can not only carry local products, but also reflect local tastes and tailor the shopping experience to local people.

Struggling to define local (urban and rural)? Small businesses get help from the “Eight Elements of Rural Culture” developed by the Kansas Sampler Foundation.  Any product or promotion can be developed with local characteristics built in from the beginning.

A competitor may beat you on price or on innovation, but no one can be “more local” to your customers than you can.

What can you do right now to add more “local” to your business?


Barry Moltz helps small business owners get unstuck. His latest book is called, Small Town Rules, coauthored with Becky McCray which how small businesses and big brands can prosper in a connected economy.


Becky McCrayBecky McCray is a business owner and speaker from Alva, Oklahoma, who focuses on small town business issues. Together.  Together with Barry Moltz, she co-wrote Small Town Rules ( about how the whole business world is like a small town and what we can learn from rural business successes. The book is due out from Que Publishing in early April.


P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyalty, please sign up here.

P.P.S. Just in case you missed my announcement about my only live coaching retreat in 2012, you can catch up on the details (like there are only going to be 10 people there) and grab your seat here:

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  • There is actually a huge push for local business loyalty in my hometown. If you look at the tag #blono you’ll see it all over the place. Including a twitter account @RelyLocalBlono setup specifically to support the local economy. Customer loyalty is huge. I wish more companies understood that it is far easier to retain a customer than to continually find new ones.

  • Although the success of my business relies heavily on my reach being anything BUT local, I totally agree with keeping the flavor of the services I offer more locally-grown. My personal ideals are all about making choices that have positive long-term effects, like buying sustainably produced goods and frequenting businesses that are family-run and non-globalized. …and yes, often that means buying “local.” I’m curious about what I can do to add more “local” to my business. I suspect it might have something to do with creating my own brand of “small town” appeal. Thanks for getting me thinking in this direction! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the small business owners’ roles in creating a connected location-based community.

  • Favorite line:  Instead, compete for your customer’s loyalty.

    Thanks for a great post!

  • Hi B & B,

    Local is the next big thing. We shipped it out, now we are bringing it back. Good way to grow community, save on grass, be sustainable, and work with folks we know and trust. My business tends to be local.  There are lots of folks to meet in the local area, more than you might think.

    Good reminder for folks! thanks g.

  • After practicing in the same office for over 28 years, it is like a safe haven for many who come week after week, year after year.  Can’t get more local than this.  I prefer, regardless of wide spread of the web in all its methods, to be face on…I believe in the human connection!!!

  • Hello Becky & Barry…thank you for your post. I’ve employed the Buy Local strategy for one of my clients looking for a competitive advantage in his highy-competitive market. Unlike a market position based upon largest selection or lowest price, this allowed him to position himself in a way that the Big Boxes could never duplicate. He was a real person competing against faceless corporate interests. We were able to leverage his local-ness and position him as the one supporting the local economy because he was the only one who was actually a part of the local economy.

    Global can also be local when it becomes personal. When I follow someone on Twitter and get an auto-responder spitting out an automated message telling me how glad they are that I am following, I think of Big Box. I never expect to truly connect with that person. No one to be loyal to. But when someone from the other side of the world drops me a personal message and makes real contact with me, it feels like I’m at the local corner market. It’s all about the connection.

    Thank you for your insights…wishing you great success on the new book! 

  • Offering great customer service, making it easy for people to do business with you, rewarding loyalty… – all of that, by definition, is part of what can make a product “the best”. A “product” is not just the features of the physical item or the specifications of the service – it’s everything about how the customer perceives and uses the product. So I believe a small business CAN have “the best product”.

  • jPeter78

    Funny how the same problems show up in different countries… Rural Canada business face the same problems… The big box stores won’t come here,  but the rural shoppers will drive and buy from them.  How do you tap into that $$ stream and also attract dollars back into your community?  I will be interested in reading the links you provided and will look forward to reading your upcoming book.
    I do agree you must compete for your customer loyalty and keep them coming back with great service… but how do you educate the people that don’t support the small town business and drive an hour or two to pick up their products when the above does not exist?  Education on both sides of the fence?

  • annettenack

    Funny enough but I’ve never entertained the idea of keeping things local when it comes to my business.  Of course, I’d love locally grown food.  I love local clients because the connection is easier to make but really thinking more about how to use “local” to my biz growth & benefit?  Not at all.  But I sure will now.  This post reminds me of when we used to know the name of the storekeepers when I was growing up.  We had real conversations, no auto tweeting there!  Definitely something for me to think over…

  • rmsorg

    I think with the economy the way it is, more people are shifting towards buying, supporting and sustaining local businesses.  They would rather see a local mom & pop store succeed than spend their hard earn money in large corporations/stores.  I enjoy the camaraderie of  my local businesses and support them every chance I get.  I feel like we share our “community” and it’s best interest and they can & will take the time to know me.  

    Thanks for this great post Barry & Becky!