There are few assets as valuable to a small business as their story.

Why is it so many small businesses surround local neighborhoods and yet so few consumers truly know what makes them remarkable.

When I started Drop In Local it wasn’t to run advertising or create deals.  It was to do what I could to share these stories.

After nearly two decades as a strategic marketing consultant, studying consumer psychology and working with companies who got it and those who never will, I discovered the biggest challenge facing small businesses:  being seen.

Until the market knows your story, you just blend in.  It’s like going to a graduation and watching young men and women walk across the stage to receive their diploma, many of whom faced challenges and are chasing dreams that would make even the toughest among us get choked up.  All of these stories crossing over that stage and you feel little emotion.  And then your cousin who overcame something or chased an impossible dream walks across and you melt down.

The magic, the emotion, the loyalty, begins with understanding and knowing the story.

Consumers watch, as businesses stand right in front of them day after day.  They watch companies come and go while rarely feeling the slightest connection either way.  They don’t know the story.

Consumers lump businesses into groups:  “That’s a sushi restaurant.  That’s a pizza place.  That’s a chiropractor.  That’s a marketing company.  That’s a fitness place.”  And so forth.

purple cows

People will look at the building you’re in, your signage, and your print ads and make huge assumptions, typically inaccurate assumptions.  The mind says “I know what they are all about” regardless of the reality of that assumption.  It’s just how the mind works.

So they ignore you.  Not because they want to, but because it’s easier and safer to go with what they know.  You aren’t special, so who cares?

This is the challenge of becoming a purple cow, as Seth Godin detailed in his book of the same name.  People don’t care until you make them.

We live in a digital age when attention spans are dwindling.  Even local consumers who want to support local or who fall in love with the stories of entrepreneurs, rarely have the patience or desire to hunt down your story and figure out why and how you’re not “just another”.

You have to do this on your own.

In every neighborhood you can see small shops closing down.  The large majority will never be missed for the simple reason no one truly understood why they were there in the first place, or why they should care.

It’s often after a business closes that people become inquisitive, find out the overall history and story of the business and then say “That’s too bad.  We really should have supported them”.  Who knew?

Who knew indeed?

I have seen companies gain remarkable traction through creative means.  There’s always a creative, daring marketer willing to break all the rules and make some noise.

But what about the other ninety nine percent who aren’t as comfortable stepping outside their comfort zone to cultivate buzz and present themselves as purple cows?  What happens to them?  How do they win.

They win by focusing on sharing their story with anyone who will listen.  The story, when crafted intelligently, can trump all.

At this very moment consumers are making assumptions.  They are lumping you and your business into a category.  You are “just another” except to those who know you are anything but.

How can reach the larger market with the message “I’m NOT just another…!” ?

Share the good, the bad and the ugly.   Share the dream.

Share your story.