It is tough being an optimist. To believe that things are going to get better when we are surrounded by people determined to seek out and promote the negatives.
But I happen to be optimisitic by nature and thought. Sure it is easy to think that things are bad, as we face the current unprecedented Coronavirus, and the potential turmoil of change in how business is done with GB and Europe, but look for the positives and you can find them, all around us.
Local businesses have an opportunity to challenge the norm of customer behaviour, and present themselves as genuine alternatives to buying products and produce from elsewhere.
At a basic level, food grown here can be promoted and sold here, not simply because it is fresher, but with the added elements of taste, environmental impact and the feel good factor of buying local. I have a bugbear about strawberries in December, not simply because they taste bland and are flown half way around the world, but because the genuine pleasure of having a 6 week summer window of strawberries has been taken away.
Local retailers who sell online can open Amazon stores, but then when the customer goes looking, they can quickly discover all the competitors from around the world, and may be persuaded by brand, a few quid, or more reviews. It is also very difficult for individual retailers to get real visibility to sell online, as Google and Facebook advertising is difficult and can be costly if you want traction.
Business to business businesses are bought and sold on recommendations and location, some networking in local business associations, and shop fronts, but there are more ways to skin a cat!
Business to consumer is a bit of a lottery? Accountants, financial advisors, solicitors and others are often found online or on the high street. They are not frequently used by most people, so it can be as much about where someone parks their car as if they can tell what’s good and bad.
The changes that 2020 brought about are not all negative. People are going to be more open to change, to look for new ways to work, to innovate the High Street, to include digital, not make it either or, and to challenge the buyers to try a little harder.
We get caught up in conventions, opening hours, pricing and sales methods, language, communication, and then someone comes along and we are left saying “why didn’t I think of that?” And then Uber, Airbnb, Amazon and others change the landscape almost overnight and we are scrambling to catch up. It happened in advertising, where I spent over 30 years, and which has been totally disrupted in the past ten.
So with TheBigNIMarket we are taking the lead. We are promoting local, pushing companies to look at things collaboratively, creating a new platform that is different, offering a service for £10 a month that will deliver hugely more than that amount would get on the existing channels.
It’s up to you, do you want to be in the leading group, or the following pack?