Selling Local

Last month, Cincinnati lost a fantastic public radio station. WNKU was primarily a roots rock station, with a smattering of Americana, blues, reggae and classic alternative music thrown in for good measure. But the thing that really set them apart was their tremendous support of the local music scene. They played a local artist or band every single hour, and they were an awesome source of information about new upcoming bands in the area. After 33 years of broadcast, they signed off for the final time playing “This Must be the Place” by Talking Heads. For music and radio geeks like me, it was a sad day.

My son asked why t was so upsetting to me, and I explained that since 1999 when I was a college kid delivering pizzas, I had a button in every car dedicated to WNKU, and that I had been listening to the station through a big chunk of my life. He suggested that I could just listen to Sirius/XM radio instead, and, much to his chagrin, I launched into a diatribe about how some flapjack programming a commercial satellite channel in New York City is simply NOT THE SAME as having a local program director who is curating a music selection that includes new, obscure and highly localized musicians. He probably wished he had never gotten me started.

Recently, there has been a huge uptick in consolidation within the green industry. A number of large landscape companies have been rolled up, creating regional and national organizations that have a tremendous scale and revenue level. Within the last few months, Trugreen has made several acquisitions in the Northeast, effectively removing large independent lawn care operators from the map. It feels like we are in a very active merger and acquisition period.

If you are a local company, you should be promoting your local ownership as a benefit to your clients. If you aren’t, you’re missing one of the easiest opportunities to communicate a unique selling proposition. Yes, a customer can always hire Trugreen and get their $39 application - and some people will be happy with their service and results. And some landscape clients will be happy working with a large landscape company that has recently been acquired by an out of state holding company. But just like Sirius is a poor replacement for a local radio station, these companies can’t offer the same level of personalized service and local expertise that you can as a local business. You know the local weather, agronomy and soils. You know what type of landscape projects make sense in your real estate market, and you know more about your clients’ needs and wants than a national company ever can. So use that to your advantage. Promote yourself as “Locally Owned,” promote your experience in the market, and position yourself as a local expert whenever possible. If you have even a single Subaru driver in your area, you have probably seen the bumper sticker that says “Buy Local.” There are people out there who strongly prefer hiring a local business. I encourage you to help them do so.