1. Create an environment for advocacy.
What issues in your community are resonating with shoppers? In the 1980s, customer questions and suggestions led Alfalfa’s to be one of the first stores to support dolphin-free tuna. You can make it easy for shoppers to voice concerns through regularly scheduled round-table discussions and by being visible at community events. When an issue resonates with Alfalfa’s mission, purpose and core beliefs, Retzloff says the store finds a way to support it and to inform the wider community.
2. Take a side.
Unlike larger retailers that might face corporate red tape when trying to take a political position, smaller, independent retailers have more freedom. Invite local politicians into your store to discuss issues that are important to you and your customers. Promote these visits on your Facebook page and via Twitter to show your involvement and potentially lure new shoppers through your doors.
3. Communicate your position.
In addition to the company’s social media efforts, Alfalfa’s uses a 5-by-20-foot video wall in the store to share messages, photographs and community information with shoppers. “We want our customers to know that we’re passionate about what we’re doing,” Retzloff says. “You’ve got to walk your talk. You have to be authentic.”