July 16, 2010
Are you doing the right things in your Shop Local program?
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida recently discussed in a Florida Times-Union article what they could do better to revive interest in their struggling shop local program.
Many cities have been able to create successful shop local programs from the ground up, but many underestimate, or are shocked, at the costs associated with creating their own high performing, interactive websites to provide the online marketing piece for their overall shop local program. One city we’ve spoken with budgeted more than $50,000 in 2010 to promote their shop local program. One of their largest concerns was that a big chunk of that money would go towards web development expenses instead of marketing and promotion.
From our research, many of the most-successful and self-run, online shop local programs come from larger cities with far more resources than cities with less than 100,000 residents.
Here are some examples of the best home-grown Shop Local programs;
Shop Local SF – San Francisco – With top 5 reasons to Shop Local in San Francisco
Shop Local Raleigh – Raleigh, North Carolina: Shop Local…Show Some Local Love!
Local First Arizona – Non-profit organization representing a coalition of locally-owned businesses which form the backbone of the Arizona economy.
Shop Local Montclair - A cooperative of locally owned businesses in Montclair, New Jersey.
Questions Cities have asked:
What makes a Shop Local program successful?
Haltom City has created a successful program by involving key businesses in their area from the very beginning. They brought in several community groups and city committees & programs to discuss their Shop Haltom City campaign, which has allowed them to go from launch to 40 businesses in less than a month.
Skeds.com suggest that cities start out any Shop Local program by following this simple process;
- Involve key businesses in the program as early in the process as possible.
- Sign up the top 10 (or more) of the most prominent businesses in your area.
- Send out 3 x 5 postcards to all businesses within the city or civic group, and have the business sign up.
- Get a good portion of your businesses signed up to participate before you start marketing to residents.
- After you have a good sampling of businesses on your shop local program, include marketing materials about your shop local program in your cities regular direct mail, and marketing channels. This may include;
- Water Bills
- Electric Bills
- Monthly City Newsletter
- Chamber of Commerce Newsletter
- City Cable Channel
- Business Cards that promote the program at city offices for pickup by residents.
- Position the Shop Local program at a booth during city events.
We have seen these, and many more marketing ideas, contribute to the success of the Shop Local programs that have asked Skeds.com to help them.
What other resources are available online for marketing and promotional ideas concerning shop local or promoting local businesses?
- Shoplocalcampaign.com – Shop Local related blog ran by a successful local business owners, with ideas and motivation to help businesses.
- The 3/50 project. Great idea; challenge residents to spend $50 per month at the 3 local businesses they don’t want to go out of business.
- The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce purchased 7500 wristbands with their shop local message printed on it to give out to local residents.
What are the reasons to run a shop local program?
The basics reasons are to increase local sales tax revenues, and to help support local businesses and provide residents more choices on where and what to shop for within their city.
Here are some more resources that give lists of why shopping locally is so great;
- The City of North Richland Hills, Texas answer to , “Why Shop NRH?”
- Intuit’s Small Business Blog – Provides resources for small businesses.
- In her blog posting, “Take Local Bigger with a Shop Local Campaign”, author Becky McCray mentions some interesting stats,
- “Do Shop Local campaigns work? The research says yes. Let’s take Portland, Maine, as an example. In a 2007 survey to check the results of their project, more than 60 percent of businesses said they were seeing improved customer loyalty and sales. Almost 75% of businesses said customers had told them that they are making an effort to do more or all of their shopping at locally owned businesses. Forty percent of businesses said they had gained new customers from the project. That’s just one example. You’ll find dozens”
- Sylvia Wyant writes that local businesses return 80% of every dollar they take in to the local community.
- More benefits of doing business locally.
- Infographic – where the money goes when you shop local. Also, includes a list of top 10 reasons to shop local.
- Another follow the money, shop local infographic.
How does a shop local program get started?
Currently, there are several city ran programs and civic groups available to help businesses grow their customer base. Many cities have an Economic Development Corporation with the power to use sales tax revenue to improve access to businesses, and provide incentives to attract and retain local businesses. Additionally, most cities or metro areas have a Chamber of Commerce or other type of merchant association where businesses meet regularly to network and discuss innovative ideas related to their business. Generally speaking, the above groups are the driving force behind any shop local program. There are examples of shop local programs where the City or Chamber have not taken the initiative, and in those areas businesses have chosen to create their own shop local programs to promote their businesses and others.
What is Skeds.com, and City Skeds?
Skeds.com partners with cities and civic groups like Chambers of Commerce to provide shop local programs for their area. City Skeds provides our clients with a very cost-effective, and highly customizable platform to allow businesses to join the Shop Local program, and for residents to interact with the business and city in a meaningful way to find out about interesting businesses and coupons and offers from those businesses. The City Skeds product is being used by 8 cities with total populations of over 250,000 residents. Many more cities and civic groups are already committed to joining over the next few weeks.