A great way for destinations to support their local merchants and create real business impact is through a shop local program. Encouraging residents, and visitors, to support the merchants that make your town unique puts more dollars back into improving your community. We have seen first hand the positive effect that these programs have through our work implementing and marketing shop local programs with our partner Yiftee*.
If you are thinking about starting a shop local program at your destination, or looking to take your current one to the next level, check out our tips below.
Include and Energize your Merchants
A successful shop local program starts with the cooperation of a destination’s merchants. It is important to remember to properly communicate with your merchants throughout the entire life of the shop local program so they feel supported, and continue to promote it. Be sure your city has updated contact information for businesses in town, and a process in place to communicate with them, whether through email, newsletter or webinars.
Initially you will want to educate businesses on the benefits of joining the program and later on give them the tools to properly promote it to their clientele. If you are having trouble getting merchants on board, consider offering an incentive to businesses for participating. Create and distribute marketing materials, like printable flyers and social media graphics, so merchants feel supported and can easily assist in promoting shop local.
(Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash)
Ongoing visibility and marketing
One common misstep we see destinations make is coming out strong when initially launching their shop local program, but then forgetting to continuously promote it. Staying top of mind of your audience is another component of a successful shop local program. Be sure to promote the program in your newsletters, on your social accounts and to your local media on a regular basis. In addition, make it fun for your shoppers by incorporating various marketing campaigns offering incentives and prizes for supporting local businesses.
“At Yiftee, one way we get shoppers excited is through BOGO egift card offers that are sponsored by the city or an organization within the city,” says Donna Novitsky, Yiftee CEO. “These promotions have been successful in driving additional incremental revenue for the cities while also engaging and bringing the community together”.
Get Everyone on the Bandwagon
Having a supercharged shop local program requires everyone being involved, local government, employers, and consumers. Be sure to consider all these entities when creating and implementing your shop local program. One way to do this is to accurately communicate the benefits of this program to each audience, as they will all find different value in it. Getting all three of these groups enthusiastic about supporting your shop local program is key to its continued success.
Shop Local Marketing Tips
It is important to not only market your shop local program to consumers, but to your merchants as well. Below are some of our tips to include in your shop local marketing strategy:
- Out of Home: Create point of sale flyers for merchants, postcards, street banners etc.
- Public Relations: Reach out to local media if you are hosting a special shop local promotion or event.
- Social Media: Use your own social media accounts to get the word out about your shop local program and partner with other local organizations and influencers to help you spread the word on their accounts as well.
- Website/Newsletters: Include graphics and mentions of your shop local program on your website and promote regularly in your newsletters.
Our suggestions above are just some of the ways that you can make your shop local program great. If you are interested in gaining some additional insights regarding your destination, we would love to help!
*About Yiftee, Keep Local Dollars Local
Yiftee serves more than 450 communities and 15,000 local businesses with simple, secure, PoS-independent eGift Cards that keep local dollars local – more than $30M since the pandemic began in 2020. The company works with Chambers of Commerce, Downtowns, Main Streets, Business Improvement Districts, City Governments and other local organizations to create “Community Cards,” branded for the community and redeemable at 10s to 100s of local businesses. Organizations and individuals purchase them online and send them via email, text or print to friends, family, and co-workers to support their local businesses. There is no cost to the organizers or merchants for the program. Yiftee also provides custom-branded cards for individual merchants, franchises, and chains. More info at Yiftee.com, email: email@example.com, Twitter: @Yiftee, Facebook: facebook.com/yiftee/.
Guest blog post by Creative Digital Agency