The Internet is a wonderful tool but can be scary if you don’t know how to make the best use of it. In today’s blog post Chris Fox the digital media manager of Wishes of Cudworth looks at how joining a business or community association can benefit your shop. This article was originally published in Greetings Today Magazine. Banner image by Dave Draws
Cudworth Businesses & Community Together
One of the surprising benefits of our retail event the Cudworth Bunny Trail is that it’s got the retailers on our high street talking. Yes, there’s always been gossip and the occasional head nod but the Trail has broken down the barriers. By working together on the project we’ve really started talking.
All this friendly networking has lead to us looking into forming Cudworth Businesses & Community Together. Or to use our trendy acronym: The CBCT. This new group of retailers is looking to transform our village. To use of our super-retail powers to create a thoroughly modern shopping utopia. To make Cudworth the home of indie shops and attract people from all over Yorkshire.
So, what you may ask do we have planned for our little village?
As I write this article we’ve already had over 100 people do the Cudworth Bunny Trail. Lessons have been learnt, with more ‘guidelines’ to be introduced (mainly to do with increased parental supervision). We’re running a lovely colouring competition in the shop to keep the bunny buzz going. I’m also looking at upping the scale of the trail. Exploring the idea of working with local artists and even having some large bunnies in public areas. We’re also looking at bringing back the Christmas Carnival with a Santa’s Grotto, one of the suggestions for this year.
One of the advantages of the CBCT is that we can look to run combined promotions. Late night opening hours can be synchronized and Christmas promotions can be launched at the same time. We can all use our Facebook pages to post about the next event in the village. The Cudworth Bunny Trail has proven that by working together we can be stronger.
We’ve made the front cover of the Barnsley Chronicle, had two bloggers visit us and I hope to have a local video team visit us soon. All this can be shared on all our combined social media pages to really promote the village to the largest possible audience.
If you a regular reader of my column in Greetings Today magazine you might have read my comments regarding naming and shaming on Facebook. Posting videos of shoplifters as a warning. The feedback after my column from shop owners was that such measures work but it can easily backfire. One of the options we’re exploring is a shop watch scheme. Where information about ‘troublesome’ individuals can be shared.
This can also be linked in existing Facebook groups like the Barnsley Community Watch page. The advantage of the association is that a representative from the Police can attend our meetings and advice what strong but legal methods we can use to prevent crime in the future. We’re also looking into a new Cudworth community Facebook page and Twitter account where we can share information separately from our own shop’s feed.
Empty Retail Units
Is your own high street packed full of cool independent shops?
Maybe it’s more takeaways, charity shops and worst still empty units?
The dream of course is a mixture of shops and businesses that compliment each other. A modern twist on the traditional high street with destination shops. Shops that your customers will search for online, to then be inspired to visit. Shopping online is often seen as a threat to bricks and mortar shops but we need to give our customers a reason to leave their sofas.
One of the options we’re exploring is the creation of Pop-Up shops. To transform empty units in to monthly shops run by local artists, crafters and food suppliers. The advantage is that existing retailers can have a say about what complimentary shops come to the high street. To ensure more fashionable and exciting shops sit along side our own. To say why not to Pop-Ups.
Identify Your Skills
Much like the A-Team our high street retailers have different skills. Our shop owners have worked in Marketing, Security and even as a Castle Tour Guide (Wishes owner Julia Keeling). Like a Yorkshire Magnificent Seven we each add something into the mix. The idea long term is to create a Cudworth brand along with a website and social media accounts. A place we can promote ourselves plus our events.
My background in marketing means that I already have the necessary tools to crack on with the job. I’m not scared of HTML, SSL, CSS and SEO. Not that I’m blowing my own trumpet too much but identifying your strengths and delegating your weakness can only save time. Never be afraid to ask advice or learn something new but equally look to find the right person for the job.
Our association will have clear objectives with team leaders who each have their own particular set of skills. Other retailers might already have relationships with the local council, press and community meaning it’s easier to link up with established organisations.
Sharing is Caring
“Oi, Chris! Isn’t this column is called On the Line?” You may shout at your Greetings Today Magazine (Well you won’t because your reading this on the very digital Gift Shop Hub – still let’s use a little imagination).
So, why I’m I talking about the benefits of old school, real world networking?
Because my card loving pals, you need something to promote online. Events help create a local buzz. New Pop-Up shops becoming a talking point. A Christmas Carnival not only draws people into your area but also give you something to build around when promoting yourself online.
The likelihood is that the CBCT will also have a private Facebook group or website forum and exist in an online form too. It’s early days but a monthly email newsletter will keep those unable to attend meetings in the loop. You may have a few hundred followers on Facebook/Twitter but add up the retailers and your looking at thousands.
To quote Henry Ford “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”