Campaign best practice

At GO LOCAL FIRST we’ve seen some great ways to encourage communities to GO LOCAL FIRST and shop with their local small businesses. From East Kimberly to Sale, from Narrabri to Victor Harbour, local business chambers and councils have been hard at work, putting consumer incentives in place and promoting them to their local communities.

GO LOCAL FIRST is sharing some bright ideas with you as you start or expand your campaigns. And because we love to know what’s going on in your patch, please tell us what is working for you so we can share it with the many hundreds of local buying campaigns happening around Australia, supporting small local businesses.

Enjoy the ideas, share them with your local business chambers and councils – some of them are sure to work for you!

1. Create an incentive

The Coonamble Chamber of Commerce with sponsorship and support from Coonamble Shire Council run the Keep Coonamble Kicking campaign.  Around 80 businesses have each contributed to a cash prize of $14,000 for the Buy Local Draw, where customers who spend more than $150 a year with local businesses are able to enter. The winners of the draw also spend the cash prizes at the participating businesses, so local money continues to support local small businesses.  The Keep Coonamble Kicking Campaign began all the way back in 2003/04, and now has so many entries that it requires a cement truck for the draw!

2. Deliver to locals

While social distancing remains a priority for all Australians, delivery services are a great way to ensure local businesses can reach their customers.  There are loads of great examples out there including Canberra Eats and Yass2You.

3. Set up a directory

The key for a consumer to choose to shop locally is often simply knowing what’s on offer in their local area.  A first step can be signing up for a Google My Business account so you can add your business to Google Maps.

Many councils and business chambers have set up directories to make it easy for consumers to find the services and products that they need from local businesses.  Here are two great examples of what a local business directory can be: Mosman Chamber of Commerce, and Business Wodonga.

4. Find your local influencers

Build momentum for a local campaign by enlisting the support of your local influencers.  Hop on Facebook and see who in your town or region has the largest following – it could be a local sports club and is often the local school.  Don’t forget your local MP, mayor, and media personalities many of whom will have significant online followings.  Get in touch and find a way to work with your local influencers!  A great example is Kate Waterhouse helping to promote Think Mosman First.

5. Gift card schemes

Many councils and business chambers around Australia have successfully implemented a gift card scheme that facilitates an easy way for consumers to choose to shop with local businesses.  There are a number of service providers across Australia who advise on setting up one of these schemes, provide technical support and provide marketing assistance.  Check out these examples and consider whether this approach would work in your local area:

6. Get digital

It’s more important than ever to maximise your digital opportunities to engage with consumers, build connections with businesses, and raise awareness about the importance of shopping locally.  It can be as simple as featuring local small business owners on your digital channels. Take a look at the GO LOCAL FIRST Facebook page for examples.

Digital channels offer substantial reach at a low cost and are often the best way to reach a high proportion of your community with a minimal amount of work.

There are often local businesses who specialise in developing digital platforms, so when you’re looking to increase your digital capacity, look into your community’s offerings first. For example, the Kwinana Chamber of Commerce have employed a social media contractor to promote small business to local consumers.

Research has shown that one of the main obstacles preventing consumers from shopping locally is lack of information. Setting up a simple online marketplace is easy to set up and can mitigate this, as well as providing another avenue for local businesses to sell their goods. An excellent example of this is the Buy from North East Vic, which was set up by a number of councils in regional Victoria and provides a centralised platform for small businesses in the area to sell their products.

7. Don’t forget B2B and procurement

Although the GO LOCAL FIRST campaign focuses on shifting household and individual consumer behaviour, there are also opportunities to promote business-to-business transactions and procurement for local governments and councils. For example, the Townsville council launched a strong B2B campaign, which is focused on ensuring local businesses purchase from each other.

8. Hit the streets

Hitting the streets and going door-to-door is an effective way to raise awareness and requires little more than legwork.

For example, as part of the Mosman Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Think Mosman First’ initiative, volunteer business owners produced a one-page flier and letterbox dropped the entire area. The flier included top-line campaign information, encouraged people to shop locally and linked to an online directory of local businesses.

9. Take advantage of Google Maps.

Joining up to Google’s “My Business” means a business automatically gets a pin drop and is a free and easy way to keep your business information up to date and increase your searchability.  It’s worked for the Riverside Business Chamber, who ran a number of workshops teaching local business owners how to use the service.

10. Partner with your local Rotary Club

It’s a big ask to undertake a campaign by yourself, so why not recruit some of your locals to help out? Community clubs, such as Rotary Clubs  often have members who are keen to help their community and are willing to do the leg work local business owners don’t have time for, like letter box dropping, as they found in West Brisbane.

11. Use your local media

Local media usually has the ear of the locals and are often keen to help support the community. Ask your local radio station, or community radio station to do a regular feature on small local businesses and all the good they do. Alternatively, if you’re running your own campaign, approach them and see if they’d be willing to donate some airtime to get the word out.

12. Showcase your community through videos

Depending on the size of your community, or your local small businesses, it might be worthwhile choosing to showcase the work they do through a series of videos.

It’s so easy to set up a community YouTube or Facebook page, film videos and put them online. Whether they’re shorter videos, filmed locally. Or if you do have access to videographers – either through the businesses themselves, or local Councils – to have them filmed professionally.

Some excellent examples include:

If you’ve got any examples of other bright ideas which encourage local spending then we’d love to hear about them: