When times get tough, creating a business association in your area to pool advertising ideas, promotions, and marketing costs can benefit all retailers who participate.
The following tips can help retailers that are located in the same district or that have a similar business type to benefit from working together to offer targeted promotions to bring shoppers to their area.
Many retailers in downtown areas, strip malls, and other retail hubs are forming associations to help market their wares more effectively and generate shoppers’ interest. For example, retailers in downtown Reno, Nevada, have formed the Downtown Retailers’ Association that promotes downtown merchants with a variety of fun and enticing events, such as the Wine Walk, which takes place every month. For a small fee, shoppers can wander from shop to shop, tasting wine (in a glass provided when shoppers pay their fee), while discovering wares in furniture shops, vintage bookstores, and more. The event has become increasingly popular and to keep it fresh, the merchants create special themes and charity events and highlight different local events throughout the year.
Another idea is for several area restaurants to form an alliance that offers periodical “dine-arounds.” Diners purchase tickets giving them access to each restaurant, where they taste different appetizers and wines before moving on to the next location. At least once a year the dine-around proceeds go to a local charity, making them even more enticing to customers.
In other areas, restaurants, coffee shops, and lounges have offered combined promotions where if patrons buy a drink or an appetizer at a local lounge, they can take advantage of free coffee at a nearby coffeehouse or a discount on food from a nearby deli.
Entertainment works especially well for bringing in a young, hip crowd that is more apt to spend money, especially if the entertainment is somewhere central, such as a closed-off street or a restaurant patio, where people from throughout the district can enjoy the music. By working together to promote these events, costs are lower, while everyone benefits from the increased attention and attendance.
Business owners can also work behind the scenes to help one another. In one case, several female business owners created a mentoring program. They hold monthly meetings to come up with promotional and marketing ideas, and each one has an area in her shop or business where she promotes the other members’ businesses with business cards, fliers, and special promotions available only to shoppers who have patronized another member.
Promote Shopping Locally
Working together helps retailers promote shopping locally. With money so tight, many people would rather give what disposable income they do have to local merchants to help maintain local jobs. Making sure those shoppers know your business is there is crucial in this economy, and teaming up can help make it easier for all the businesses in your area to advertise, and thereby survive.