Keys to Effective Buy Local Campaigns
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When properly defined, organized and sustained, "buy local" campaigns have proven their ability to shift local culture and behavior. Independent business in communities with a long-term "buy local and independent campaign" reported revenue growth of 7.0% in 2013, tripling the 2.3% increase for independent businesses not served by such efforts (see below). Yet most campaigns fade away with little impact. The good news is most failures result from omissions and that are predictable and, with proper guidance, readily avoided.
AMIBA's publication, Building Buy Local Campaigns that Shift Culture and Spending, offers a concise overview of keys to success and distinctions between campaigns that fizzle and those that thrive. It's served as a starting point for many of the most successful campaigns. Thanks to underwriting from American Express OPEN, we're able to provide this primer free upon request in pdf format or, if you prefer a full-color magazine for easy reading and to make the most powerful impact on others, we'll include a free copy with any order of pro-local decals, posters or other materials (we'll also send them in any quantity at our cost of shipping).
This primer can't replace the tools, templates, support network and personal guidance you enjoy through joining AMIBA, provides a great way to help potential collaborators understand the power of a well-run buy local campaign and key principles to get started.
A well-run "buy independent / buy local" campaign that engages your local businesses and citizens can be a powerful tool to help sustain independent businesses and neighborhood-serving business districts. Buy local campaigns have exploded in recent years, bolstered by compelling data in annual surveys by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. *The 2014 survey is published here.
Important clarification: Some reports on the success of these initiatives neglect to mention the surveys measure only the impact of campaigns sustained by grassroots organizations that distinguish locally-owned independent businesses from franchises and chains. In recent years, hundreds of buy local campaigns only to fade away quickly with little impact. Be careful not to confuse the survey results with poorly-run campaigns that are too common.
AMIBA's staff provides comprehensive support and unrivaled experience in designing and implementing effective buy local campaigns, both directly and through assisting dozens of other organizations. City governments, independent trade associations, Main Street programs, rural development agencies and many others tap AMIBA's expertise to provide presentations, trainings and help design effective programs.
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AMIBA also provides a range of outreach materials to help spread pro-local messages, including pre-printed posters, decals, pins and more, as well as free templates you can employ online right away or print in your own community. Most materials can be customized for your city, town, business or organization.
Do yourself and your colleagues a favor -- don't waste time and money re-creating what's been developed and refined by dozens of groups over 15+ years! While every community should develop its own identity and customize its messaging, the basic principles of effective buy local / independent campaigns are universal. Too many groups have lost momentum and volunteers by spending months researching and discussing issues we could guide them through in a single workshop.
While education is a year-round process, annual events offer a great opportunity to build awareness at key times. Below are the three most prominent campaigns in the U.S. and Canada.
Small Business Saturday is a national initiative to help local merchants compete during the critical holiday shopping season and aims to drive shoppers to local small merchants the Saturday following Thanksgiving. More than 100 million Americans shopped small on Small Business Saturday last year, while more than 230 organizations endorsed the initiative.
Independents Week, the first week of July, connects “going local” with the American ideals of independence and the freedom to control one’s own livelihood. It celebrates entrepreneurial spirit, individuality, and recognizes the critical contributions of independent business. This AMIBA-facilitated event offers a wide range of activities and design templates free for anyone to use or adapt.
Shift Your Shopping is a joint effort through the holiday season led by the New England Local Business Forum, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and AMIBA. It aims to build an annual tradition that strengthens local economies, expands employment, nurtures a sense of community, and provides a more relaxed, fun, and rewarding gift-buying experience.
AMIBA is a non-profit (501c3) organization. Contact us to help you get started on the right track and tap into the unrivaled experience AMIBA offers.
By Jeff Milchen
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