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 spending to benefit independent businesses. As the go-to source for communities looking to get started, it's become challenging to keep up with requests for our assistance. So, with support from American Express OPEN, we created this publication to provide a solid introduction to organizing an effective campaign. Get a pdf of Building Buy Local Campaigns that Shift Culture and Spending (12 pp) free upon request or, if you'd like a color magazine for easy reading, we'll include a free copy with any order of pro-local decals, posters or other materials.
While it's no replacement for the tools, templates, and personal guidance you enjoy through affiliating with AMIBA, this primer provides a great way to help potential collaborators understand the power of a well-run buy local campaign or Independent Business Alliance®, and some of the key distinctions between campaigns that fizzle and those that thrive.
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 five annual surveys by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR). The surveys suggest independent businesses and communities gain major benefits from sustained campaigns by IBAs and similarly-modeled organizations. The 2012 survey is summarized in our January newsletter or get the full report (pdf) from ILSR.
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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.
The good news? Most failures occur for predictable reasons that we can help you avoid. With the right framing, messaging and structure, you can build an effective program capable of creating long-term shifts to benefit independent businesses in your community.
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 or many materials you can employ online right away or print in your own community. Virtually all materials we produce can be customized for your city, town, business or organization.
Do yourself and your colleagues a favor -- don't waste time and energy re-creating what's been developed and refined for more than a decade! While every community should develop its own identity and customize its messaging, basic principles of effective buy local / independent campaigns are universal. Too many groups have lost momentum and volunteers by spending weeks or months researching and discussing issues we could guide them through in a single meeting.
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. See Facebook.com/shopsmall.
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. ShiftYourShopping.org
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.
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