Does “Shop Local” Messaging Limit Your Potential?
Suppose you’re in the market for a new road bike. You ride past a local bike shop you’ve not yet visited and, though it offers a wide variety of road bikes inside, all you see is its large display window entirely filled by mountain bikes. Based off of the display alone what judgement are you likely to make about whether that’s the shop for you?
Now consider a common practice among pro-local business groups. Many pro-local business campaigns feature retail-centric messaging like shop local or buy local — some even feature their logo on a shopping bag. While those messages are appropriate for certain events or campaigns, using them as general slogans may limit you like the bike shop’s window display. In the eyes of local service providers, banks, farmers, print shops, makers and others, retail-centric messaging may suggest your group has nothing to offer for their needs.
A successful campaign to shift more business to locals requires engaging businesses across many sectors. So consider using inclusive language like “go local,” “local first” and ” Keep (Our Town) Weird,” along with specific calls to action that touch on different sectors of your constituents (“eat local,” “bank local” etc.).
How Inclusive Messaging Will You Stronger
Even though Independent retailers tend to include the best-known businesses in most communities and they obviously face intense competition from corporate chains and online mega-retailers there’s no trade-off in delivering a broader message. Using more encompassing language will communicate to your retailers how they will be better served by your broader and more powerful campaigns intended to embrace the full spectrum of independent businesses in the community.
Also, be aware many independent businesses don’t have storefronts (about half of all businesses are home-based). Consciously referencing agriculture, artisans, and the spectrum of home-based businesses will ensure your work engages and serves all local independents. Unlike storefront business owners, those folks often are overlooked by other businesses groups, so they may be thrilled to be approached by a group sincerely interested in their challenges and helping them succeed.
Naming Your Organization
While slogans and logos make a statement to potential members and the public, an organization’s name speaks even more loudly about their focus. While some successful AMIBA member organizations use “buy local” or “shop local” in their name or/and logo, most would choose differently if they started fresh today with the benefit of their experience.
The single most popular name for AMIBA member organizations is City/Town/region Independent Business Alliance* (note that Independent Business Alliance is an AMIBA trademark and can be used only by affiliates). Go Local, Local First, Think Local First and “Our Town’” Grown are among other popular choices that embrace the full spectrum of local businesses.
Examples of IBA Taglines and Slogans
Currently in use:
Keep Louisville Weird (Austin, Boulder)
Think Local. Be Local. Buy Local.
Buy Local. Grow Local. Thrive Local.
Experience the Difference
Think Local. Buy Local.
Think Local First!
Local Spoken Here (Flagstaff Spoken Here)
Helping Our Community Grow from Within
Keep Portland Independent
Think Independently ~ Go Locally-Owned
Neighbors Supporting Neighbors
Building a Better Community
Show Some Local Love!
Be Vocal for Local!
Ideas not yet used (feel free to grab them — please tell us if you do!)
It’s Not Just Business, It’s Personal
Go Local, Grow Local (title of an AMIBA conference)