Is your downtown looking a little weary of late? Businesses losing out to big box stores? Fight back with cheap and creative small business marketing ideas culled from Main Streets across the country.
ORGANIZE A MAIN STREET BLOCK PARTY
Every summer, Gloucester MA hosts a series of monthly block parties. Restaurant tables spill out into the street, local bands entertain the crowds, free movies are shown, stores are open late – and NO CARS are allowed.
Visit any European city and you’ll see firsthand how foot traffic boosts sales. So if you’re looking for better returns, take a cue from Gloucester and:
- Talk to your local government about shutting down streets to traffic on certain dates.
- Work with other Main Street stores to coordinate promotions.
- Cater to families with store events, face painting, games & invitations for children’s groups to entertain.
- Get restaurants involved by moving the dining experience to the street.
If you have a spare moment, check out these other hard-working Main Streets for more ideas:
- Main Street Blissfield – A Railroad Day and a Tractor Cruise-In? Yep, we’re in Michigan.
- Downtown Mesa – Bwwwhahh, October is a Nightmare on Main Street.
SPONSOR A HOLIDAY SHOPPING SPREE
Most Main Streets have holiday-themed events, but why not add an extra incentive? To pull in the punters, stores in the Durant Main Street Program club together to offer an annual holiday shopping spree giveaway.
- Anyone who shops at local stores is placed in a random draw.
- One week before Christmas the winner is announced.
- Winners can spend their winnings in any local store that participated.
Seasonal festivals bring in tourist dollars as well. Talk to local and state government officials about opportunities to defray costs.
BLOG FOR YOUR LOCAL PAPER
Sure, you can blog on your own Main Street organization site, but your local paper is going to reach a much wider readership. Many papers like the News & Observer in North Carolina already post recipes from local restaurant owners; why not approach your local editor with an expanded vision?
Each week, a local store owner provides one piece of content on their area of expertise.
- Antique store owner provides a tip article on identifying and restoring old silver.
- Home goods store owner creates 3 Pinboards with living rooms that incorporate crafts from local artists.
- Hardware store owner films a YouTube tutorial on how to install a backsplash.
This one will take a fair amount of prior organization, but it’s in business owner’s interest to keep on schedule if a news photographer is turning up on their doorstep.
DEVELOP A MAIN STREET MOBILE APP
When is an event happening? Do you have store specials? Where can I park? What can I do with the kids? The answer may be in your back pocket. Many towns are developing mobile tools like the Main Street Delaware Mobile App to lend visitors a helping hand.
If you’re working on developing a mobile app, remember a couple of things:
- Make it free and make it easy to use.
- Include a geotargeting option for those who want to know what’s closest to their location.
- Use pictures & short video clips to increase interest.
And before you start, check out Mobile Main Street, a non-profit that’s working on pretty snazzy community initiatives.
Looking for more creative small business marketing tips? Contact me for a free consultation.