Guest post by Deb Brown, Building Possibility
You might be thinking “It’s too early to think about Christmas!”
You’d be wrong. This is the perfect time to be thinking about Christmas. Let’s apply the Idea Friendly template over the holiday season. Remember the three tenets:
- Gather Your Crowd
- Build Connections
- Take Small Steps
Now is a great time to begin gathering your crowd. Are you a retail store? What other retail stores in your town can you partner with to create some exciting promotions for the holidays? Are there events you’ve done in the past and how can you make these events work well this year? Are there new businesses in town that you can invite to celebrate the holidays with? How can the holidays help reinforce the kind of town you are building together? Can you talk about family and community? Can you emphasize independent local businesses?
Building Connections happen all year long, and you’ll want to look closely at your connections now. It’s time to take a look at your customer base too. Have you updated your contact list? Who else should be on it? Is there someone you need to call in another town that did a really cool thing last year and you’d like to re-create it yourself? Who can you introduce to each other – to make the holidays in your town super special?
Take Small Steps. You don’t need elaborate parties. But what if a group of you hosted a one day event, everyone ponied up some money for advertising, mailed postcards to your customers and did some very cool specials, had a few pop ups in your stores as well, and made a shopping night to remember?
We do that every year – it’s called Ladies Night Out.
- We design and send one postcard out to our list. If you don’t have a list, use Every Door Direct from the USPS. You can literally have the postcards delivered to every door in designated mail routes.
- The Chamber creates one web page with all the shops involved and their specials. Ours is www.ladiesnightoutwc.com This website is put on each store’s bag stuffers, on Facebook, on posters and on fliers.
- Each participant pays an amount that correlates to the actual cost of making and mailing the postcards. If you want to advertise in the paper, you add that cost in as well.
- The event is always the 3rd Thursday in October. It’s a chance to shop, see the new Christmas items, and have a fun evening with your girls! October 20 from 12 to 9 pm this year.
- Our stores also give gift certificates as prizes. Every time someone spends $20 they get to enter into the contest to win a prize. This year we’ve got over $2,000 in prizes. We divide the certificates into 4 different prizes.
That’s just one holiday event idea that a group of businesses can partner on and create magic in their town.
Becky McCray and I will be talking about some great ideas for Downtown After 5 in our next webinar. We’d love to have you join us.
- About the Author
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Deb Brown comes from a farm outside of Geneva, Iowa, population 141. Her heart lies in sharing the possibilities for small towns. Deb travels a lot, taking back roads when possible, and talking to the locals, sharing stories of other small towns and encouraging anyone who will listen. She’s the co-founder of www.saveyour.town and owner of Building Possibility.