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Simple Marketing and Content Plan for Main Streets, Downtown & Business Associations, and Shopping Centers

Marketing 3-4-5™ Activities Specifically Crafted For Main Street & Downtown Associations and other Business Groups - Browse all industry plans here

Sustainable marketing for your Main Street & Downtown Association, Business Group, or Shopping Center is surprisingly simple yet impactful

Main Street & Downtown Associations, Business Groups, and Shopping Centers play a special part in your community, effective marketing helps you engage your stakeholders and fulfill your mission

We have the honor of working with many Main Street & Downtown Associations and we've been a Main Street America Allied Partner since 2019. We've observed that they consistently struggle to effectively share their vision and mission as well as highlight their merchants and their efforts to improve their community.

The cause is usually a blend of limited time, too much to do, lack of marketing know-how and experience, and the wrong tools for the job... notice we didn't list budget?

Check out the 4-Part Marketing Main Street webinar series for real-world examples and more details.

Effectively market your local Main Street & Downtown Association or business group through simple marketing activities that leverage the things you already do.

This simple marketing and content plan is based on our Marketing 3-4-5™ approach and shows how every local Main Street & Downtown Association or Business Group and Shopping Center can clearly and effectively market online.

As we always say, content drives marketing, and we've built tools that make it surprisingly easy for local businesses to follow a repeatable process for creating impactful content.

Below are simple ways for you to rapidly create content that is relevant, compelling, yet requires zero creativity for your Main Street & Downtown Associations.

How to get started marketing your organization and members in just a few steps:

Event Promotion and Event Story-Arcs

Most Main Streets and Downtowns make events a major focus, these activities are more than just a day on the calendar, they're stories that need telling!

These events should be listed in a calendar on your website featuring upcoming events (it should be sortable to show past classes too). Create a calendar in your Locable account to promote your events on your website, collect registration, sell tickets, and even publish your events to your Google Business Profile and Google Maps.

Go further, create companion blog posts  - including event preview article(s) and an event recap article - for the event... these are two of the 12 templates available through our Prompt-based Guided Blogging feature.

Business Blogging About Your Community

At its core, Business Blogging enables you to share activities from your business or organization, or - in this case - your community. 

Event preview articles enable you to tell more of the human side of the story and add more context to connect with people and places in your community. Highlight sponsors, vendors, beneficiaries volunteers, the grand marshall and much more.

As we explained in an article for Main Street America about leveraging your current activities to increase your impact, you can then do articles after events highlighting an attendee or two - what they learned, the benefits they got out of it, what they did, what they thought of the experience etc. This follow-up article can include pictures, embedded YouTube videos, and a simple recap. Including funny or unexpected happenings and quotes from attendees and volunteers help further drive home the connection to your community.

These event recap posts commemorate a recent event and remind people of the great time they had, or that they missed out on a fun or impactful experience... 

You should reference any and all local businesses and nonprofits and - when shared to social media - tag those organizations to take advantage of “ego-bait.”

This approach goes beyond a singular event and creates story arcs that can span weeks - if not months - to deliver ongoing promotional value.

Best of all, if this event recurs annually, then when you write next year’s preview article you can refer to last year’s recap article to relive the fun. Not only is this sort of compelling content quick and easy to use, but when you link within your own website, you’re showing Google that you are a force in your community.

Volunteer or Employee Recognition

Your volunteers and employees are important to Main Street and can be a bigger part of your marketing.

The people who choose to participate alongside you to help you fulfill your mission are special and worthy of your recognition. More than that, highlighting these people is a great way to tap into their network and increase your odds of attracting other like-minded individuals to your cause.

Recognizing people in a blog post is an easy way to reward them for a job well done while helping others get to know your organization.

Content about people featuring smiling faces is more engaging than most other types of content - it gets more engagement on social media when shared and attracts more attention when people see it on your website or email newsletter.

You have a variety of options to recognize employees. You can recognize employees regularly as an employee of the month, when they reach some meaningful goal, you can recognize them in an ad-hoc way when customers report a great experience to you or even celebrate new hires and work anniversaries. Again, Volunteer Recognition and Employee Recognition are two more of the 12 Prompt-based Guided Blogging templates included our software.

This is also an opportunity to identify any unique skills or experience they bring to the team and, if relevant, ways you are using their know-how to train up other members of your team. Include Q&A such as:

  • How long have you been volunteering with [COMPANY]?
  • Why did you want to work with [COMPANY] in the first place?
  • What are you most proud of with regard to your work at [COMPANY] or what's your favorite memory of working here?
  • What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?

If you're hiring or recruiting for volunteers, including a note at the end of each Volunteer or Employee Recognition post alerting and linking readers to your job openings is a great way to use marketing to build your team - there are, after all, 3 reasons to do marketing. Use our free Job Opening and Volunteer Opportunities boards to show your openings on your website and distribute them online.

Whenever possible, give your content a human-interest angle

Include your employees to share their favorites. Do they have a memory or event favorite? Perhaps they have a seasonal favorite or product that reminds them of a favorite experience?

This is a great, fun, easy way to help people connect with your staff and see menu items that you feature all at once.

We wrote the Local Lovin' Book on Marketing

Simplify marketing into 15-minute activities that help you get found - everywhere!

Historic Preservation & Revitalization

Your projects deliver tremendous value but often go overlooked by your stakeholders - it shouldn't be this way.

This is similar conceptually to the story arcs you should be creating for events, there is a tremendous opportunity to create storytelling content around projects underway in your district. We recently showed how you can take a page out of the marketing book at the Indianapolis Children's Museum to chronicle the progress of a project.

The projects you undertake in your community (or your business) are opportunities to engage your community even before you break ground.

You can give locals a reason to be excited by posting project announcements and updates as progress is made including things like a behind-the-scenes look and more context for the project. Ultimately, when the project is completed you can show still more pictures and interview the people involved then wrap things up by explaining how people can participate or what benefit they get.

"We have a Main Street organization here? What is it that you do there?..."

How many people in your community don't know you exist or what you do? Too many!

Using simple content to share your impact gives people hope, helps them feel connected - especially now - and may lead them to get involved.

Rapidly producing content to spotlight merchants, recognize volunteers, elevate Small Business Saturday and much more helps you share what makes “here” special... Growing a sense of community pride is always a good idea.

Discover How Locable can Transform Your Community

Experience a live demo of our software including our Community Calendar, approach, and programs, get answers to your specific questions, and find out how Locable can save you hours every week.

Business, Sponsor & Supporter Spotlight Articles

How much value would it bring, how impactful would it be if when people did a Google search for one of your businesses they found your content on the 1st page of Google? It'd be pretty great if, say, 10%, 30% or even 50% of the time a business was searched for by name and your content showed up - this is possible if you make creating spotlight articles a part of your marketing activities.

Local supporters - both individuals and businesses, or business owners - make your organization possible. In this case, if you are a resource for sponsors then why not recognize them?

In doing so, you can recognize their contribution You make them look good and demonstrate your value to the community in their words.

Tell their story.

A simple post explaining the nature of your relationship and a simple Q&A with your partner is fast and easy. A few questions we recommend include:

  • How did they get involved with your organization?
  • What brought them to you in the first place or who referred them to you?
  • Why did they choose to support you? What about your mission resonates with them?
  • What other local causes or nonprofits do they support?
  • Why is supporting local important to them?
  • What would they say to someone else thinking about supporting your missions?

Are there businesses that regularly send you referrals or to whom you regularly refer people? Those should be featured on a Support Local directory on your website and they can reciprocate to promote you right back.

When you do this, you're showing you're a team player when it comes to the community, you get to share why other businesses think you're great, and you tap into your partner's audience all without breaking a sweat.

Coordinate Collaborative Campaigns

Multi-Merchant Campaigns enables you to engage your merchants around various themes whether they be seasonal like Valentines Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, 4th of July, Back to School, Thanksgiving, and Christmas or locally-relevant activities specific to your community.

Some campaigns can simply be promoting a collection of offers from your businesses - this should live on your website, can be printed and posted as flyers, perhaps even distributed as direct mail.

Other campaigns are more nuanced and may include a Bingo Card or 'itinerary' where merchants stamp, punch or sign that the customer visited their store.

You may go further in offering packages that include offerings from multiple merchants - a Valentine's Day package may be a discounted bundle that includes dinner, a couples massage, flowers, chocolates etc.

Available Properties, Job Board & Volunteer Opportunities

Marketing is about more than just customers

Highlighting properties as a unique blog post gives you something you can share while you can then roll these posts up onto a single page of "available properties" with ease.

Your merchants and members are regularly hiring whether due to growth, turnover or seasonal needs while local nonprofits are always looking for great volunteers. You can feature job boards and volunteer opportunity boards to add value to your community - like many things you can do to support your merchants these self-updating boards can be run automatically in Locable.

Create a Community Marketplace

An 'online farmers market' is a concept that would benefit most communities and interest in this approach has grown tremendously due to COVID. 

The trick is that your merchants probably won't update their product information with you so we give them free tools to sell online then our Mercantile™ collaborative marketplace feature pulls in products from any merchants you want to include and keeps their information current automatically.

This can be as simple as a #BuyLocalWarBonds gift card campaign.

A maintenance-free online marketplace is the key to sustainability.

Community Interest Articles

Let's face it, where you live matters to you - and it should. Why not highlight another local cause you support, a recent project that highlights your community, or a business that has impacted you?

This makes you look good - it's ok to make yourself look good - and it shines a light on a local organization you care about in real life.

Go further by highlighting Local Connections™ and feature local events in a community calendar, we have an app for that ;)

Get the Most Out of Your Content and Marketing Efforts

Don't forget that the blog lives on your website and follow our suggested approach to post and distribute content online

Would you like to add resources for local businesses to your website? We provide them free of charge to help your merchants get started or go further with their marketing to attract more customers, improving hiring & retention, and positively impact your community.

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