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Putting together your own Buy Local campaign

In many ways, developing a successful “Buy Local” campaign in your community is no different from building a new revenue stream or setting up a new division for your dealership. And if you’ve ever done something like that before—opened a new furniture showroom, taken on a new product line such as jan-san or ad specialties or set up a sales office in a new market, for example—you’ll already have a good idea of what it will take to have an impact.

Planning, of course, is critical. No doubt you will learn much as your campaign gets underway, but without an initial road map, chances are you won’t get very far. At a minimum, your plan should include the following:

A list of local resources

Other small business owners in your community who share your belief in the importance of “Buy Local” who might form the nucleus of an initial task force to start work.

Local business groups that might be receptive to the idea of supporting your efforts such as your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, or local business development organization.

Local media such your hometown newspaper and TV and radio stations who could provide publicity for the effort. Don’t forget to include any community-focused web sites operated in your market area.

A list of national resources

Check out the list of national and local “Buy Local” organizations elsewhere on this web site. You’ll find a wealth of ideas and inspiration and most of them will be more than happy to discuss their own experiences and offer suggestions on how to get your own effort off the ground.

Ways to get the message out

  • A “Buy Local” logo and slogan for your community
  • Print ads and mailers
  • Billboards
  • Web site copy
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Letters to customers
  • Letters to local newspapers, guest editorials, etc.

As big box retailing has grown and as more and more research has been published on its often negative impact on local communities, “Buy Local” has gained increasing traction as an issue of concern for Main Street America. There is no shortage of resources you can use to take a compelling “Buy Local” message to the marketplace. Probably the most important factor for success is probably the most intangible. Most successful business ventures of any kind usually have a champion who spearheaded the effort and was willing to go the extra mile. Your “Buy Local” program will be no different.

In the words of one dealer who helped organize a successful campaign in his own hometown, “You need fire in your belly to get it started and get people committed to spreading the word. It started slow with us, but once we got two or three more local business owners on board and committed, it really started to take off.”

Key local decision makers

Elected officials like your Mayor, City Council members, School Boards and other local politicians.

Local government buyers and decision-makers at the city, county and state level. One of your key arguments will be that buying local helps generate more tax dollars to fund local government programs. For that reason alone, you have every reason to expect a positive response to your “Buy Local” message from local government buyers. If that isn’t the case, you have a ready-made rallying point for your program.

Local schools and community colleges. Fundamentally, your “Buy Local” program is about educating customers and prospects on the true impact of their buying decisions. Students themselves may not be big spenders when it comes to office products, but their parents and other family members might well be.

Develop your message

The multiplier effect of re-circulating local dollars by buying locally.

Where the money goes when you buy from a big box instead of from a locally owned and operated business.

The negative impact on communities of big box retailing and the research that shows big boxes cost more than they generate in terms of local tax revenues, do not create more jobs and have a negative impact on poverty rates in the communities where they operate.