Drive more traffic to your store today.

A couple months ago, as we worked toward the launch of Get It Local Today, it was no surprise that shopping locally was on the top of my mind. I would encourage you to spend a little time searching the internet for “shop local” stories. I think you’d be encouraged by how many different articles and initiatives there are regarding shopping locally. It might be wishful thinking, but it sure feels like shopping local is becoming a bigger deal than the past few years.

So, let’s talk about a few things you can do to make sure you’re taking advantage of any shop local momentum in your area—or, better yet, how you can create momentum.

REACH OUT TO CHURCHES

Congregations will shift, pastors will come and go, but the body of the church will never go away. And you are perfectly positioned as the local resource to feed and nurture the local believers. Whether they’re thriving, grieving, celebrating, or just getting started, you have what they need.

What’s your strategy to reach them? Are you contacting one church a week? Are you sending catalogs to remind them you’re still around? Do you host a pastor’s breakfast to thank them for their service? There are so many ways to connect with them. And none of them are wrong, as long as you’re doing something.

ATTEND COMMUNITY EXPOS

Are you at local business fairs? If your community hosts one, make sure you have a presence. Maybe it’s not a full booth. Maybe you just take out an ad in the flyer. Keep in mind that the attendees at those events look through everything, because a participating business typically will hold a contest or giveaway. And just by being in their brochure, you’ll get exposure.

Have you sponsored anything recently? I bet you have youth groups going on mission trips during Christmas and Easter break. Or a local chapter of CRU that would love to have snacks provided for one of their meetings. What about buying a banner at the local minor-league baseball field? Or helping fund a local 4-H group who wants to attend a competition?

It’s fair to point out that not every one of these would work for you. Each community is different and has varying opportunities, but you know what’s important to those around you. You can find ways to make yourself known, and then position yourself in front of your customers (and potential customers).

I’m also very aware that these ideas have hard costs associated with them. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find free advertising these days. But you also have a line item for marketing in your store budget. And if you don’t, you need to create one. Anywhere from 3 to 5 percent is a good place to start for marketing. I’ve seen stores as high as 9 percent, depending on their situation. Out of that marketing budget, a portion should be set aside for outreach and new customer acquisition.

SIGN UP

One more thing: If you’re not already signed up for Get It Local Today, you should do so immediately. Publishers want to send traffic to your store. Their websites and emails will link directly to the Get It Local Today site where consumers will be able to see how many copies of a title are sitting on your shelf. The customer can then reserve it to pick up in your store. This industrywide initiative is one of the easiest things you can do today to put yourself in front of more customers. And it’s free. Enrolling will only take a 10 minutes.

Get more information and enroll your store in Get It Local Today at cbaonline.org/get-local-today/.

—Erik Ernstrom