When Deb and I started working on helping towns to restart local shopping, we knew the usual “shop local” campaigns weren’t going to work this time.
We decided to outline how shop local campaigns used to happen.
The old way was for a chamber of commerce or other organization to take the lead. They’d pick A FEW of the usual people to get together in a meeting room in ISOLATION from anyone not on the committee. They DECIDE everything about this new shop local campaign that’s going to apply to everyone. It has to be one-size-fits-all, because the committee knows they have to please every business in town. They end up watering down any radical ideas so no one will object. All that planning takes a long time! They wait to announce it until they have it completely planned out, and by then it’s CLOSED to any real changes. Of course it’s a BIG project that is planned to last all year. If it FAILS, it’s public and awful. The focus is a preachy message that insists “Save our stores, buy local!”
That’s the Old Way.
Then we outlined the Idea Friendly way.
It’s not top down. It’s bottom up. A CROWD of people choose to come together around a shared goal: to make our community more resilient in the face of this disaster and future changes. Together, they TRY and TEST lots of different ideas in SMALL WAYS. It might work, or might not. Because each test is small, then FAILURE is valuable feedback on what works and what doesn’t. The whole project is more short term, with lots of options, lots of ways for different people to be involved at different levels. There are small but meaningful steps for everyone to take part in: shoppers, business owners and you. The focus is EXPERIENCES that make people want to shop here because it’s part of who we are as a community. Merchants want to play along because they’re seeing success from these small steps and are excited to belong to this active Idea Friendly group of people.
It’s really tempting to fall back on the comfortable way we’ve already done things. I think our current challenge is too different to keep trying the old way harder.
Keep shaping the future of your town,
PS – You’re already seeing preachy “Save our stores, shop local!” messages. If you want some help to try the Idea Friendly approach, look into our video Restarting Local Shopping