Coalition Members Share Tips for Creating Events that Engage Consumers in Supporting Indies

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On Tuesday, AIB’s member organizations participated in a collaborative webinar to share strategies for creating dynamic consumer events and campaigns that build support for independent businesses.

  • Eric Levin of the Alliance for Independent Media Stores provided details about Record Store Day, which has become a global phenomenon that brings tens of thousands of people into independent record stores. “One way we’re measuring success is the volume of sales at record stores and the resurgence of vinyl sales,” Levin noted.  He added that on Back to Black Friday, a spin-off of Record Store Day, many stores saw double-digit sales increases.
  • Kathleen McHugh, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, discussed ASTRA’s approach to Neighborhood Toy Store Day, which is held in mid-November. “The key for us is to keep it simple, allowing each store to do Neighborhood Toy Store Day in their own way,” she said.  This year, dozens of popular “mommy bloggers” blogged about the event and the value of local toy stores, propelling increased traffic and sales. ASTRA helped its members capitalize on the online visibility with a suite of social media graphics.
  • Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, shared results from Indies First, which was held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Spearheaded by Sherman Alexie, the event involved hundreds of authors working at independent bookstores, helping customers and offering their own recommendations. “Many local media outlets looking to do Small Business Saturday stories came to bookstores as a result of this event,” said Teicher.
  • Jeff Milchen, co-director of the American Independent Business Alliance, provided an overview of Independents Week, held in dozens of communities the week of July 4th, and shared the collateral AMIBA makes available for any community or local business group to use. Independents Week offers an opportunity for independent businesses across multiple industries to participate in a joint local campaign.
  • Parker Karnan, executive director of the Independent Running Retailers Association, described the impact of National Running Safety Month, which, he said, “has helped our members establish their stores as the community hub for both running and health awareness.”  IRRA supplies collateral and markets the event through national advertising, as well as through its members’ newsletters, which reach over 2 million runne
  • Jay Karen, president of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International, shared the thinking behind A Better Way to Stay, which the group launched after research found that people often overlook B&Bs when booking travel.  “Humor has been a key feature of our approach,” he said.  As part of the campaign, PAII produced a series of funny online videos that poke fun at big hotels and dispel misconceptions about B&Bs.
  • Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association, shared details about The Bike Shop Advantage.  The focus of the campaign, he said, is on entry-level bicycle buyers, who may not know the difference between an independent bike shop and a mass merchandiser.  The Bike Shop Advantage helps member stores differentiate themselves and communicate the advantages of choosing an independent.

After the presentations, call participants discussed the nuts-and-bolts of these campaigns and how to measure their impact, and strategized about ways that they could work together to promote one another’s events.

AIB webinars are open to independent business groups that are not yet members of the coalition.  to learn more about future webinars.