As ProWholesaler went to press with its final edition of 2007, members of the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) were finalising the outline of the My Shop Is Your Shop programme for 2008.
Looking back on the old year, PRAG learned a lot of lessons – negatives and positives – which will help it to deliver more ideas and more guidance for wholesalers and independent c-stores, newsagents and rural shops in 2008.
Generic activity such as MSYS never fails to take its time to filter down through the supplier/wholesale network to reach the retailer. But PRAG believes that there is enough evidence to prove that there is sufficient awareness of the campaign – and its objectives – among suppliers, wholesalers and retailers to make 2008 a Big year.
More suppliers are committing to support MSYS than ever before in various ways. Their support will be detailed in January but as I write there are discussions going on for special packs, more jackets-off input at retail level and specific use of promotions already in the pipeline to give MSYS more profile.
More retailers than ever requested the special in-store theatre packs of the iconic yellow T-shirts, caps, stickers and balloons for National Independents’ Week – which begins on June 2 – revealing a thirst for participation.
One lesson emerging from this year centres on the first-ever street parties inspired by MSYS and hosted by independents throughout the country. More parties or outdoor events were held during NIW than the organisers were aware it has transpired.
Lots of help to help these parties succeed was provided on an ad hoc basis by wholesalers and supportive suppliers – free stock, samples, people to help, tastings, mascots, promotional items. So next year the updated protocol published to guide retailers into putting on a street party will be available on the campaign website in January – and wholesalers and suppliers will be encouraged to formalise their help and plan it with retailers earlier rather than later.
These street parties – a MSYS exclusive – are a tangible link between the retailer and the community. Customers love them. The link they demonstrate cannot be replicated by the giant multiple retailers, as successful as they are, and as hard as they strive to play a community card.
The NIW street party captures everything that is good and unique about the family business in the local community – it’s a simple statement of involvement and local connection.
They put into sharp relief the interface of the man or woman who runs their own Features > Business, living with their family in the community, responding to consumer demand from that neighbourhood and experiencing the ups and downs of local life, which forms the basis of MSYS.
By moving from one day of celebration to a week, PRAG has been given a broader stage on which it can create ideas and platforms for retailers to connect with local consumers and local media.
Ditching the initial strategy of seeking national media coverage for MSYS and NIW proved a success. Resource is now focused on regional and local press, TV and radio – MSYS is a local happening involving local retailers and local people.
More emphasis on helping independents to strengthen their links with local media will come in 2008. It’s not rocket science and sophisticates may question the issue but it’s still true that most local shops remain unaware of the potential publicity they can achieve by getting their community activities reported in the local press.
MSYS is the only positive marketing and public relations support programme reminding the consumer of the value of the local independent and inspiring the retailer to maximise their community involvement as a footfall driver.
The lifeblood of the activity stems from recognition of its objectives by suppliers and wholesalers – it is not an anti-Tesco campaign – as a positive programme which will only be as good as the creative platforms it provides.
In 2008 there’s lots to come.
=== RETURN OF THE DEPOT CHAMPIONS – AND MORE ===
The MSYS programme for 2008, now being finalised, will include:
l Intensified efforts to get June 2 in suppliers’, wholesalers’ and retailers’ diaries as the start of National Independents’ Week.
l More MSYS Champions in cash and carry depots briefing customers on the benefits of involvement in community activities or helping local folk as a trading benefit.
l One day devoted to a friendly focus – a cup of tea for customers – look out for the big news on this.
l One day devoted to walkability. Ditch the car to Walk Shop. It reduces carbon emissions and it’s better for you.
l More street parties – help retailers to plan them now. Watch out for the updated street party protocol on the campaign website [http://www.myshopisyourshop.co.uk]
l More suppliers involved in special promotions and helping to promote the campaign. Wholesalers will be briefed earlier when suppliers complete their planning.
l More help for retailers to understand the value of regional and local media and how to grasp media opportunities.