Are Incentives a Drawcard or Something More?
The chance to win something (anything!) is always appealing. But you might be surprised to know that winning is rarely a strong enough drawcard to change people’s buying habits for any real length of time. So why are incentives often central parts of Go Local campaigns; just like the one running in Clunes now? The simple answer is they are a hook.
A Good Hook
$100 worth of local vouchers each week, and a cash prize of $200 at the end of each month running til the end of January is worth writing home about – for a bunch of reasons.
· It’s supporting local businesses; with vouchers you can use in town.
· If a winner is a visitor, it’s an excuse for them to come back.
· The cash prize is just a bonus. Who wins $200 cash these days? Not many people so the prize has meaning.
· Not having many restrictions on entries is also important. You aren’t limited to how often you can shop in town. Every cent is rewarded if you want to take the time to write your name and telephone number on the back of that receipt or form and pop it in the box.
Most importantly though, it’s the thinking behind the incentive that is worth talking about, especially with community led campaigns like Go Local Clunes.
Why a 3-month incentive?
November, December, and January are tricky months in small communities. Local sales and visitor numbers are hard to predict so it’s a good time to run a promotion to encourage existing customers to keep shopping locally. Public holidays mean penalty rates, weather is uncertain, suppliers are shut down for holidays, staff want leave… you name it, it’s not as straightforward to run a small business in a country town as customers might think. So, a visible promotion (posters, billboard and incentive boxes) that doesn’t require businesses to do too much is handy. But once that incentive has been there for a while, it becomes part of the scenery. So adding additional promotions to the mix, particularly in January once the impact of traditional holidays is eased, is wise.
Go Local Clunes
In Clunes ramping up Go Local promotions is more grassroots than big business. For lots of towns like us, that is just a reality of the budget’s towns have to work with, and the resources available to them. But that has its own advantages. Working with what you’ve got often means working together, and in Clunes, that is an aspect of this project that we are only just beginning to fully appreciate.
In our tiny town, we’ve got 26 local businesses across multiple industries (not just retail) working with us. That’s huge! The incentive campaign helped us link with the businesses and gives us a reason to pop in and see them each week as we collect the receipts, but it’s also given us a chance to talk. To talk about other ways we could collaborate, to unpick what is working and what is not, to see how businesses are tracking and if they’d like to participate in other elements of the Go Local campaign. Whether it’s accessing in-store event funding, coming to social media training or having content packages developed for them.
But they are a conversation for another day, because if there is anything we are learning as we roll out this project, it’s that Clunes has got a lot to talk about!
This project is a great example of community and businesses working together to help us all thrive. The funding provided by the Victorian State Government to support the Clunes Go Local project was highly competitive, but we believe that our town's demonstrated ability to work together helped position us well and is one of the reasons why so many businesses have signed up to be involved. Sharing our thinking and learning as we roll the project out is an important part of our ongoing growth.