What an amazing couple of months! What a vast amount of work has been done! What amazing support from so many wonderful contributors! What an achievement! That’s how I feel right now looking back on everything that’s happened since the announcement that I was to be the official UK partner for Independent Retailer Month… This blog will attempt to acknowledge and thank everyone involved and share my thoughts on looking ahead to 2012!
From appointment to UK partner to live & online in just 11 days!
Hard to believe it’s only 8 weeks yesterday, 2nd June, that the founders of Independent Retailer Month (Kerry Bannigan & Tom Shay) announced that I was to be their official UK Partner! Kelly Molson, Managing Director of Rubber Cheese design agency then quickly helped us create the fantastic logo and colour scheme which enabled us to bring the website and social media activities to life – all achieved in just 11 days, with the website launched on 13th June thanks to the implementation by Andrew Rayner of e-mphasis Internet Marketing.
28 guest bloggers planned for a wide range of business topics
The ensuing 2 weeks secured 28 guest bloggers (if you exclude mine, Kerry’s and Tom’s) – all contributing their time, thoughts, hints, tips, experiences, opinions and advice to support Independent Retailer Month.
In addition I personally was really putting in the hours on facebook and twitter to spread the word as much as possible!
A few things could have been better – we didn’t go viral 😦
I was hoping that the YouTube “I love this shop because…” was going to get loads of excited retailer posting messages and encouraging their customers to do the same. It didn’t quite go that way… camera shy lot that you are! All credit to Sarah Decent from Modish however who showcased her new shop in Cambridge and thus far is the only retailer proud enough (and not camera shy!) to share her video message – perhaps a few more will consider sharing some video feedback in the coming months – I’m not giving up on YouTube having been really inspired by the “it get’s better” project (look it up)!
UK Shops Directory… It helps to be married to a search marketing expert 🙂
I do have the benefit of co-owning my businesses with my husband, Andrew… Sometimes he has mad ideas (inventor-geek-genius that he is :-)) other times he has great ideas. Well, UK Shops directory was one of them! A page on http://www.independentretailermonth.co.uk where retailers can update their own outlet info, including any details of offers / events that they had planned for Independent Retailer Month. Not only did it provide a list of those involved but also a useful “backlink” (important ingredient in search marketing) to their own web pages too!
FREE online retail advice sessions via GoToTraining
In addition to all of the social media environments, promotions from supporters and general “noise” I was making, I felt I needed to do something more, proactively, to support the Independents out there. Having been on Declan Curry’s radio 5 live business show on Sunday 3rd July as the shows “Business Doctor” and having had feedback on Twitter that people would have valued more time, I decided to run my own “phone-ins”! For the 3 Monday’s from 11th – 25th July I ran FREE webinar sessions (call them “retail therapy”!), providing both structured and on-the-fly advice and support for retailers. The 8-10 indies who took part in the sessions certainly seemed to value them, which was very rewarding and has inspired me to provide more online sessions as part of my day to day retail mentoring programmes!
Press Coverage – Retail Gazette’s “Indie Retailer Month diary”
The online editor of Retail Gazette is a great supporter of Independent Retail so I was over the moon when he asked me to do a feature, every Friday in July, looking back at how the past week has been going, giving a plug for any Indie retailer who had inspired me and sharing some top-tips based on conversations I’d had with retailers during the prior week.
So far those who’ve had the “plug” include Ruth Jones of Seriously Sofas in Kingston, Deryane Tadd of The Dressing Room in St Albans, Michelle Watson of Birds Yard in Leeds, Sarah Decent of Modish Shoes in Cambridge, Natalie Peters of Amabo inLytham and Andrew Critchet of Fish& also in Leeds… I hope the mention draws the well deserved crowds to you!
So, how do I feel coming to the end of the first ever Independent Retailer Month UK?
Quite emotional. For those who know me, you’ll know what a shocker that statement is!
I’m blown away by the level of support that an unheard of campaign has had, the passion all the independents have for their businesses, the hard word and dedication that everyone has put into this to ensure we’ve reached as many as we can in the limited time that we’ve had.
I’m emotional that now it’s come to an end for 2011… I don’t want the momentum to stop – I really hope that we all keep the conversations going and keep the focus on the importance of independent retail in the wider retail mix and in the regeneration and reinvention of our high streets.
To sum up what I’ve learned from this experience: by working together we can maintain a focus on the unique value-add that Independent Retailers bring to the sector; to engage the support from relevant organisations and to secure the future of our communities and our high streets.
And looking ahead to 2012? What plans do I have for Independent Retailer Month UK in our Olympic year?
Lots 🙂 Including a really big surprise which I can’t share just yet no matter how much I want to – but I promise it’ll be great!!!!
I’d like to know what YOU think we should be planning for 2012 as well… because this campaign is for YOU after all!
That’s all I’ve got to say really – you’ve got a couple more fab blogs to follow before the end of the month, Kerry Bannigan’s, and, Ruth Jones from Seriously Sofa’s ends the month with the story of her incredible journey that culminates in her launching her retail business in just a few days time!