USE THEM OR LOSE THEM - THE AWARD WINNING CAMPAIGN IN ILMINSTER IS A WINNER
PUBLISHED: 12:53 30 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:54 20 February 2013
The economic climate is making it difficult for many small businesses at the moment and we all have to realize that we need to use our small shops because if we do not they will disappear
The economic climate is making it difficult for many small businesses at the moment and we all have to realize that we need to use our small shops because if we do not they will disappear. It is a plight that Mary Portas highlighted in a recent television series and she was right to make the point.
As part of a response to this plight the Ilminster First Tuesday Campaign was born. It is now approaching its second anniversary and has been a real bonus for the town and many of the residents in the surrounding area.
The campaign was initially begun to try and encourage shoppers and visitors into the town on what is usually a rather quiet time the first Tuesday of the month. A number of businesses decided to try to work together to organize a campaign to raise their profiles and that of the town and make it a regular occurrence to shop there.
They decided that a regular monthly prize draw would also help attract customers and this was put into place. The prize draw is free and only requires people to use the services of the shops that are part of the campaign.
There are many businesses who participate from shops to insurance companies, cafes to conference centres, opticians to hotels. They all fly their balloons and put up their posters on the First Tuesday of the month to show that they are part of the campaign and that people will have a chance of winning a prize if they join in.
The prizes vary from month to month - 100 vouchers for use in the shops are regularly offered but many of the shops also arrange prizes always to the value of 100 or more. In the past year there has been the opportunity for four to take Tea with Toby Buckand at the Monks Yard, a pampering session at the Wellbeing Day Spa, specialist Hair Irons provided by Mark Hebron, a delightful Dolls House and family from the Amazing Dolls House & Toy Shop and a basket of goodies from Bonners just before Christmas.
It is interesting to note that many of the prize winners come from quite a large area. It shows that Ilminster is attracting people from quite a distance. When asked what they like about the town the overwhelming response is that they love the personal service that they get from the small shops, that the staff are very friendly and that they love the variety of individual shops that can be found in Ilminster.
One of the other aims of the prize draw was to enable the campaign to build up a database that it could use as a marketing tool. When customers fill in the draw card they are asked to supply their e-mail address so that they can be sent a regular monthly e-mail, just before each First Tuesday. This will alert them to special offers being run by a number of the businesses and also exclusive discounts for First Tuesday customers often in the form of a voucher which is printed and taken to the shop. This has built up over the last few months and businesses are really beginning to see the benefits.
The other reason that the campaign is important is that it also highlights the real sense of community in the town. Market towns really have to work together to achieve - and both customers and businesses benefit from a campaign like this. Indeed a number of other market towns have made inquiries about the First Tuesday campaign as they are considering running similar operations in their own areas.
We hope that if you were not aware of the Ilminster First Tuesday Campaign you are now and that you will try and visit Ilminster to see what it is all about and to sample the delights of the shops and what they have to offer. Go on, you might be amazed!
If you would like to have the chance of winning our monthly prize draw just make sure that you pop along to Ilminster on the first Tuesday of any month and shop in one of the businesses in the town. We look forward to seeing you watch out in the press to see what the next prize will be.
Check out the website www.ilminsterfirsttuesday.co.uk for more information on the many special offers that are available throughout the town.