Mainstreets as cultural icons

If you needed any evidence that the public love and are concerned about their local mainstreets, this is it. The Yarra Ranges Regional Museum is hosting a series of ‘pop up museums’ around the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

The theme of the pop-up museum is small business and retail in local main streets. The exhibition will ask, what are we proud of in our main streets, past and present, how have they changed and what will they look like in the future?

As well as showcasing museum displays, the pop-up museum is a place to share community knowledge about our main streets. Main streets bring people together, and the museum wants to hear the stories about this has happened, does happened nad how this is changing.

According to the Musem’s Curator of Public Programs, Megan Sheehy, Yarra Ranges Regional Museum wants to capture the unique stories of small business owners, and businesses which contribute to the unique character of our townships.

“They (retail precincts) have and will continue to change rapidly, so we are hoping to present some historical perspective on this. Interestingly, most of the influences of change have been quite predictable – boom and bust of different industries, different modes of transport over time and the expansion of suburbia into more rural areas. Still, we are finding some interesting stories.’

The pop up museums hope to seek stories and material to loan for a major new exhibition about changing main streets in Yarra Ranges. The exhibition will run from 9th November 2013 until the 2nd March 2014 at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, Lilydale. Can’t wait.


The benefits of togetherness

There’s a corporate team building activity that focuses on a bushfire scenario. Participants are asked what items/tasks are important to save the house and to put them in order of use, individually. Individuals then join a group and compile a group list. Lots of learnings about negotiation and agreement occur, BUT, when the correct answer is revealed, it shows that the group answers tend to be right, and the individual answers are not as accurate.

Together, we achieve more. Last week in Buffalo NY, USA, BALLE, the organisation setting up business groups who promote local economies, held a conference.

A key theme was prosperity for all. How can we work together to create the sort of communities we are want to live in, and that are economically sustainable? Watch the video here. It sounds awesome (and a bit like new, grown up hippyism!) but there is compelling evidence behind working together to create better business, better communities and better outcomes, as the host city itself shows:

A few short years ago the city was struggling. Long standing area manufacturers had turned their gaze globally and simply abandoned the city. In an instant, Buffalo went from having one of the highest factory wages in the country to being one of country’s poorest cities.

Enter a small group of residents and neighbors who decided to dig-in and address local needs with their own solutions. Seemingly overnight organizations took action—organizations like Grassroots Gardens, the Partnership for the Public Good, PUSH Buffalo, the Coalition for Economic Justice, the Clean Air Coalition, GO Bike Buffalo, and Buffalo Carshare and the city simply hasn’t been the same—in fact it is in the midst of a Localist renaissance. An article in The Economist recently declared Buffalo, officially, “back in business” and it is undeniable that localists played a key role in the city’s rebirth. In 2006 the BALLE network, Buffalo First, began raising awareness about turning inward to overcome local economic challenges.

Buffalo First used localism to fix a broken economy—they focused on strengthening the locally-owned businesses that made Buffalo great in the first place. They launched a “Think Local First” campaign encouraging people to grow and buy local produce, to support local independent businesses and artisans, and to seek out socially responsible businesses. This message resonated with folks so much that, at times, is was nearly impossible to drive down a Main Street without seeing Buffalo First’s signature blue and white “Buy Local” poster in a shop window. Buffalo gets Localism.

Want to tell us about your ‘Buy Local’ campaign? Or do you have a great local business group that’s kicking goals? Send us your story.

And to start a ‘Buy Local’ campaign? We can help. Contact us for more information on how we might be able to assist.

fun ways to engage your messages

Envisioning a whole lot of fun

If you’ve been reading thelocalexperience for awhile, you’ll know that we advocate for play. Having fun is a great way to learn and emotionally connect with what you are doing. So it makes a useful tool for businesses to use to engage their customers in their messages.

So I was thrilled to hear a fabulous speech from Jenny Grey, CEO of Zoos Victoria the other day talk about the lessons about life and leadership that visiting a Zoo teaches us. Zoos need to be fun, engaging places to learn – and to survive financially they need people to not just visit, but take an active interest in what they are doing.

Zoos Victoria has undergone a massive transformation from a caged animal attraction to achieving its vision ‘to be the world’s leading zoo-based conservation organisation.’ Jenny says having a strong vision is critical to any business.

‘We have understood that we have key competencies that are valuable in fighting the loss of species. Our promise of “Fighting Extinction” is galvanizing our conservation work.

  • Captive breeding and care of threatened species.

  • Inspiring 1.89m visitors to take action.

  • Advocacy for wild life and wild places.’


They have set a big goal, based on where their strengths lie and realigning everything they do to achieve it. It’s a big task, but possible in all businesses. Jenny’s advice for achieving a new vision:

To make a Vision live in an organization I would advise:

  • Encourage full participation.

  • Talk about it to every-one, all the time.

  • Start implementing immediately.

  • Focus on committed implementation.

  • Start at a high level but get into the detail.

  • Rigid, flexibility.

  • Get the basics right.


What’s your business vision, or precinct vision? Is it big enough? Is it fun, engaging and something people can believe in?

If you need help, we still have a few places for our end of financial year sale. Book a 2 hour review of your marketing plan before June 30 and pay only $100 (normally $250). Email us for details.

Thanks so much to Jenny Grey for sharing her wisdom and enthusiasm for what she does. Having a dynamic vision and making it fun to associate with your business is a winning combination (note: fun doesn’t have to mean frivilous, in the Zoo’s case, it’s a serious message with fun ways to engage in the story of it).

Tell us about your vision and how you are making it fun in the comments below.

Engagement is the new marketing

Did anyone catch the conversations on Q&A last night? The interesting thing to me was that there were 2 guests on the panel from North America. When the discussion about indigenous culture came up, they had an interesting outsiders perspective. Basically, they thought Australian indigenous culture was fascinating and that there were opportunities, instead of being afraid to offend people, to embrace some aspects of the culture and make it inclusive and interesting.

Maybe it’s a stretch but I see the same needs to be done in places. Embrace new ideas, new ways of doing things. It can be really difficult when you are immersed in the issues to see from an outside perspective. But connecting and engaging with others is key to building supporters.

There was an interesting perspective on the new marketing models for retailers and how to create that engagement on the

Connections: The key here is plural. Consumers expect to connect with brands anytime, anywhere … especially on their smartphones. In an omni-channel world, retailers have to expect to connect very early in the consumer journey, when they first start researching online. And, they expect to continue that connection in store.

Choice: Today’s consumers are not limited by what they can find in a store, or even the goods they find in their own country. They expect the ability to shop a wide array of products. Consequently, store-based retailers must connect their virtual shelf to the store shelf. In fact, store-based purchases may include as many virtual shelf items as items chosen from the shelf. This will indeed require not only rethinking assortments, but technology to enable “seamless” shopping.

Convenience: This “C” is closely related to Choice. Consumers are increasingly looking for convenience of how they purchase, but also where they choose to receive their goods. Today’s time-starved consumers are expecting the convenience of shopping online or in store, but also the convenience of ship to home, pickup in store, or even pickup at a locker in another convenience location.

Conversation: If there’s one thing about today’s consumer … they are social! Consumers are more than likely to begin their journey on social media looking for conversation, and most importantly look for recommendations. But, it goes beyond search. Consumers are looking for conversation and connection with brands they value. Biggest miss of today’s retail stores is continuing the conversation AFTER the initial sale. Again, technology becomes a key. CRM will not only be the lifeline of continuing the conversation, but also the connecting the consumer value experience to creating relationships based upon lifetime value.

Recently, an Australian study confirmed that while most marketers understand the need to create better customer engagement, they are still focusing on mass market campaigns.

The study was conducted by Econsultancy, in association with marketing cloud software company, Responsys. It found that almost all respondents believe customer engagement is important to their company. Despite this, almost half centre their marketing activity on sending campaigns, rather than supporting the customer journey.

President of Responsys Asia Pacific, Paul Cross, says of the results, “It’s clear that customer engagement is fundamental to successful marketing, yet far too many marketers are still focusing on campaigns, rather than driving smarter marketing interactions that lead to better experiences and lasting relationships with their customers.

“Australian marketers see that they’ve got to move away from the campaign focus – like the campaign calendar focus of marketing – into a programmatic, individualised customer focus. I think clearly they all agree with that; the challenge over the next years is executing it,” he says.

So the question is, can you take a fresh ‘outsiders’ perspective on your business and see where and how you can create opportunities to engage with your audience.


For those not signed up to our enews, you would have missed you special EOFY offer. Book before June 30 to receive a 2 hour review of your marketing plan and recommendations for only $100. So get those questions about customer engagement and creating great experiences ready and let’s meet up.