"Buy Local" Marketing Programs to Help You Find Customers

  •    TJ runs Refine Digital, a content marketing firm that helps technology executives share their expertise.

Small Business Saturday is one of the best known “buy local" marketing initiatives, meant to counter the Big Box Retail phenomenon known as Black Friday. The good news is that “buy local" type programs happen all around the country, all through the year.

According to the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), independent businesses in communities with a long-term “buy local and independent campaign" reported average revenue growth of 7.4 percent, nearly double the 4.2 percent increase for independent businesses not served by such efforts. Here is a list of resources for you to consider and either join or build upon.

Buy Local, Made Local Programs and Initiatives You Can Join

  • AMIBA (cited above) offers some of the best resources to help cities and businesses create “Buy Local" campaigns. In the U.S., Independents Week is an annual campaign that covers the week of July 4.

  • Bellingham, Washington's Sustainable Connections is a great example of a “Think Local" focus. The Think Local First Campaign makes it easy to find what you need locally and give back to the community.

  • Oakland, California started what is known as “Plaid Friday" and other cities coordinate their own Plaid Fridays. The community wear plaid the raise awareness for the creativity of independent businesses.

  • SFMade is another well-known West coast program in San Francisco that launched to help with the city's boom in urban manufacturing. There are similar ones in Seattle and Portland (Oregon) helping connect small businesses with local manufactures.

  • The Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA) has a quick and thorough local branding resource page with a downloadable Toolkit and webinars you can watch. Their focus is on small manufacturers, but the ideas hold true across a wide spectrum of business types.

  • This guide from an Orlando, Florida "Buy Local" effort is worth a read if you are considering helping your city start a program: How to Implement a Buy Local Program. Here you can find research on how to implement and measure a successful by local program in your own community.

  • Well-known blogger, Becky McCray, has a wide range of useful resources on her Small Biz Survival site that includes a Shop Local ebook.

If you wonder if your city or area offers a buy local program, simply search for your city name and the various terms these initiatives often appear under:

  • Buy Local [+ City, County, State, or Region Name]

  • Made Local

  • Shop Local

  • Think Local

Now is always a good time to start marketing. "Buy Local, Made Local" programs and initiatives offer a foundation to help you find more customers in an era of big brand marketing budgets. Join one of the efforts in your area so that local businesses prosper all through the year.