The Crunch: The “buy local” movement has gained traction over the last decade, but consumers still need incentives to spend money within the community. In Southwest Colorado, BCI Media Services gives local SMBs multiple channels, including the Durango Coupons site, to advertise the discounts and deals that draw customers and keep money in the local economy. BCI Media shares the historic Southwest Colorado community’s deep commitment to buying local. In addition to online and print advertising channels, the company also offers consulting services to help businesses build marketing and advertising strategies that increasingly focus on a social media presence. No matter how retailers reach potential customers, BCI Media says the most important factor in advertising remains the same: The deal has to be good.
The right discount or offer can make the difference between gaining a long-term customer or losing out to the competition.
In Durango, Colorado, the Durango Coupons website provides local businesses with an effective avenue to advertise deals that attract customers and keep money in the local economy.
The site is a treasure trove of coupons, offers, and discount vouchers from local businesses in and around the historic Colorado city known for its rugged, mountainous beauty, archeological sites, and skiing.
“Like many communities that have a larger metro area nearby, it is a challenge to keep people shopping locally instead of taking their money out of the market,” said Jeff Herr, the VP of Digital at BCI Media Services, the digital media marketing company that operates Durango Coupons. “Coupons are really the keys to success for our local small-business clients. We enable that type of engagement with consumers.”
Durango Coupons is just one of multiple channels that BCI Media Services and parent company, Ballantine Communications, have available for local businesses to advertise to residents and the large number of tourists the Durango area attracts.
Over the last decade, Ballantine has strategically increased its digital marketing and advertising channels. The company established the website Tellzea.com as a platform to help inexperienced local merchants to start digital advertising campaigns. It also launched the video network 4CornersTV.com to foster engagement with online consumers.
BCI Media staff works with businesses to develop advertising and marketing strategies that use print, online, social media and, in some cases, text messaging. Jeff said that their consultative role includes helping businesses overcome unexpected challenges.
“There are always external challenges businesses encounter,” Jeff said. “For instance, this winter we had very little snowfall, and we worked with a local ski area to put together a deal on lift tickets. If you make the price attractive enough, you can overcome challenges like bad weather or, for other businesses, competition from big-box stores.”
A Company Committed to Helping the Buy Local Movement
Jeff previously worked in San Francisco, and, because he was living in such a large metropolitan area, he didn’t feel much pressure to patronize local businesses.
“I didn’t care if I bought anything local. I would go online and shop. If I could find a discount deal, then I would shop locally,” he said.
In Durango, a city of about 18,000 people in a county with a population under 60,000, Jeff found a more tight-knit business community that put a priority on buying local.
“Being here now, I realize how important it is to keep consumers shopping locally whenever possible,” he said. “We all live here together, and dollars that leave the market are dollars that leave the pockets of the people who live here. So, we’re all very sensitive about shopping locally when we can. Couponing helps make that stick.”
The local shopping campaign in Durango includes Local First, a non-profit organization of some 200 member businesses that advocates for the support of local stores, restaurants, and artists. That organization says that nearly half of every $100 spent at a locally owned business circulates back into the local economy. By comparison, less than 15 percent of the money spent at chain stores stays local. Local First also points out that local businesses typically offer better service because employees get to know their customers. Spending locally also creates more local jobs.
In addition to supporting Local First, Ballantine Communications promotes local businesses with the Durango Coupons site. Deals may come from local landscaping and roofing companies, a garden center, or a dog daycare and grooming business.
Site visitors can print coupons or redeem them on a mobile device, and discount vouchers for local businesses are also sold through the site.
Customize Advertising and Marketing Strategies for Target Audiences
Different businesses have their own unique target audiences. For that reason, BCI Media Services staff works with them to craft the right deal and advertising message to deliver through the most effective channel. That consultative role is important for time-pressed small business owners.
“Local business owners and operators are working the equivalent of two to three full-time jobs at once. It’s hard for them to get the time to think about how they will engage consumers and drive foot traffic through the door,” Jeff said. “So we have a very intense relationship between our sales team and those business owners and managers. We try to understand what they are trying to accomplish.”
BCI Media Services also offers businesses customized solutions for search engine optimization, digital marketing, social media management, website development, content marketing, blogging, and email marketing.
The overall results for clients include a 171% increase in Facebook post reach, a 46% increase in Facebook page likes, an average of 4,000 click-throughs to client websites from the Google My Business page, and a 1,000% increase in PowerListings views.
Taos Mesa Brewing in Taos, New Mexico, used BCI Media Services for a concert event advertising campaign on Facebook that focused on 21- to 35-year-olds from outside the Taos area. Thousands of Facebook users in the targeted demographic group interacted with the ad, and Taos Brewing saw an increase in younger concert attendees from outside the area.
Better Deals Mean Better Chances to Attract New Customers
The better a deal is — whether advertised in print, online, or on social media — the greater the chances of attracting new customers who will stick around.
“The most important factor of all is the quality of the deal — and 10% off or 15% off doesn’t cut it anymore. We strongly encourage getting to 50% off or buy one, get one free,” Jeff said. “Because if it’s not a good offer, nobody will redeem it. It’s just not worth the trouble. If it costs you $3 to get somebody to come in for the first time, get acquainted with the business, and meet the people who work there, that’s money well spent.”
“In markets like ours where there’s a significant tourism base, there are people who come into town from Houston, Phoenix, or Las Vegas. A coupon can let a local business reach people who know nothing about them. It’s important to have online and print offers.” — Jeff Herr, VP of Digital at BCI Media Services
In addition to attracting locals who may become loyal customers, a good coupon or discount deal can also help draw out-of-towners who may not otherwise visit a restaurant or shop.
“In markets like ours where there’s a significant tourism base, there are people who come into town from Houston, Phoenix, or Las Vegas,” Jeff said. “A coupon can let a local business reach people who know nothing about them. It’s important to have online and print offers.”
Durango Coupons and BCI Media Help SMBs Stay Ahead of Trends
Durango Coupons and BCI Media spend time working with local SMBs to craft attractive deals and place them in the most effective channels. Those channels can include print or online advertising, the Durango Coupons site, high-quality regional magazines, and print and online phone directories. The most important thing, Jeff said, is getting customers through the door.
“When done right, a couponing strategy can help a new business get off the ground, help an existing business engage new clients, or even bring back customers who’ve come in the past but may have forgotten about you,” Jeff said. The way customers engage businesses and look for deals has evolved with technology, and BCI Media Services helps its clients stay ahead of the emerging trends in advertising.
Today, social media is a growing platform that BCI helps small businesses use more effectively.
“We help local businesses leverage social media to get their offers out to targeted audiences,” Jeff said. “You can draw a circle around a particular part of the county and send special offers to the people that live there. But no matter what platform, the key is to distribute deals to the right consumers at the right time.”