By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON – Organizers of the Shop it Here campaign are going high-tech in their efforts to boost the program's popularity.
As part of the newly revamped campaign, posters featuring QR codes will be placed at businesses throughout Mt. Vernon and Jefferson County.
Residents can then use their smartphones to scan the QR code. This will take them directly to a specially created website advertising unique offers at local businesses. A QR code is a type of barcode that can be read or scanned by certain devices.
“We put a lot of effort into making something that could provide value to both the businesses that take part in the Shop it Here program and consumers that are going to participate on the buying end of things,” said Nick Schrementi, principal agent at Beacon Insurance Group and co-organizer of the campaign. “It's a very cost-effective advertising campaign.”
Schrementi unveiled the new version of Shop it Here at the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce's monthly luncheon Thursday at NuBowl Lanes.
The new campaign will have a two-pronged approach. In addition to the QR code advertising, organizers plan to hold “cash mob” events at local businesses to draw large groups of shoppers there.
The hope is these new initiatives will spark more interest in Shop it Here, a Chamber program that seeks to promote the virtues of buying locally rather than outside the county lines.
“We want people shopping here in Mt. Vernon,” Schrementi said. “You shop here at a local business in Mt. Vernon, that money stays here. It supports local businesses, it supports employees, it supports tax dollars.”
Shop it Here has been active since 2009, but interest in it has been waning, Schrementi said.
“The old program has kind of lost its luster,” Schrementi said. “And it's just like anything else, you've got to keep it fresh.”
It will cost businesses $25 to be advertised using the QR code system. Participating businesses will promote special offers on the new website, which will be associated with the Chamber's site.
In addition, businesses will be able to have a link on the new site that takes users directly to that company's website. The QR code promotion will be advertised heavily using traditional and social media.
The cash mob portion of the campaign will be geared toward retail stores, restaurants, and bars. The goal is to get as many customers to the business at one time as possible.
A designated time for a cash mob event will be established. This event will then be heavily promoted and the participating business will have a special offer to help entice customers. It will cost businesses $75 to take part in a cash mob.
But even with all these changes, the ultimate goal of Shop it Here remains the same – to get more residents to shop locally.
“It's a benefit to our membership, it's a benefit to the community, and it keeps dollars here locally,” said Bob Feltmeier, president of the Chamber. “Everybody likes to try to shop Mt. Vernon first.”
For more information on the campaign, contact the Chamber at 242-5725, or visit www.southernillinois.com.