Uncategorized Archives - Local Shopping in Smith Street, Warwick | Party 2014

Local Shopping News

It appears that some of the traders on Smith Street are experimenting more and more with new ideas to attract new customers.

As mentioned before in previous posts, event based shopping could be a way forward. The shopping public want more than just a shop to purchase goods from. They want excellent service, competitive pricing and something on offer that differs from the supermarkets or the internet, they want an experience. Independent traders can offer the personal touch and an experience that the multi nationals and the internet can’t offer. Traders need to find “Compelling reasons” for the shopper to come to them rather than the easy options of the internet and supermarkets.

The latest business on Smith Street to try new ideas is Journey The World
This is a great example of how a small business can beat the internet, where else could you get advice to suit you rather than the masses. This is the personal touch that small independents can deliver and the internet, supermarkets or the multi nationals can’t.

On Tuesday 15th October 2013 Journey The world will be hosting an India & Sri Lanka evening. This event will be held at the Warwick Arms Hotel rather than the agency premises. This is due to demand of the event.
The evening will consist of talks, information and Q&A to the specialist providers. Please contact Alyson or Aimee for further details on 01926 400121 or email.

By Paul Evans | Categories Uncategorized

Our Friends Down South

There are two different towns in two different counties. One town is on the seaside,  the other is in the middle of England. The thing in common with both; they’re trying to buck the trend and both had failed “Portas Pilot” Bids.

The hot topic these days is the High Street or more accurately, Saving the High Street. The government and Mary Portas all have their views splashed all over the newspapers and various internet sites such as the BBC  however the views of the independent traders are still being ignored. I admit that some of Ms Portas ideas are valid and the Mike Grimesy report via the Guardian has merit but why aren’t they getting to the heart of the problem and speak with the people at the sharp end.

Towns like Swanage and Warwick have been taking things into their own hands after failing to secure £100k of funds to help regenerate the towns and High Streets. Go it alone groups are springing up everywhere, trying to access funding from all areas of local government. Warwick managed to access funding through the County Council’s Operation Footfall scheme, while down in Swanage, Dorset. They’ve had to go a different route.

The Swanage & Purbeck  Hospitality Association Understand that they are one of the big winners by having a thriving tourism market which in turn makes for a vibrant town centre. (Currently Swanage has less than 7% vacancy rates on its High Street.) So the Association set up and pay into a fund that is used to benefit the town as a whole.
When an individual or group has an idea that will increase footfall, the association, after reviewing & approving the plan, will underwrite it. After speaking with a guesthouse owner, it appears that many festivals, including the forthcoming Folk Festival and a Comedy Festival have all been supported in their infancy by the Hospitality sector and now both festivals are fully self reliant. I may also add that the festivals bring in large numbers of visitors and helps to extend the “season” for the town.

So, could or should this type of idea be up and running in Warwick. After all there is a strong hospitality sector and everyone accepts that this area always gains the most from events such as the recent Food & Film Festival. Warwick now has the WarwickRocks group which try to access funding solely to promote the town, which of course benefits all sectors of the trading environment.
The business owners voted No to a BID for various reasons, however can business owners of all sectors believe that the council will keep funding various initiatives such as Operation Footfall? Or groups like WarwickRocks to be successful in gaining more funds?

It maybe time to get our thinking heads on with regard to funding these small groups of forward thinking individuals. They’re willing and able but it costs to implement new initiatives that can save the High Street.

By Paul Evans | Categories Uncategorized

There’s something new going on

Sorry about the lack of updates recently. I’ve been up to my neck in street parties and the inaugural Food & Film Festival here in Warwick.

Currently we are in full flow of the week long Food n Film Fest, so far there has been a Drive in showing Grease which was 6x over subscribed. Two films shown in the Lord Leycester Hospital and both were full with “Some Like it Hot” full up 1 hour before curtain up. With Catalan Restaurant provided Canapes & Sangria to keep the waiting guests happy.

Marolyn  from Browsers on Smith St

The week long festival does have an aim though. It was funded by Warwickshire County Council through its Operation Footfall Scheme. The aim of the scheme is well err, to increase footfall through out the county and it’s smaller High Streets and Town Centres.

The festival started with Smith Street hosting the first of many firsts for Warwick this week, a food festival. It has to be said that the organisers were up against it with so many other events going on in and around the County. Warwickrocks, the organisers came to the party a bit late so many market and stall traders ha already booked other events, however more than 30 stall holders booked spaces and along with the resident traders pretty much filled Smith Street.

The first event appears to have been a success with a kitchen demonstration stage sited at the bottom of Smith St helping to draw large numbers of visitors.
The organisers have used the WCC preferred method of calculating footfall and I have to say that the numbers are quite impressive even when you consider the inclement weather of the day. Figures show that between 10,000 – 12,000 people came to the event.

So with this influx of people what does it actually mean to the business’s and the local community of Warwick?

To answer this I’m going to use myself as an example. In one week I have gained four new customers that found my business directly by visiting the food festival on 17th August. Now to some this may not seem very many or much more income to me or the town but when you apply logic and government guidelines, things seem to be much more positive. This is how.
Each customer on average comes 10 times per year each time he spends £10 which equals £100. 4  customers means £400.00. Hopefully if I do my job well enough they just might tell a few of their friends. Anyway we’ll stick to this original £400.00.
The UK government tells us that for every £1.00 spent locally is actually worth £1.70 to the local economy. What they mean is that when I’ve earn’t money and made a profit I’ll then spend it in another shop locally. Example; customer comes in, pays. I take that money and go to the shop up the road and buy a coffee or whatever. The coffee man takes the income from that coffee and goes to another shop on the street and buys something else and so on.
So my 4 new customers brings £680 into the local economy. Now imagine how many other business’s may have gained new clients over the last week or so.

So far the figures from the festival are indicating that the County Councils investment of funding the event are showing excellent returns. The figures are indicating that it has cost £1.00 to bring in 1 person to Warwick. Using the factual illustration above, I’d say that was a pretty good return on investment, wouldn’t you?

By Paul Evans | Categories Uncategorized

Local Business, can you make it stand out? Here are a few tips for Google Maps.

Google has been busy changing a lot of the user interfaces for its local search services. Between the new Google Maps, the Google Local Carousel and the new Reviews Pop-Ups, they have certainly thrown the local search world into a tizzy.
I have been playing around with the new Google Maps, and I thought I’d share some random observations about how to work inside the Matrix:

1. Want Traffic From Google Maps? Buy An Ad

Below is a set of map results for “pizza” in Pleasanton, CA. As you can see, the purple & white ads stand out.
Pleasanton Pizza Google Maps 3
In the queries I have tried, there are rarely more than two of these ads, and most searches yield none. Taking control of this inventory could give your business an advantage in the near term.

2. Want Traffic From Your Google Maps Ad? Use The Sexy Keyword First

The white space in the ad units only displays the first 10-13 or so characters. That means starting your ad copy with words that don’t compel action (like “An East Bay…” above) is probably a waste.
Domino’s Pizza has the right idea by starting out with an offer like “50% Off Any…” which will probably get my “I’ll eat anything that’s cheap” attention. “Free” is another good word to start with.

3. Put Your Name in ALL CAPS

Check out Extreme Pizza up there strutting its bad self.
Warning: This is a violation of Google Places guidelines, which states: “You may capitalize the first letter of each word or include up to a four-letter acronym. However, entire words should not be capitalized.” Proceed with caution.

4. Beat MapOverlap Syndrome™ (“MapLap”©) With Domain Authority

If two nearby locations appear in the same search, one of the locations may overpower the other with what I am calling MapLap (T-shirts coming soon). For example, a search for “coffee shops” in Pleasanton yields the following:
Tullys Google Maps Default
If you zoom in one click, though, you get:
Tullys Google Maps Zoomed In
And if you zoom in another click, you get:
Tullys Google Maps 2x Zoom
Until the user zooms in, both Stacey’s and Cafe Main are hidden. I have examined a number of instances where this occurs — and thus far in all cases, the business that appears on top of the MapLap (while supplies last) pile is the one that appears to have the strongest domain authority (aka links, citations, etc.).
That said, this display is also highly dependent on the location of the searcher; so, it’s not clear that we all will get the same ordered pile.

5. Study Related Map Searches For Your Category

Mining related search data is nothing new. What is new is how nicely Google Maps displays the related search queries as part of the search box.
Related Searches Google Maps
In the above example, if you click on “espresso,” you will see that very few businesses in the area appear for that term. This would be a hint to add the word “espresso” to your Google+ Local business description, your website and to relevant citations for your business.

6. Influence What People Say About Your Business

Businesses that get a decent amount of reviews on non-Google sites appear to display additional keywords below the business name on the map — like Bob’s, which appears to be known for their shakes and their lettuce:
Bob's Shakes
This is a subset of the keywords that show up in the “At a glance” section of the Google+ Local page. As best I can tell, these words appear because they occur often in online discussions people have about these businesses on sites like Yelp, UrbanSpoon, etc.
I have had success influencing these keywords on occasion, but if you want to affect what shows up there, promote it. For example, if Bob wanted to get rid of “lettuce” perhaps he should run a “Curly Fries” promotion to get people talking about his awesome curly fries all over the Web.

7. Get To Know The Top Reviewers In Your Area

You can filter map queries by “top reviewers” in the search box:
pizza by experts
Explore the Google+ Local pages of the businesses that appear in these results and you’ll find people who tend to write a lot of reviews. Circle them, friend them, offer them some curly fries with lettuce. Get them talking about you and you might find yourself with more lettuce to play around with.
I’ll keep digging and let you know what other goodies I find. If you figure anything else out, let me know…and the curly fries are on me.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.
By Paul Evans | Categories Uncategorized

Local shopping and Radio Adverts

This year for the first time the Smith Street Traders Association (SSTA) used the radio advertising to promote it’s annual Street Party. This year, best guess estimates indicate that visitors to the event were perhaps around the 10,000 mark. At any point during 12.00 & 16.30 it was estimated that there were between 2-3000 people on the street.
Some traders on Smith Street suggested that it was perhaps the best ever attended Party since it began about 7 years ago.

So what made a difference? Could the weather be the reason, which of course will always help or is it that this great event is well established? One additional reason maybe that the SSTA chose not to advertise by their usual means of relying on the Folk Festival program to advertise the Street Party. This year the traders group went to Touch Fm to make a radio advert which was aired 56 times in the week running up to Saturday 27th July.

With the Warwickrocks Food & Film Festival Launching on Smith Street on 17th August 2013, radio advertising has been used again to promote the food festival. I guess time will tell on how effective local radio advertising can be. Of course advertising like radio or any other format needs to be a part of a whole strategy for advertising. One thing won’t work on it’s own. Using the radio and other mediums such as social media are proving effective in Warwick. Should our councils, County, District or even Town be using Radio to promote their own assets like Town Centres and High Streets?

listen to ‘Warwick Rocks Food and Film Festival Street Food and Markets radio advert’ on Audioboo

By Paul Evans

By Paul Evans | Categories Uncategorized

Warwick News – Not Standing Idle

Yesterday evening the Warwick District Community Forum held a special meeting at Ayelsford School. The meeting was for the District Council officers to meet local residents and others (Me) to discuss the new local plan and the proposed Gypsy Traveller Sites.

More than 400 people turned up on the warm and balmy evening ready to berate the officers over their proposals. Over 12500 homes are planned for our particular corner of planet earth. It seems that South Warwickshire and particularly Warwick have been made into a super hero town because it looks like we’re taking the vast majority of the required developments to provide housing as suggested by the Government. The plans seem bizarre, greenbelt being trounced on to build homes that currently, according to last nights report from WDC officers are not yet needed. The area has enough planning permissions already passed to build enough homes to last for 5 years.

Temperatures rose even higher when some officers couldn’t answer the questions that were put to them by there adoring public.

The upshot is that if you don’t get your objections or suggestions in by 29th July 2013 then who knows what will happen. On behalf of 60 fellow traders from Smith St, Warwick I’ve posted our views. to top that off, after I had a small rant at the officers of WDC, Smith St has now been granted a private audience with a highways planning dude who says he wants to help. Lets wait and see, shall we.

Paul Evans

By Paul Evans | Categories Uncategorized

Police & Finances……Again

As you can see back in March I posted an article on our local police force. Well, I have more frustrations to vent.

Every year in Warwick since time began their has been a carnival. Within the carnival a parade used to take place. For two years now we’ve had a carnival without a parade.

Why! My readers cry? Well, the reason is this; our local chief constable deemed that it would be better to spend his limited resources with more effective policing. With this statement he has made a good point. However it’s not the whole picture.
You or an organisation can steward rolling road

Those were the days.

closures for things like parades etc. What you have to do is get yourself a special certificate which you get by completing a special course for stewarding. Our Chamber of Trade was told that the police were the only ones that can train and when finish said course, certificate people. Guess what? Our police force won’t train people. This is why for two years now the Warwick Carnival is a parade short of a full carnival.

I wonder if the local force have come across the term “Community Relations”

By Paul Evans Google+

By Paul Evans | Categories Uncategorized

The Police

A few months ago, across the nation, not just in the centre of the universe here in Warwick, an election took place. This election was for us citizens to put in place a police commissioner into our local forces.

He or she was meant to be the link between the public and the Chief Constable of the force. Anyway the election happened which incidentally confused a lot of us because you could vote your first choice then your second. In this confusion the independent candidate, Mr Ron Ball eventually elected to the post here in Warwickshire.Nice guy, may or may not do a good job who knows, lets just see shall we.

Currently Mr Ball is banging away on his calculator trying to balance the books and somehow provide us with a better force. Currently there are approximately 850 police officers in our fair county. He of course wants to add more. Good on him you cheer. Hooray more coppers on the beat. But hold on there. He intends to recruit more “Specials” and PCO’s. These are not the same, especially the PCO’s. They can’t actually arrest anyone. So what’s the real point in employing powerless PCO’s? His energy and financial resources would be more wisely spent in ways to find out why more than 7% of the Warwickshire County Police Force are on long term sick leave. Yes, 7% on long term sick!

Imagine if the company that you own or work for had a long term sickness record like that. This is where his effort should be directed. A 50% improvement on long term sick would equate to about 30 officers back at work who could actually arrest criminals.

Finally, did you know that the rates of Warwickshire’s business’s provide’s 20% of the police budget?

When asked, Mr Ball couldn’t answer a question from a small business owner; “Do you feel that the business community get good value for their 20% contribution?” Mr Ball is still looking for his calculator before he can answer that one.

Since posting this article their has been a development. Now I understand why Mr Ball was having trouble with his finances.

By Paul Evans | Categories Uncategorized