Hi everyone! I hope you had a relaxing & fun Canada Day!  Our Weekly Member Update has a new look and will still be available to view online for your convenience.  I have three items to tell you about this week, leading first with our good news story .  

The Digital Main Street Program is back with a $2500 Digital Transformation Grant!

  Many of you asked us about applying for the Digital Main Street Grant after last year’s deadline have already passed, so we’re really excited that you now have another chance to apply! The program was very successful last year, participating Orangeville BIA members were provided with funding that they were able to use in order to:  
  • Hire an individual or agency to build a new website or improve an existing site
  • purchase equipment for product photography
  • learn how to create social media posts through training and mentoring programs
  • hire an agency or individual to create social media posts and update social media profiles
  • and so much more!
Registration is now open!  Click here to begin, and continue reading below for more information about the program!   Why was the Digital Main Street Program created?   The reality is that Main Street small businesses manage their operations with limited time, funds, and often with limited knowledge of the latest digital tools and techniques.   You may be the best of the best when it comes to YOUR business, but there isn’t much time leftover to master the digital marketing world.   Even if you are well-versed in Instagram and Facebook, spending hours on digital marketing each week can take away from other important aspects of growing your business.   This program is designed to help you achieve more in less time, and to help you tailor a marketing strategy to suit your business needs.  It can also help you to pay for outside marketing help if and when required to let you focus on what you know best – your business and your customers!   What are the Objectives of the Digital Transformation Grant Program?  
  1. Provide main street business owners a comprehensive plan to guide their digital transformation
  The Digital Assessment at the start of the program will help to identify gaps in your digital marketing strategy and the training will equip you with the tools to fill in these gaps. If you qualify for the grant, you can then fund improvements in these areas.   Sharon was frustrated that her business was not appearing in Google Search results, making it very difficult for her to reach new customers.   Through the training program, she realized that she did not have a Google Business Listing.  Sharon hired someone to help her create a Google Business Listing, add photos and full description, and complete her social media profiles on Facebook and Instagram to ensure accuracy and brand consistency across all platforms.   Sharon reported receiving a spike in telephone inquiries and foot traffic after the Google Listing was added and customers repeatedly told her “we found you on Google or Facebook”.    
  1. Provide main street businesses with the digital literacy skills they need to execute their digital transformation either through a do-it-yourself approach and/or being a smart consumer when purchasing these services. 
  For example, you may wish to use the grant money to enroll in a social media marketing course and purchase software and apps to create your own posts, OR you can hire an agency to make social media posts for you, OR a combination of a both.   Steve realized that he did not have time in his busy schedule to create regular social media posts, so he used the grant money to hire a digital marketing manager to create weekly posts for Facebook and Instagram.   Consistent, well-crafted posts resulted in a larger customer following and Steve found that this was a great way to communicate with his customers regarding business changes such as new store hours and other announcements.   Who is Eligible for the Grant?   Please click here for full eligibility requirements and FAQ’s (scroll down to bottom of page).   Great news! Previous Digital Main Street grant recipients may apply providing all reporting and project receipts have been submitted.   Getting Started   Applying is easy, register here to complete the Digital Assessment Questionnaire and the Pre-Qualification Form to confirm your eligibility.  You will then have access to the training portal where you can view the video’s and read through the materials at your own pace.    You will need about 10 hours total to complete the training portion, I recommend breaking this down to a few hours per day or complete the whole thing in one weekend.  Once training is complete, you can proceed to submit your application to receive the grant money.   We hope that many of you will be able to take advantage of this program, especially now in the context of COVID-19.  Customers are spending more time online than ever before, looking to find information and to shop online for products and services, hoping to connect with their favourite shops and restaurants in new ways, and wanting to show virtual support for their local businesses.   Can your customers find you?   If they land on your social media pages, will they find fresh and relevant content?  If not, then you need this program!  Please register and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions or require assistance at any time!   See you online!  

**Important! Business Hours Survey**

For the past several weeks we have been asking customers to check with each business directly to verify business hours since it varied greatly across the board.   Some of you were closed and offering hours for curbside pick up only, many of you were open but operating with reduced hours, and others were by appointment only.  As restrictions are starting to ease and we’re seeing more “regular” operating hours, the OBIA would like to get an overall sense of when Downtown is “Open for Business” so that we can communicate this to customers and to all of you.  Many of you have expressed an interest in aligning your store hours with other shops to make it easier for customers to get everything they need Downtown at the same day/time. Just a side note, we have noticed in the past few weeks a trend of shoppers coming Downtown later in the day for lunch or dinner on a patio and on Saturday morning’s for the Farmers’ Market, so if you are a retailer, you might consider shifting your hours to capture the dining crowd (from 11am -7 pm, for example) or Saturday Farmers’ Market traffic (9 am – 12 pm).   Please answer the short survey and we will release the results next week!  You can also access the survey here.

Webinar: The Art of Storytelling

  This is a great opportunity for anyone thinking about incorporating video into their online marketing strategy. Two local businesses The Art of Storytelling and Green Monkey Creative have teamed up to bring you a unique webinar: Video Storytelling on Social Media. In just two sessions you will learn: • How to identify your core values and relevant content - what even IS your brand story? • 10 Tips for more engagement - how the way your video is executed is what really counts. • content strategy - you’ve made a video, now what's the best way to share it? • how to examine your video’s place in the funnel - someone watched your video, now what!? • how to use AOS Content Cloud - a free mobile app They’ll also be taking your questions and will help you to come up with your own content marketing vision that is guaranteed to deliver results!   Click here to register for this FREE event!     Have a great weekend everyone!  Stay safe!