kawarthaNOW has launched a new “choose local” section on its website dedicated to promoting and supporting locally owned businesses and consumers who choose local first.
The new website section is the first phase of kawarthaNOW’s Keep It In The Kawarthas® campaign to help connect consumers with locally owned businesses in the greater Kawarthas area — including Peterborough County, the City of Kawartha Lakes, and Northumberland, Hastings, and Haliburton counties.
“During the pandemic, we all saw the campaigns encouraging us to support local business,” says Jeannine Taylor, founder, CEO, and publisher of kawarthaNOW. “The lockdowns are hopefully long gone, but there’s never been a greater need to promote local. Consumers still want to choose local first, and we’ve dedicated an entire section of our website to promote our region’s locally owned businesses.”
Jeannine first conceived of the concept for Keep It In The Kawarthas® back in 2012, well before choose local campaigns became ubiquitous. That initial concept included a registered trade-mark, a prototype logo, and a limited run of high-quality locally sourced shopping bags as promotional items, which proved to be very popular.
Inspired by the outpouring of support for local businesses during the pandemic, Jeannine resurrected the concept and began to develop a more comprehensive campaign. The launch of the new choose local website section — where people can read more than 120 stories about locally owned businesses — is only the beginning of kawarthaNOW’s Keep It In The Kawarthas® campaign which, when fully launched in the new year, will go far beyond just creating awareness of the importance of supporting local business.
“Our full campaign will be more than just a hashtag — it will be something that can truly assist local business in reaching new customers,” she says. “While we have a promotional package for the giving season to celebrate our new website section, Keep It In The Kawarthas is more than a short-term marketing campaign. It will be an ongoing and evolving campaign to support local businesses and to encourage people to choose local first.”
Jeannine points out kawarthaNOW, as a locally owned business itself, has experienced many of the same challenges local business owners continue to face even though the pandemic is waning — such as increasing competition from large corporations and internet giants like Amazon.
That makes kawarthaNOW’s Keep It In The Kawarthas® choose local campaign unique, she says.
“Our team has been researching all types of support local campaigns across North America and we believe this to be the first choose local campaign created by a local business for other local businesses,” Jeannine explains.
“It’s great there was government support to help local businesses make it through the pandemic, but that support won’t always be there,” Jeannine says. “Local businesses need to come together to support each other. We all succeed when that happens.”
The Keep It In The Kawarthas® branding is one example of local businesses supporting one another. The brand materials were developed by Amy E. LeClair Graphic Design and Brand Studio in Cavan Monaghan Township.
What also makes the Keep It In The Kawarthas® choose local campaign unique from others, Jeannine says, is kawarthaNOW’s capacity as a locally owned digital media company to reach a wide audience of both local businesses and consumers.
“We have over 70,000 regular readers of kawarthaNOW.com and over 77,000 followers on our social channels and subscribers to our weekly VIP enews,” Jeannine notes. “We’re already well positioned to promote local business across the greater Kawarthas region and our new website section is just the beginning.”
The Keep It In The Kawarthas® campaign is exclusive to locally owned businesses. Businesses that want to learn more — and be the first to know when the full campaign launches — can visit the new choose local section on the kawarthaNOW website and join the email list for local businesses.
kawarthaNOW has also already created two Keep It In The Kawarthas® Facebook groups — a group for local businesses and a group for local shoppers — to prepare for the full campaign launch, Jeannine says, which reveal how passionate people are when it comes to supporting local business.
“We’ve been developing membership in our Facebook groups for this campaign,” Jeannine explains. “Right now we have close to 500 members in our locally owned business group on Facebook and over 2,100 members in our local shoppers group on Facebook.”
According to Jeannine, the combination of kawarthaNOW’s website and social media reach creates a powerful opportunity for locally owned businesses.
“I think of us as matchmakers,” she says. “We have a wide audience of residents, cottagers, and visitors to the greater Kawarthas region. A vast majority of them want to — and will — support local business. They need to know who is local, where they are, and what they offer. We will show local shoppers where to choose local and why they should choose local first.”
The new choose local website section is one way the Keep It In The Kawarthas® campaign will let people know where they can find local businesses to support.
“If you see a story about a business in our Keep it in The Kawarthas section, you can be assured that business is locally owned,” Jeannine says.
Along with promoting local business, kawarthaNOW will also be recognizing and rewarding people who choose local first through its innovative Kawartha Localist™ initiative.
According to Jeannine, a Kawartha Localist™ is a person or business owner who chooses local first wherever possible as part of their daily life. They can be someone who makes it a regular practice to shop locally and to promote local businesses to their friends and neighbours, or a business person who regularly chooses local suppliers.
People can nominate a Kawartha Localist™ by visiting the choose local section of the website.
While the full launch of the Keep It In The Kawarthas® campaign is coming in the new year, Jeannine says kawarthaNOW is celebrating the launch of its choose local section with a special offer for local businesses to help promote their holiday and year-end sales.
Locally owned businesses who want to be the first to know about the full Keep It In The Kawarthas® campaign launch — and receive exclusive offers — can join the email list for local businesses.
“We’re thrilled to be able to support local businesses now, but we’re even more excited about the full launch of our Keep It In The Kawarthas campaign,” Jeannine says. “We think our choose local campaign will be a game-changer for how locally businesses can work together to support each other and our local economy.”