"Buy Local" Marketing Campaign may be Implemented by Chamber

January 26, 2009


Lucas Murray tosses coins onto a table while talking about his team's plan to circulate extra coins in the area as part of their marketing campaign.

A marketing proposal designed to encourage Alliance area residents to shop in Alliance and formulated by a team of Mount Union College students may be implemented in some form this year by the Retail/Service Division of the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce.

Two teams presented their "Buy Local" campaigns to their client, the chamber, in a runoff before chamber members at a Business After Hours event held Thursday at Robertson Heating Supply. The winning team, designated "Team Coins," consisted of junior Greg Ferrell, sophomore Jeremy Gerstacker and sophomore Lucas Murray, who were presented with a $500 prize sponsored by Carlin Communications, Amos Communications and EmbroidMe. Team members Andrew Hofener, Vaughn Machel and Damon Sundman were not present.

Team Coins' proposal to spend in Alliance revolves around golden dollar coins. Retailers would stock up on golden dollars to give to customers when making change during the Oct. 1-Dec. 31 campaign. Retailers would thank residents for shopping in Alliance, remind them of the importance of doing so and ask them to spend the golden dollar again in Alliance.

Team Coins said its four-step marketing plan would cost $10,688.99 to implement, increase fourth-quarter sales by $70,000 and net a $14,000 profit within the first month.


Junior Ryan Sigler talks about his group's local marketing plan.

A second team, designated "Team Puzzle," consisted of junior Sarah Carlson, sophomore Patrick McGarvey, junior Ryan Renbarger, junior Ryan Sigler and sophomore Sarah Stewart. Team member Minh Tran was not present.

Team Puzzle proposed implementing an incentive program called "Shop Alliance, Save Alliance." The team would create a puzzle, the pieces of which would be randomly distributed at area retailers to encourage investigative shopping. "The completed puzzle (which could earn eight residents a $500 prize) represents a completed and saved Alliance," members said.

Team Puzzle said its marketing plan would cost $12,000 to implement and sales of $60,000 would net a $12,000 profit.

The proposals began as a routine class project for two of instructor Mark McConnell's foundations of marketing classes during the fall semester. Four judges -- McConnell, chamber President Mark Locke, Bob Blackburn of EmbroidMe and Brian Amos of Amos Communications -- sat through 12 presentations (six for each class) during final exams in December to determine the two winners that would present their proposals to the chamber membership.

Judges said winning projects would have widespread appeal, be easily implemented and presented well.


Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce members watch the presentations at the Business After Hours event at Robertson Heating Supply.

"We wanted to get some fresh ideas from students in that field to put together a program that will help Alliance," said Blackburn, chairman of the Retail/Service Division of the chamber.

The Retail/Service Division of the chamber will discuss Team Coins' winning project during its Feb. 19 meeting.

"The long-range goal is to implement this project," said Locke. "The long-range problem is $12,000 -- but we're hoping we generated enough interest tonight to get people on board."

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