Originally produced for my Greetings Today magazine retail column, this article talks about a retail/art trail I produced to promote a high street in Cudworth, Barnsley, home to independent greeting card shop Wishes of Cudworth…
This month’s column is all about bunnies. Wait, don’t worry you’ve not picked up a copy of Rabbits Today by mistake, this will link into greeting cards eventually. For you see, as I type this article in the lovely, sunny month of June, we’re just about to bring back the world famous Cudworth Bunny Trail for its second year. This Reta nominated retail initiative was first run in Cudworth in 2017 as an idea to link our village shops together to produce an art trail. A direct way of encouraging people to walk around our high street, visit our little shops and hopefully become future customers. The Bunny Trail even helped form a Cudworth community association. As one wag quipped “all this from an idea scribbled on the back of a fag packet”. Which whilst tongue in cheek wasn’t quite on target, it actually took a lot of planning, arm twisting, crying and pleading to get this idea off the ground but the reward was more people on our high street, which can only be a good thing.
For its return in 2018, even more work was involved as the Bunny map/leaflet has been expanded to 12 pages and artists have painted the bunnies. Each rabbit has a different design and for me this has been the best part of the whole project: Getting to meet and spend time with such inventive and inspirational arty types has been a joy. Sometimes the sheer delight of creatively can be lost to need to make money and this project has reawaken my imagination. Artist really are awesome people. We’ve even got two of our greeting card suppliers on-board: the wonderful Cherry Orchard Publishing and Lola Design.
The Bunny Trail, is basically 12 colourful rabbits hidden in 12 different shops around Cudworth. Parents and their children pick up a bunny map from a “Bunny Stop”, follow it picking up bunny stickers and then finally return to Wishes to pick up a bunny treat bag (I must have broken the record for mentioning bunnies in an article by now). There’s a whole back story involving Viking Bunnies and a Keep Cudworth Tidy message too. It’s good clean bunny fun. We’ve been into local schools to do assembles and hope to have the bunnies on display in a Barnsley gallery once the event has finished.
Which is all very real-world marketing and maybe not quite befitting of a column called On The Line. But here’s the twist: A great marketing initiative makes for a great social media story. And that is what we’re trying to create, a story. Something other than a “buy this new product please’” tweet, Facebook post or Instagram Boomerang. Don’t get me wrong, our new products always get a great reaction online but it’s good to mix it up. Linking your shop into a local community event or project gives you an amazing platform to build social media content around.
I’ve been guilty of prioritising Facebook over Twitter and Instagram, plus don’t get me started on Pinterest, it’s been a long running joke that one day I’ll sort that out. I run two Facebook business pages: The Wishes of Cudworth page and one community page: Cudworth Village News. We have a Twitter and Instagram account for Wishes but both are neglected for my Facebook favouritism. The Cudworth Bunny Trail has given me the kick up the cotton tail to finally shake things up. I’ve set up a Cudworth Bunny Trail Instagram account with the aim of sharing photos rather than just creating new content myself. Using the repost app I’ll be able to share posts by the bunny artists and hopefully a few Cudworth residents as they take part in the trail too. Additionally, we now have a Visit Cudworth Twitter account which I’m running with one of our community association volunteers. Finally, all the 12 Bunny Stop shops are creating their own social media content, posting photos and updates onto their Facebook pages. This can only increase the profile of the event as it’s not just Wishes promoting the event on Facebook alone.
We’re also spinning off the Cudworth Bunny Trail into smaller promotions: At Wishes we’re running bunny colouring competition. The Cudworth library are running a Peter Rabbit themed giveaway and one idea is to have pebbles painted with rabbit designs hidden in our park to create a Cudworth rock hunt. I’ve even wrote a Cudworth Bunny Trail short story, about Viking rabbits fighting mythical beasts which is currently on the back burner as alas, Julia, our shop’s owner thinks it may traumatise the children (It’s all very Hans Christian Andersen). All this activity, makes for engaging online content.
I mentioned Wishes was lucky to be nominated for a Reta in the best greeting card retailer initiative category. Along with Blue Rose Gifts & Balloons, Calliope Gifts, Dragonfly Cards & Gifts, Ohh Deer and Scribbler, we’ve each come up with a unique way to promote our shops. An interesting story that we can share across social media platforms So, be bold and brave and release your inner artist to come up with a retail initiative of your own. Find you own animal sprit guide and come up with a creative way get people talking about your shop.
I wanted to end this article with a bunny pun. This sadly is the best I could find: “How do you know carrots are good for your eyes? Because you never see a rabbit wearing glasses”. I’ll get my coat. I hope you’ve enjoyed this rabbitastic article and that’s all folks.