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Developing innovative strategies to increase community engagement, SHW schemes

The Challenge 

Throughout 2020 we have had the pleasure of extending the portfolio of our council-owned centres that we work with across the UK. Partnering with independent property real estate advisory – SHW we have delivered marketing practices and campaigns at:

• Park Mall, Kent

• Swan Centre, Leatherhead

• Elwick Place, Kent

• Vicarage Field, Hailsham

Each centre required an innovative strategy to help increase community engagement and footfall within their centre. The Toolbox Marketing objective was to help improve the centre performance including event management, PR, creative, web design, social media management, monthly reporting and onsite visits

The Solution 

Park Mall – In the heart of Ashford, Kent, home to some national brands, but also as a centre that welcomes and celebrates local independents. Park Mall is a valued community asset, which is something our strategy reflects and remind customers of. Toolbox Marketing positioned the centre as the heart of the community and we utilise digital channels to reach potential customers not only from within the town of Ashford but also the surrounding area. We have hosted a range of centre events to drive footfall to the centre and continue building relationships with tenants, the local community and customers in the hope to create memories and experiences.

Swan Centre Toolbox Marketing positioned the Swan Centre as a brand that offers essential shopping and facilities to support the community of Leatherhead and the surrounding villages. We continue to communicate the benefits and attraction of the shopping mission at the Swan Centre through targeted marketing to the local key demographic. We have given the brand a strongly supportive and friendly personality by creating stories that build the brand and improve the customer experience.

Elwick Place – Elwick Place is a growing leisure destination in Ashford, Kent and we have positioned the centre as the place to go for a complete experience in Ashford. We continue to use their social media platforms as a place to promote and celebrate the town of Ashford and other local groups such as Love Ashford.

Vicarage Field – This small community centre in Hailsham required a digital presence online. Toolbox Marketing created and has grown the Vicarage Field social media platform utilising tenant focused content that excites and inspires our audience.

The How:

While many of our originally planned events were cancelled due to the global pandemic the world felt like it came to a stop, however, we kept on going and delivered a variety of successful digital campaigns across our SHW centres portfolio.

Social distancing restrictions were not lifted all at once – therefore a staged return to shops was implemented. This meant anxiety levels were very high suggesting we needed a soft COVID approach per centre that helped enforce the new social distancing rules and digital-only campaigns to help keep everyone’s spirits up.

COVID Campaigns – We delivered effective COVID campaigns across our SHW centres portfolio. We ensured appropriate messaging was made visible in all the centres through appropriate signage and messaging. We ensured we were maintaining the safety of our customers and social distancing in each centre by following a branded approach, that is a little friendlier to make sure visitors feel welcomed.

Egg-tastic Easter – With our originally planned Easter event, our digital Easter campaign provided the community of Leatherhead creative, engaging and fun entertainment and activities to enjoy over Easter including a colouring book, Easter egg hunt and digital competitions!

Fantastic Father – Social media campaigns that delivered record levels of social media engagement and reach by rewarding the local Ashford and Leatherhead communities. To celebrate all the Dads on Father’s Day, we ran a Facebook competition where customers can nominate their Dad/ Grandad/ Father figure as the centres ‘Fantastic Father’.

SMILE WITH US – An online ‘postcard’ service partnered with a local charity ran during Mental Health Awareness Week took place to help spread happiness in Leatherhead and the surrounding areas. Shoppers were are able to visit the Swan Centre’s website and send a physical or a digital postcard to their friends, family and loved ones – completely FREE of charge.

Mosaic Wall – We created a piece of art as a pledge of thanks to all the local heroes in Leatherhead and the surrounding areas. On the 31st of July 2020, visitors at the Swan Centre were invited to pose for a photo to be a part of our giant 600 picture art display. We know some individuals still do not feel ready to leave their homes so we therefore also offered consumers the opportunity to send in their images virtually via social media using the campaign hashtag.

Summer of Fun – The Swan Centre’s summer campaign ran online targeting families in the Leatherhead area. The campaign included weekly craft sessions, sing-along sessions, storytime sessions and baking sessions all via Facebook live. The aim of this campaign was to continue to make the local community smile and keep children entertained during the summer holidays. The sessions ran on the same day each week at the same time to build excitement. Gamification engages audiences because it increases excitement, anticipation and competition.

In addition, a summer-themed digital spinning wheel was designed as an engaging competition. The campaign not only provided a reason to visit the centre in the future but also contributed to helping us to generate a consumer database.

Tenant Spotlight – A digital campaign that provides an opportunity to showcase products from a particular store within Park Mall on a weekly basis to help encourage additional spend by visitors in the centre.