Macclesfield's High Street Can Survive, But Shops Need To Adapt For A Digital Future
Image by Bernt Rostad from Oslo, Norway (Arriving in Macclesfield) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We’re Macclesfield born and bred, don’tcha know?

Macclesfield has been our home since 2004, when we started the company within a converted cellar right in the heart of Treacle Town.

We’ve been here for close to 15 years; in that time our team has grown, we’ve made some amazing friends with local clients, and Banjo (the office dog) has somehow managed to maintain a healthy weight despite taking her job as biscuit monitor a little too seriously at times.

So we take shots across Macclesfield’s bow quite personally; Macclesfield’s a fantastic place, but to hear that the town centre recently topped the empty shops league for Cheshire East was a biscuit that even Banjo wouldn’t take.

Figures in the Macclesfield Express towards the end of May made for depressing reading. According to a report presented at a recent strategic planning committee, Macclesfield has the highest number of empty shops across the whole of the Cheshire East borough.

64 units are empty in the city centre, with councillors telling the Express they have genuine concerns that the days of people shopping locally ‘will be gone for good’.

Where does the blame lie? Fingers are being put towards delayed regeneration of the centre, high business rates and out of town shopping outlets. It’s a problem that’s not getting any better too; the number of empty shops in the town has remained the same as previous years, according to the report.

A digital strategy could help attract business

As a small business ourselves, we have total sympathy with those in the area who may have had to take the tough decision to close their business because of high overheads; it’s truly gutting from our point of view that so many empty units dot the Macclesfield landscape while there are so many creative people out there desperate to make a real difference to the community.

As damning as the statistics are though, Macclesfield is not alone in this. The town’s problems are a symptom of a much wider epidemic; the Centre for Retail Research has recently reported that an astonishing 61,000 stores have closed since 2012 and predict that another 31,000 stores will go by the end of 2022.

 

A digital strategy could help attract business

 

So, there’s nothing too systematically wrong with Macclesfield. Rather, the area’s feeling the effects of a deep-rooted societal change when it comes to retail, with the report highlighting how shifting shopping trends online is changing the very face of Britain’s high streets.

Time to liven things up; though on the surface things may not be looking too bright for our very own high street small business owners, start-ups and existing businesses in the area can join the online revolution right now and build an organic digital marketing strategy that will evolve alongside them and the commercial conditions they face.

Do it right, too, and the opportunity is there to build a strong well of local, loyal customers who will stick with your brand no matter the state of the high street.

5 ways to make a digital impact in Macclesfield

We don’t want that to sound like Macclesfield is in the past though, and everybody in the area’s glossing over the incredible impact digital can have for a brand. That’s why we recently wrote about five local businesses in the area who we think are doing an incredible job on social media and are creatively reaching out to consumers.

As good as social media is for generating interest though, it counts for little if your tweets and images – no matter how fun or creative they may be – are just looked at and passed over. Social media works better when it’s part of a wider philosophy called ‘inbound marketing’.

Engagement is key. An inbound strategy and wider approach is key to not just getting your business’s name out there. It’s essential for attracting people to your website, encouraging sales and keeping in touch with them in the future. Here’s how:

1: Giving you more time

Work with the right inbound provider and you could introduce marketing automation software to your business; especially handy if you’re a smaller operator. Is your sales team’s time taken up with data entry and would you like it to align better with your marketing department?

Automation can take tasks from your hands if you’re time-poor, giving you the opportunity to focus on growing your business and building stronger client relationships.

2: Collecting data ethically

We won’t mention GDPR, bet you’re sick of it! We’ve written about it before though if you’d like to hear our thoughts; inbound is perfect for a GDPR-compliant future for small business growth and is a great way to build stronger relationships with them on a local level.

Inbound is all about ethical, two-way conversations with people, meaning you can create a GDPR-proof and natural way of encouraging people to leave their data behind for future communications.

3: Show the best of Macclesfield

 

Show the best of Macclesfield

 

Macclesfield’s commercial side has a great community spirit. With a bespoke creative content campaign, you can show the best side of your business and create meaningful conversations over various channels with the people who matter to you most.

Macclesfield has a lot more to project to the wider county and the country than empty units. Not only can great content show off your brand, it can also show how much you love the town.

4: Local targeting tools

Put some budget into social media (especially Facebook and Instagram) and you can send incredibly targeted and creative messages to people with specific interests in and around the Macclesfield area. That helps you to build an audience of local customers who will be more likely to engage with you.

Users can also direct customers to specific pages; perfect for increasing sales and collecting communications data in ethical ways.

5: Perfect for accelerating growth

The simple fact is, too, that many businesses simply don’t need brick and mortar locations anymore, and an inbound strategy can help you grow no matter how you operate. A small business looking to get ahead in Macclesfield or an online entity working from a shared space?

There’s no reason a pop-up shop combined with a killer inbound strategy can’t help you grow. We think the future isn’t just bright for Macclesfield; we think it’s digital, too.

Want to find out more about the benefits of inbound marketing in Macclesfield? Contact the Webpresence team today to find out more.