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Promoting business in market towns

View profile for Peter Mills
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Promoting business in market towns
Harrowells' Susie Mortonson (R) talks to Thirsk mayor Hazel Dalgleish-Brown at the Thirsk4business launch

In an environment dominated by a shift from physical to online contact and where many private and public services are being progressively centralised, how do market towns maintain their role as economic ‘kingpin’ in their locality?

The key may well lie in combining those features of the online world that favour local businesses with the traditional advantages of proximity and face-to-face contact. Across rural Yorkshire there are a number of examples of market towns undertaking collective promotion of their locality, launching local shopping apps and nurturing local business groups.

The recent relaunch of the Thirsk & District Business Association is one such example. Over 100 representatives from local businesses attended the Association’s unveiling of its new format and new website at a morning event at Thirsk Racecourse; three speakers outlined their views on how a market town like Thirsk can thrive if local businesses pull together.

Sheralyn Wade, Head of Sales and Marketing at Thirsk Racecourse, explained how the combination of recent investment and planned upgrades at the racecourse together with the perceived wider range of attractions on the racecourse’s doorstep are helping draw more visitors to each race meeting and to other functions.

David McKnight, charged with promoting business activity across Hambleton’s market towns, provided a district-wide perspective drawing on analysis of online customer review data to highlight that ‘winning’ market towns are those able to deliver high standards of service and build a profile that sets them apart from neighbouring towns.

Guy Baragwanath, of Thirsk accountants C&GB Associates and Chair of Thirsk & District Business Association, outlined how the Association, with funding from Hambleton District Council and professional assistance from Deborah Goodhall of Aer8 Marketing and Caroline Todd of HotToddi social media marketing, is developing a varied programme of online activity, social events, talks and local visits to encourage local businesses to build a mutual awareness of what is available locally and collaborate to promote business to both local residents and visitors.

The new Thirsk & District Business Association website (developed by Thirsk-based Proportion Marketing) and information on membership can be found at https://thirsk4business.co.uk/

Details of the forthcoming Hambleton Business Conference which focuses on many of the issues raised in this blog can be found  here

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