Word of mouth
The best publicity you will ever get is if people recommend your food co-op to their friends and colleagues. There is nothing to beat a personal recommendation, because people value the opinions of those that they know and trust.
Most food co-ops say that 'word of mouth' is their most effective way of attracting new members, and if your food co-op is well run and popular, then people will recommend you to their friends anyway, with little encouragement.
Information about your food co-op could be passed on in conversations, or via an email, online message board or website. Some ideas for encouraging personal recommendations are:
- Identify local 'champions' who can tell people about your food co-op in formal and informal settings.
- Encourage customers to tell their friends by offering them incentives such as a free bag of food for each new customer they bring along.
- Provide the text for emails and website announcements, to make it easy for people to spread the word.
You can also promote your food co-op by networking with other agencies, groups and individuals who are interested in similar issues. For example:
- Some primary care trusts have health trainers, whose job it is to inform local people about how to live more healthily. So they may be keen to find out about local food co-ops and can refer people to you that they believe could benefit by taking part.
- Many children's centres or schools see food co-ops as a great way to promote healthy eating, and so may be happy to promote your food co-op to parents or even help set one up.
- Some food co-ops can get support through local environment groups or groups interested in sustainability, such as Transition Town Initiatives
Many of these community organisations may also produce their own newsletters or have website where they can feature free adverts or listings that could include information about your food co-op.