It's quite easy to develop project fatigue as businesses are bombarded on a daily basis with any number of digital solutions that will transform their business. Ayrshire Connect could easily fall into that category and it is therefore important to outline what is trying to achieve and how it can be used by businesses moving forward.
Ayrshire Connect is a project aimed at connecting business with other businesses and customers, new and old, through a collaborative digital process and offering a "bottom up" web based platform to primarily drive traffic through doors and, secondly, build more direct online business. It is intended to be a complementary and collaborative project working with businesses and group development and marketing projects to create an additional channel to support current activities. Ayrshire Connect is not intended to displace or replace local initiatives but support and work with them in developing Ayrshire
The process is as said above "bottom up" - that means that this is not a marketing group that creates a plan to be followed by members. It is an initiative that encourage local businesses to work together with their local partners to improve the retail and hospitality experience for its own area. Ayrshire Connect will be able to provide digital resources to give support to areas that already have established business partnership groups and quickly aid the set up of new joint marketing and development initiatives for any town or village in Ayrshire.
So from the bottom up it looks like this:
Each and every business can have a free dedicated listing webpage on the Ayrshire Connect website which will include the following
The absolute aim of this business entry is to provide a clear channel through to your own digital space and drive more DIRECT business through in store and off line business. The entry is currently being set up for free by the Ayrshire Chamber team but each business has secure access (and support) to go in and update their own entries, offers and promotions.
The secondary benefit for micro businesses without their own website is that this page provides a fully optimised page that will help them be found in Google searches. Not having your own website is never something that we would commend to any business (relying on the generosity of social media companies to continue free promotion of your posts is NOT a secure marketing strategy!) but this search engine friendly page at least provides somewhere for your potential customers to land.
Each town and village in Ayrshire can have its own page. Given the scale of the project it has always been the plan that the localised content is provided by locals! We have created a "template" for how the town and village content could be written but the personalised flavour of a town and village is always best expressed by someone who lives and loves it. If you wish to get your fellow businesses or community groups on board and contribute to creating this local content please get in touch. A place page can be created in less than a day and we will provide you with an online sign up process to encourage your businesses to get involved.
As we will state repeatedly, this is not a project to replace current business associations or town centre initiatives but one which complements current activity and hopefully increases community reach and local commercial activity. Established groups and associations can have their own pages and links and if they can provide localised content then even better.
The local and community nature of the project is inbuilt. If we can provide a strong information network or directory of the massive range of community groups active in and around Ayrshire then the benefits are obvious. History groups, sports and activity groups, business associations, marketing bodies - Ayrshire Connect aims to support their activities in the same way it plans to support businesses - social media support, blogging and ongoing promotion of their own digital platforms through their own pages on the site. Their are example of such groups on the site already.
The site has been structured to act more like a matrix on the basis that the visitor may access the site from multiple points and not just the Ayrshire Connect homepage. For example a Facebook post from a business owner may link directly to their town page on Ayrshire Connect; a food business may link directly to the Food and Drink section.
Because of this the site has been structured by geographical location and by business sector - In short you can search by the town (location) you are visiting or you can search Ayrshire wide by your planned reason to visit (sector) be it food and drink retail or family day out.
The site structure will be monitored and activity tracked and no doubt it will evolve and ongoing feedback on ow it can be improved will be a continuous process.
This project can and will only succeed from the bottom up; creating content from the top down is never feasible and is not sustainable. Sustainable success requires local businesses to see the benefits of working together, creating more reasons to visit and understand the benefits of creating joint marketing initiatives that work for them and their customers.
It is the localisation of this activity that means that individual towns and villages can see direct benefits and use Ayrshire Connect to their own benefit; it does NOT need every town and village to be equally proactive for your own town or village to benefit greatly. That is the beauty of working from the bottom up - each local community can create their own benefits.
We have tried to make this website as accessible as possible and easy to use for everyone, regardless of circumstance or ability.
All our page templates comply with the WCAG Priority 2 checkpoints as a minimum requirement. And we make every effort to ensure that all the content on our site meets this standard too. We are making every effort to ensure that we don't exclude any users. For example:
We try to publish all our text content as accessible HTML rather than in other formats such as PDF. Where we do publish PDFs or other formats our policy is to make them as accessible as we can.