By Jenny Clarke, Associate

We recently detailed our comprehensive high street reopening campaign during our 18-month engagement with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in our case study. In this three-part blog series, we explore how this programme addressed public health, economic rejuvenation, and community building using our three-pronged approach.

Like councils and BIDs nationwide, The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead was faced with a problem: declining footfall on high streets, intensified by Covid-19 and a lack of confidence in face-to-face shopping and tourism. To remedy this, in March 2020 – during the first national lockdown – the Royal Borough engaged DigiKind to transform their high streets and support local businesses.

DigiKind developed a three-pronged strategy to bring about true and lasting transformation, including creative communications, digital community building, and tailored support and training to empower local businesses. Our strategy hit the mark; Windsor alone saw an uplift in footfall of 315% on reopening, our comms gained national and international media coverage, and the local business community became a strong self-sustaining network.

Other strategies might have focussed only on the creative campaign and the digital platforms on which it was delivered. However, DigiKind understood that to make the changes meaningful and long-lasting, the local businesses themselves must be at the heart of the transformation, and so the third – and arguably most vital – prong in our strategy ensured businesses had the help and support they needed to make change happen.

RBWM Together Hub

Training, support and networks for businesses

From the outset we engaged local businesses, working alongside them to deliver the most effective creative campaign and tailored digital ecosystem. To ensure businesses had all they needed to be part of the campaign we created an online hub with assets, a style guide and tool-kits.

But our strategy didn’t stop there. Understanding the importance for the high street to embrace the digital world, we trained over 200 businesses, helping them to develop their own digital strategies and interlink with the wider community.

Discovering where many businesses had gaps in their skill-sets, we created and ran free training sessions covering topics like ‘How to go Digital,’ ‘Campaign Best Practice,’ and ‘Trends in Social Media.’ We then developed this training into easily digestible ‘Lunch and Learn’ online courses: five hour-long sessions designed for time-poor business owners which we delivered over the course of six months. We supplemented this training with 19 inspiring Breakfast Briefings providing top tips from world-class entrepreneurs, and we held two in-person networking events to ensure businesses had the opportunity to share their solutions with each other. Through contacts made at this training we also provided one to one digital strategy expertise to those businesses who really needed help.

In 2021, the Royal Borough asked DigiKind to partner on developing their ‘Additional Restrictions Grant Innovation Scheme,’ whereby local businesses who met the criteria, attended training and developed a business plan could access a ‘welcome back’ grant to help them reinvigorate following the lockdown. Through the grant scheme we enabled over 50 businesses to receive £800,000 in grant funding.

The Results:

An empowered business community

Our strategy to empower high street businesses and build resilience worked. The training we delivered to 200 businesses generated fantastic feedback, and enabled them to innovate, develop their own digital strategies, and feed in to the local community’s digital ecosystem. We enabled over 50 businesses to access £800,000 in grant funding, whilst ensuring their strategies and plans were in good shape.

Our networking events were attended by 90 people sharing best practice and making plans to collaborate with each other. During our engagement 25 new shops opened in Windsor and five in Maidenhead, joining the now thriving and welcoming local business network. Our support enabled businesses to connect with the wider community, their customers, and community leaders, bringing them together to champion their high street. View all business testimonials here.

People say…

“The Lunch and Learn Sessions were invaluable to me this week. I attended all five and was buzzing after the first session with all the help and information I was absorbing. Kathy is a great host, clear, extremely knowledgeable, and helpful, and in many cases going above and beyond her remit. As a small independent business within the Borough I now feel like I am part of a network and not alone.”

Attendee – Lunch and Learn Session

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