A Cash Mob is an idea that originated in America in order to support local independent retailers, to make sure they can survive the competition against bigger chain stores and ride out the recession.
The first time I heard about a cash mob, was on Twitter and it was held in Harringey Market. The event was tweeted and facebooked about, beforehand and everyone knew that there would be a Cash Mob at the market. The Enfield Cash Mobs, that I've been organising have been inspired by this, with my own little twist added. I like to keep the number to around ten and make sure that the business owner has no idea that this is going to happen, until it happens and that means I can't tell the mobbers where it's going to be until the last minute! That's why we call it a SHOCK Cash mob and it's very exciting indeed.
This way of doing it creates a real buzz and people, really want to find out where it is and what happened, even if they can't go themselves and they interact with posts and tweets and raise the profile of the idea, even more.
The other twist, is that as I'm an independent food business owner, that's what interests me, so I have concentrated on local, independent food businesses. You of course, can choose any kind of local independent business that you want.
10 Steps to Organising a SHOCK Cash Mob!
1/Choose A Shop...
It needs to be a little independent shop. I have chosen the shops so far very spontaneously as a reaction to various events. The Village Health Food Store, was chosen because of a conversation on Twitter, where a pregnant lady was asking where she could get hold of some raspberry leaf tea and everyone was mentioning chain stores but no one mentioned The Village Health Food Store. I arranged a SHOCK Cash Mob and invited that pregnant lady. 10 people mobbed the store, including the pregnant lady who did indeed get her raspberry leaf tea, as well as other items.
2/Create an Event...
The easiest way for me to get people together is to create the cash mob as an event on Facebook and then to invite people along to it. Some of your friends won't be on Facebook though and you can talk to them face to face or just text them. If like me you choose to keep it to just ten people, you should achieve that target without too much fuss and yet know that even with that small number you can make a big difference to that independent retailer's day and takings!
3/ Use Social Media...
Use all available avenues at your disposal to talk about the event and spread the word about your campaign.If you're on Twitter, or Instagram, use relevant hash tags, such as #CashMob and then also hash tag the name of your area. I always hash tag Enfield, so that when people search for it, it comes up!
4/ Keep Interest Up...
Keep referring to the Cash Mob in your social media updates and get people excited about your campaign. Did you know that every time you post an update under your Facebook event, everyone invited gets notified about your post? It's a great way to raise awareness and even if people can't make that event, they will enjoy following the story and finding out which business was SHOCK Cash Mobbed and will really want to coma along to the next one.
5/ Notify the Press...
You might wonder why the press would be interested in your story but if you don't tell them about it, they won't know about it and won't be able to make a judgement about whether they would like to cover it or not. You don't need to do a long passionate press release, just a quick telephone call or text should be ok. A Cash Mob is a very grass-roots type of campaign, just tell them a quick explanation of why you are doing it and the time and date it will take place. If you are very lucky they might send a photographer down and then give you an interview too, however sometimes if you take your own photos and they are any good they could use those. So don't get despondent, if they can't come, make sure you take your own photos and use them on your own blog and on guest blogs and anywhere else you can think of, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, to name a few.
6/ Check out the business before-hand
The first three businesses that we cash mobbed, I knew, from being a customer the one we mobbed today, Freckles and Cakes, I only knew from fabulous pictures and posts on Facebook, some of the pictures were instant drool inducers!
It was only as I was leading the 'Mob' from our meeting place to Freckles and Cakes, in Enfield Town Market, that suddenly my heart was thumping and bumping with nerves, I had not been to visit this business in person before, it could be awful in real life, the lady running it could be rude, or off-hand, or anything!
Fortunately, as we arrived and I saw the beautiful cakes on display and the look of surprise, shock and joy, all at once on Astrid Becker's Face, I knew that once again, this was a fantastic little known business that needed shouting about and needed the community to support it. Please don't put yourself through that worry, check it out first!
7/ Send Reminders...
Really, really important to send people a personal text or facebook message and communicate with them as an individual, the night before the cash mob, so they feel a real responsibility for turning up and don't let you down. Sometimes it's easy to say 'Join' for Facebook events and then not turn up because you feel almost anonymous, it's harder to stay in bed, or get distracted and just not turn up, when you've been having conversations about it, beforehand.
It's important to keep things fresh, exciting and dynamic. For instance, when we cash mobbed Ma Battley's, we arranged for North London Brass, to stand outside the shop and play. It was great fun, lent a real sense of occasion to the proceedings and really suited the character of the shop to have some jolly tunes playing, whilst we choose our goodies and sweets and two papers turned up for that one, which was a great result for Ma Battley's.
You've arranged your meeting place at a local, well-known landmark, like a fountain, or outside a pub, or something like that. Don't leave that spot until about 5 to 10 minutes later, just to make sure that those running a little late, get the chance to meet up too. Also, before the day make sure that participants have your mobile number, so that they can text you if they are not going to make it in good time, you can then text them the address of the Cash Mob and you are actually there doing it, so they can catch up but there's no risk of divulging the possibility of a cash mob, to the business owner.
A good cash mob has a real feeling of happiness and pleasure about it. You have chosen a shop, that you might not necessarily normally visit and you might not find anything to buy for yourself but you'll surely find something to give as a gift to a friend, or family member. So, the love just goes on. When we cash mobbed Holtwhites Bakery, I ended up buying salami and rolls for my partner, with biscuits for my children and lots of gorgeous olives for myself.
So, there you go! A simple way to make a big difference. The shops that have been mobbed so far have enjoyed, new customers, more cash in their till at the end of their day, a raised profile for their business online and in print and very importantly, a real morale boost.
Hope you feel inspired to arrange your very own cash mobs and help your locality to change their spending habits!
If you live in Enfield and want to know when the next cash mob is, you can find out, here.