With more than 20 years of experience as manager of Camberwell Centre Association, Kerry Daly shares what makes this traders’ precinct successful.
With more than 20 years of experience in her role, Kerry Daly, manager of Camberwell Centre Association (CCA), knows a thing or two about what makes a traders’ precinct tick.
And she has certainly seen a lot of change over the past two decades – from observing the changing retail landscape, to shifting the way the precinct is marketed, to being nimble and adapting to the ever-changing pace of business operations.
Working with the CCA traders committee in her role as manager, a position she has maintained since 1998, Ms Daly is responsible for forming business plans, managing an annual calendar of marketing activities, engaging with marketing professionals to undertake promotional activities, liaising with and representing traders, and securing external funding for business support and wider projects.
Here, Ms Daly shares some insights into the operation of the CCA, how the association works with other local organisations, and how marketing activities have evolved over the years.
Describe how your levied association works
The CCA represents the business operators within the Camberwell shopping and business precinct, which incorporates Camberwell Junction, Burke Rd, and its immediate surrounds.
It is a large precinct, of approximately 700 businesses, with a mix of traders including retail, hospitality, and professional services.
Since 1996, the CCA has operated a centre-coordinated marketing and business development program funded by a special rate, to which all properties in the centre contribute.
The rate is applied in zones: primary ground and first floor and periphery ground and first floor are charged at different rates, and there is a secondary zone that incorporates mostly professional service offices which is charged at a nominal fixed rate.
The levy program allows us to invest in the future of our centre though various marketing activities that brand and promote the precinct to the public and draw people to the area for their shopping and leisure needs, as well as a range of business support measures. The scope of marketing activity includes a program of advertising, events, a sophisticated online presence for the precinct, and platforms for shared marketing opportunities for businesses.
The CCA’s program follows the best practice approach among the 66 main street centres in Victoria that run similar programs, as well as the thousands of overseas centres that operate in this way under the Business Improvement Area (BID) model.
What is the tenancy mix of traders and the demographics of Camberwell shoppers?
With approximately 700 businesses located within the levied area, the Camberwell shopping and business precinct is one of Melbourne’s largest.
The tenancy mix covers a broad range of retail categories, a strong hospitality sector, and an increasing lifestyle and family services sector. About one third of the tenancy mix is professional services, such as accountants, lawyers, bankers, and medical services.
As well as the independent and small boutiques, Camberwell Junction has many of the national chains, plus three supermarkets, a discount department store, fresh produce market, shopping mall and cinema.
Our core demographics have changed over the years as the neighbourhood has developed – large plots are being sold off and more apartments have been built close the junction. So, our age group has shifted from older, mature residents to more young professional couples and families spanning diverse ethnicities.
What is the CCA’s marketing budget? Do you receive additional income?
As a large precinct, the CCA has a substantial budget. Typically, this has come in at an average of $600,000 per year. However, in preparing the recent levy renewal the rate was reduced to help businesses better cope in the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic and currently sits at an annual budget of $520,000.
To source additional income for the precinct, the CCA runs a range of ticketed events, offers advertising through its owned media channels, and actively seeks out and secures grant funding.
In recent years, the CCA has secured more than $220,000 in grants for CCTV installation and business support activities, including grants made available thanks to Mainstreet Australia.
How has the CCA’s marketing evolved over the years?
The CCA uses a range of marketing and promotional activities to brand and promote the Camberwell precinct and highlight its individual traders.
This includes a mix of major seasonal campaigns for key retail periods and major categories, as well as complementary promotions. Maintaining a strong digital presence, including a state-of-the-art website, has become increasingly important and is a major focus for our current marketing.
The camberwellshopping.com.au website functions as a digital hub for the community and features all of our marketing activities. It includes our latest campaigns, community news, an integrated traders’ directory, trader offers and sales, and ‘Meet a Trader’ stories that profile individual business operators. We use our other digital resources, such as social media, SEO focused articles, and dedicated microsites that promote individual campaigns to draw people to our core website. We run regular competitions to encourage subscribers, and we can then market directly to this engaged audience via monthly email newsletters.
The CCA runs a schedule of community events and activations each year. This includes an annual Christmas Family Day, CamberWELL-BEING to promote the health and wellness sector, Camberwell on Canvas art show exclusively for the Burke Hill periphery, and an annual food and dining promotion to highlight the hospitality sector.
In early 2018, the CCA launched The Camberwell Citizen, a bespoke print newspaper that focuses on lifestyle stories and local news, with a concentration on the local area. This allows us to have a voice in the area, as other local newspapers dwindled and ceased publication.
Event and branded advertising is also covered via traditional media such as print (newspapers and magazines), radio, direct mail and letterbox drops.
The shift to digital mediums for our marketing activities has been significant over the past decade, particularly as traditional media shrinks. Having a robust digital platform meant the CCA were well placed to support traders and communicate to the community during the disruption due to lockdowns. The traders can be supported directly, especially as many still don’t have the resources to create and manage their own digital platforms. Digital marketing activities also offer us the most cost-effective way to promote the precinct.
While digital marketing forms a huge focus for the CCA’s marketing efforts nowadays, it is still important to have a mix of marketing activities.
How does CCA work with council and local community groups?
In representing the CCA, we work very closely with Boroondara Council to stay up to date on council-led initiatives and any cross-promotional opportunities for local businesses. We also advocate on behalf of businesses in relation to matters like parking, rubbish, infrastructure, and other relevant policies. The CCA contributes 50/50 for a graffiti removal arrangement to keep the precinct and business premises looking respectable.
The CCA collaborates with local community groups and organisations to leverage mutually beneficial partnerships and promotional opportunities. Over the years, this has included partnering with local schools, working with charities to support fundraising efforts, and connecting with organisations like the Camberwell Community Centre for cross-promotion.
The CCA also works closely with Balwyn Rotary, with a shared marketing fund designed to cross-promote the Rotary Camberwell Sunday Market and the wider Camberwell shopping precinct.
What is something you do differently to other centre managers?
Prior to joining the CCA, my professional background was in shopping centre management, managing smaller local centres as well as major city developments. I enjoyed working with retailers at all levels which has been helpful in understanding the different ways to communicate with independent versus national chain retailers.
It was easier to promote one shopping mall and be able to influence its look and feel, which is so much harder to do in a strip centre with so many diverse operators and little control over the environment or other crucial ingredients of a marketing mix. However, the approach to brand the precinct collectively still works and can help traders come together under a common banner and direction, while still finding ways to showcase their individuality. After all, that’s what makes our precincts so special compared to the impersonal uniformity of shopping malls.
Trade secrets: What’s one thing that makes CCA marketing campaigns successful?
While there isn’t a single marketing activity that the CCA carries out that leads to success, the one thing we feel is important is to have design consistency across our campaigns.
The CCA recognised early on that there was value in engaging a marketing agency (we use Assemblo) to ensure a professional standard of our marketing, across every touch point. It can give you access to a team of creative professionals to help support the precinct manager or coordinator, and not just rely on a volunteer committee for extra manpower.
Now we have a cohesive look and feel across our artwork and marketing collateral, our written materials follow a copy style guide, and we stick to a strategy that helps us work towards achieving our business objectives.
We can also tap into the skills of the agency to ensure our website works well from a technical perspective and that our digital content is SEO-driven to attract people looking for us via search engines.
This integrated approach is what makes the CCA’s marketing campaigns successful. Our mix of marketing, advertising, and digital communications all work together to achieve an effective outcome.
Engaging a marketing agency has allowed the CCA to benefit from a level of expertise to keep pace as the marketplace evolves; it has set a professional standard across all of our activities and provides additional resources and support to the committee.