For this client spotlight, we’re getting to know more about Richmond Information Centre and how Rishi Sunak participated in the launch of their latest publication, the Swaledale book.
Tell us about your book and Richmond Information Centre! What’s your mission and or your story?
Richmond Information Centre is a volunteer-run service for residents and visitors to our fabulous town. We are based in the old Victorian Market Hall which is centrally located in Richmond Market Place.
Our 40 volunteers keep the Centre open throughout the year, every day, from 10 m – 4pm, with a slightly reduced set of hours in the winter. We maintain a website that offers all kinds of information from bus timetables to places to dine or spend a couple of nights while on holiday. We see ourselves as being ambassadors for Richmond and take pride in offering a personable introduction to our town and the Dales. Around 1,000 people visit us each week!
In order to ‘pay for our keep’, as a not-for-profit social enterprise, besides offering advice, we sell books and maps of the local area as well as items like postcards and mugs. However, the main source of income for the Centre is a series of local books that we have published. Previously we produced a couple of very popular walking guides as well as a guide to Richmond.
The latest title we have produced is on Swaledale, which is arguably the most beautiful of the Yorkshire Dales… Well, we think so anyway! To help us with this book, we enlisted the Editor of Richmondshire Today, an online and in-print local news service. The author, Joe Willis, is very well known and his writing is greatly admired with photos for the book coming from local photographers.
To help underwrite the cost of this publication, we received a grant from the Yorkshire Dales National Park and donations from other local businesses as well as Zetland Estates. This has meant that we have been able to keep the cover price of the book very low for the first print run.
What is your main challenge and how have you overcome them?
Our main challenge is to continually think of ways to improve the range of services that we provide to the public. The organisation also tries to play to the individual strengths of our group members. The volunteers share the skills they have which in theory means that the whole operation is more resilient than many volunteer-run groups.
We have a Management Committee that meets monthly to exchange ideas and deal with any issues that arise in the course of running the Centre.
We have a great intranet system too, so that all volunteers can see what’s been happening day-to-day at home or on their phones. WhatsApp has also been really useful to us so that when a volunteer can’t do a shift they were assigned to do, the information can be shared with everyone else in the hopes that another volunteer can fill the gap.
What advice would you give to businesses like yours?
Always set your standards high and demonstrate through deeds, your willingness to be helpful to those we serve and to each other.
Which print products have you found marketing success with?
As noted above, our own publications that we sell have been a big hit. We also produce a printed A5 booklet every two months that tells people What’s On in Richmond. These are very popular and we distribute them via shops, guesthouses and other attractions in the area,
We have also produced a Parking Leaflet that explains how the parking regime works in town, a food guide called Eat Richmond, a leaflet that promotes the free guided town walks that we offer etc.
We love print and even though many people rely a lot on their phones these days they still are receptive to receiving local knowledge in print a print format.
How do you make your customers feel special and understood?
A little bit of kindness really goes a long way. Facilities like Richmond Information Centre are increasingly rare because local government authorities, who used to fund them have almost completely pulled out due to funding cuts.
Those of us who live in Richmond feel privileged to be here and are happy to share our knowledge of the area with anyone who calls into the Centre.
We get told all the time, ‘how rare we are’ and also how much people have enjoyed visiting us. That makes the volunteers feel that the service is worthwhile. We also hope it encourages people to make return visits or tell friends about what an amazing place Richmond is.
What are your top print tips for other creators or businesses in your industry?
Print should remain an essential part of the marketing mix for all businesses.
Although we use it in a pretty conventional way, the potential for creating impactful statements via print is ceaseless.
Why did you choose to print with instantprint?
Because we have to keep a careful eye on budgets, pricing is often the key determining factor in who gets our print business.
instantprint is very competitive, and the standard of service is excellent.
Why do you use print marketing as well as digital marketing?
Digital marketing is important and can be very cost-effective, but it is generally quite a fleeting experience for users. Sometimes, that’s all you need to make a decision, but print has a potentially longer lifespan. When people are on the move and see an attractively printed leaflet, this can create a bit more interest and hopefully be referred to more than once.
Do you have any other socials for us to follow?
We do have a Facebook page but other than that, we are wed to this form of media promotion!
Please tell us more about your time with the Prime Minister!
Rishi Sunak has been the constituency MP for Richmondshire since 2015 and he is very active throughout the district. He enjoys getting out and meeting his constituents and keeping abreast of what’s going on.
This is what prompted his visit to the Richmond Information Centre on 27th October, so that he could participate in the launch of the Swaledale book, our latest publication and meet some of our volunteers.
He was curious to learn a bit about how the publication came together and was impressed enough with our books to buy one of each while he was with us.
Copies of Swaledale: An insider’s guide is available from Richmond Information Centre, shops throughout Richmond and Swaledale or online from www.richmondinfo.net/shop
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