MInext Campaign Promotes Island Businesses by Telling Owners’ Stories

December 15, 2020 | by Scott Strandberg

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Image courtesy MInext

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a significant strain on small businesses all around the world, and local Mercer Island businesses are no exception. The pandemic has flipped many aspects of daily life upside down, and too many small businesses are wondering how they will keep the lights on.

That’s why the City of Mercer Island and the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce recently announced the MInext initiative, which aims to help promote Mercer Island businesses through grant-funded marketing campaigns. The program launched in November and will last into 2021.

MInext provides outreach and marketing services free of charge to island businesses. Their full-scale efforts include cross-promotion through the City of Mercer Island and the Chamber of Commerce’s websites, newsletters, and social media accounts. Participating businesses also receive local and off-island advertising and social media campaigns, free downloadable collateral, and other resources.

Laurent Bourscheidt and Suzanne Zahr — the creative director and strategists behind MInext — said that the initiative will help Mercer Island businesses take islanders “behind the masks” to tell the business owners’ human stories. By learning more about these businesses, Mercer Island residents will be encouraged to provide support to locally owned and operated companies during this time of need.

The MInext initiative includes a new website — www.mercerislandnext.com — which features stories about a wide variety of Mercer Island businesses, from restaurants and retail to professional services and wellness providers. Clicking on any featured business will take you to a Q&A-style interview where the owners can tell you about their companies first-hand.

So far, the MInext website profiles more than 20 local entrepreneurs, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for MInext. The program’s website also includes valuable coupons with significant discounts at featured businesses, including one month of unlimited virtual yoga and meditation from Yogabliss, $20 off at Sano Cafe, a free bottle of wine at L’Experience Paris, and much more.

Additionally, MInext includes an events calendar showcasing a variety of occasions, from farmers markets to the annual Town Center Christmas tree lot. The initiative’s website has a news section where you can keep up with all the latest MInext developments, as well as a link to the Mercer Island Business Directory.

The MInext program provides business owners with window displays to help them serve as MInext brand ambassadors and expand the initiative’s visibility. However, other than the option to provide discounts or other promotions, MInext is not asking any businesses for financial contributions.

Through a press release, Bourscheidt and Zahr shared their vision for MInext, saying “over the past few months, small businesses have been forced to adapt and sometimes rethink their entire plans. We thought bringing forward the human aspect, featuring the owners ‘behind the masks’ and telling their stories was key to re-engage the community and business owners.”

Funding for MInext’s grants is provided by King County and the Port of Seattle. Bourscheidt and Zahr are also investing their own efforts into the program, as Bourscheidt’s L+B Design and Zahr’s Suzanne Zahr Art & Architecture are providing MInext’s branding and marketing services.

What can Mercer Island community members do to help MInext? First and foremost, shopping small and local is the most important step, but islanders can support this initiative without their wallets as well. MInext organizers are urging community members to get to know the people behind local Mercer Island businesses and engage with the program by tagging social media posts with the hashtag #MInext.

In addition to the MInext website, islanders can get involved with the initiative by visiting its Facebook and Instagram pages, which both use the handle @MercerIslandNext. MInext also recently launched a YouTube account with a video about L’Experience Paris, featuring an interview with executive chef and founder Julien Hervet.

As 2021 approaches and the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, creative solutions are necessary to keep local Mercer Island small businesses surviving and thriving. Thanks to the MInext initiative, island entrepreneurs have a comprehensive support system to help them guide their businesses through whatever comes next.

Learn more at mercerislandnext.com.