How Local Businesses Can Beat the Big Boys at their Own Game

Totally Locally // UK

Phil Markham [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Big corporations — no matter what they’re selling — put a staggering amount of time and money into advertising. Chris Sands, an award-winning designer, marketeer and branding expert, understood that this advertising assault gives corporate products a presence in peoples’ minds, and a leg up over their smaller more localized competitors. This led Sands to start Totally Locally in his home region of Calderdale, Yorkshire. Totally Locally’s website explains: “We love our independent shops and businesses, and realised that the competition from the big multi-nationals was killing our high streets … We realised that what is missing from most small businesses and towns is a structured branding and marketing approach (sorry this is sounding a bit corporate but bear with us), something that everyone can get their teeth into … We get excited that we could possibly make a big impact on the towns of the UK by being a bit clever, working with great people who care and playing the big boys at their own game.”

Totally Locally offers a toolkit designed to help towns market their local businesses. The fact that the businesses are small and local is the draw — it’s the ‘brand’, so to speak. Any town can apply to use the toolkit, which walks users through the whole process — from taking the right kind of promotional photo, to setting up a website and social media accounts, to hosting launch events and talking with the press. The kit is available for free, but Totally Locally does ask for donations from those who can afford them. They explain, “We work on the economics of being nice. Help each other in every way you can. That way we all thrive.”

Each Totally Locally branding campaign is built around three core messages — “The £5 Message,” “The Magic Tenner” and “Hidden Gems.”

Courtesy of Totally Locally

The £5 Message is simply this: “Just switch £5 or $5 or €5 of your weekly shopping from chain stores, supermarkets or online to an independent business in your town.” People have a tendency to get overwhelmed, to think that if they can’t only shop locally they may as well not try at all ­– that spending £5 less at Tesco or Walmart isn’t going to affect those businesses at all. That may be true. But if every adult in a town of 10,000 makes the £5 commitment, that’s £2.4 million more going to small local businesses every year. And for small local businesses £2.4 million is a meaningful amount.

The “Magic Tenner Message” encourages local businesses to shop locally themselves — to use local suppliers, lawyers, banks, and more. The business can then state: ‘When you Shop Here, You Support Another XXX Businesses Who Supply & Work With Us.’ Like the £5 Message, “It shows exactly how shopping locally can make a big difference on a local economy, even when you spend a small amount.”

The £5 Message and The Magic Tenner have proven very popular with shoppers. Shoppers also love “Hidden Gems” — the unique local businesses that make a town different from any other. Keeping those Hidden Gems alive seems to be the real driving force behind all of Totally Locally’s work: “Totally Locally was created, and continues with passion, to celebrate the fantastic shops, businesses and people that we have in our local areas. … the Hidden Gems in our towns that make the place that little bit different, that little bit more colourful, and that little bit better to live in.”

Visit the Totally Locally website for tips on promoting your own business, or your own local economy. Among the free downloads available are the cleverly designed posters, “Declaration of Independents” and “The Totally Locally Manifesto.” And don’t forget to watch Tale of a Tenner!

Courtesy of Totally Locally