The following post is a guest blog written by my friend Frank De Raffele (pictured at right below). It does focus on America; however, I’m willing to bet that it will get you thinking about localism in you own place of residence, no matter what area of the world you live in.
“Localism Is the New Patriotism” by Frank De Raffele
Did you know that in 2010 the American people said that they trusted the small business owner over 13 other institutions? According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of those surveyed said that they trusted small business. Only 22% trusted banks & financial institutions and 24% trusted Congress (well no surprise for those two). Large Corporations and the Federal Government were tied with only 25% of the people trusting them. This is interesting; another tie between Federal Government Agencies and National News Media at 31%. Hmmmm. Does that mean people think the News Media and “certain” government agencies are in bed together? I wonder. 32% trusted Labor Unions and 33% trusted the Entertainment Industry. (Those poor innocent actors.) Here is one that is not just surprising but shocking and about to cause a stir of controversy among you and your friends, family and co-workers: 45% trust the Obama Administration! (I am anti-political so this is not a judgment just an observational comment.) Our beloved Colleges and Universities, 61% had trust in them. Church and Religious organizations came in third at 63%. What was above them you ask? Technology companies at 68% and YOU the Small Business Owner at 71%. Imagine that, you are now more popular than God! Didn’t a Rock Band once say that about 40 years ago? Don’t let your ego get too big and start increasing prices by 20%. We don’t love you that much. Makes you think though. When people are shopping (at least in 2010) were they saying, “Hmm, a sweater or Jesus? Shoes or Jesus?” I wonder? Now, before you start sending me hate mail, you do know I am joking about the whole being more popular than God and deciding between Jesus and a good pair of shoes, don’t you? But…..a nice car?
On a more serious note, this is great news. It means that with all that has gone on in the last couple of years, that we the consumers believe in our local business owners. It shows that people understand that Localism is a key to our success as a community, a region and a nation. As a capitalist, entrepreneurial society, the support of our local small business entrepreneurs is of the utmost importance.
The question is, why? Why do you think that the American people trust the small business owner over almost every other institution including: Police, Educational Institutions, Religious Institutions and the Media? Because your local. Because you are one of them. Because they know you, trust you and like you. We the American People understand that supporting each other is the key to our success. Our country cannot exist with a selfish mentality. We understand, now more so than ever, that we must give to each other. We must support each other. And from a monetary standpoint, that begins with buying locally. Supporting our local small business entrepreneur. Therefore, if I really love this country the best way to show my patriotism (besides being one of our troops, God Bless Them) is by shopping in my locally owned business.
As a small business owner, what does this mean to you? Now that you know this, how do you capitalize on it? Keep up your marketing, but more importantly get yourself out in front of your local neighbors. Make sure you are involved in the Chamber of Commerce, Lions or Rotary or Kiwanis. Volunteer for local charities or get on boards, be a member of BNI. The more people know you, trust you , like you, the more they will want to give their money to you versus someone else. YOU don’t need to tell them to buy local. You need to show them that you are local. Let them see you out participating, helping and making a difference. Show that you live locally and that your kids go to school here. Hire locals to work with you. The more invested they see that you are in the community the more they trust you. The more “you the business owner” becomes one of us, the local people who need to spend our money wisely.
No, you’re not bigger than God or The Beatles. But you are important to us, your neighbors. I want to know that you respect my money. I work hard for it, very hard. I don’t mind spending it, but I HATE giving it to businesses that don’t respect it. I will not buy just based on price, I will purchase based on the value you show me. If it costs a little more from you versus the “Big Guy” down the street, I will spend with you, if you show me the value.
Localism being the New Patriotism is great news for all of us. But as the business owner you now have a greater responsibility to prove yourself to your customers, not less. We are putting our trust in you and supporting you; Don’t Blow It! If you take advantage of me, I will not only never do business with you again….I will make sure all I know and some I don’t, never do business with you as well.
We are Patriotic. We are Loyal. We are Committed. But we won’t be taken advantage of. America is an amazing place with amazing people. People that are full of positivity, dreams and cheering for the underdog. In the last couple of years we have been the underdog and we have been cheering hard and working harder. We are clawing our way back and we will be better than ever before. Let’s continue our new form of Patriotism by being stronger and stronger supporters of our local businesses. In this case especially, when one wins, we all win!