How RelyLocal Began: Coffee (and an idea)
RelyLocal began when two complete strangers; a bankrupt real estate developer and an out-of-work non profit executive, got together for coffee after one posted a message to an online message board, "Partner Needed - I have an idea..." Within an hour of meeting, the original idea evolved exponentially. Within a week, a business model and test market had been launched. Within the first year, over 120 RelyLocal territories had launched across the country, creating over 335 new jobs, and supporting tens of thousands of local businesses.
The moral of the story? Amazing things can happen when two people come together to solve a common problem.
The common question, "What is RelyLocal ?" is actually pretty difficult to answer. Some consider RelyLocal a powerful movement, restoring local communities from the ground up. Others see us as a replacement to ineffective traditional advertising. However, at the national level, we are merely a software developer. Well, a software developer with one big goal...
Overall Goal: Rebuild the U.S. Economy
This might sound like an insanely lofty goal for a little startup from Central Oregon. Yet, there it is.
While it may seem lofty, we feel that our guiding principles are sound: The national economy depends heavily on the health of local economies, and the local economy depends on the health of the local businesses. Local businesses not only contribute to the local economy, but are the foundation of a healthy community overall. As as a result, the paths to our goal became much more simple - develop strategies to support local businesses (across the country).
Strategy 1: Develop New Solutions to Support Local Businesses
If you are a small business owner, you understand the challenges related to finding and retaining customers. It doesn't matter if you own a restaurant, a law firm, or a one-man roofing company - if people can't find you, you won't be successful. The biggest problems have always been cost and effectiveness. With most billboards costing thousands of dollars, and most print directories ending up in landfills, it's no wonder that many established local businesses have given up on "traditional" marketing, while many new businesses have no idea where to start.
That's where we come in. With a tiny budget, a business can gain a bigger online presence, improved visibility in search engines, local coupon marketing, and local social media marketing - not to mention access to special co-op advertising opportunities and uniquely local programs in many communities!
Strategy 2: Create Local Campaigns to Revitalize Local Communities
It's not just about a web presence, or coupons, or stickers in the window. There are many catchy slogans and brands out there that a local business can be a part of. Aside from being locally owned and operated, what makes RelyLocal different is the unique approach to long-term partnerships we create with our members. The success of that campaign isn't about how high a site ranks in Google, it is about how much the community gets involved. We put gas in the car and hand over the keys, but the magic happens at the local level.
Strategy 3: Put America Back To Work
One of our first goals was to create, promote, and protect as many good local jobs as possible across the country. It's working!!! From the new territory owners and the teams they employ, we helped to create about 330 new jobs in 2010 alone. When you think about what RelyLocal is doing to keep local businesses in business, you'll better understand how one of the by-products is to save as many existing local jobs as possible, while stimulating new business growth in order to help create even more new jobs. This all relates back to the local and national economy.
Why It Works
Every community is different! Rather than hiring a bunch of advertising sales people to walk door-to-door, trying to schlep yet another online advertising product or here-today-gone-tomorrow slogan, we developed RelyLocal as a truly unique Open Source Business Model. The beauty (and effectiveness) of RelyLocal has very little to do with anything we do at the national level, but everything to do with what our amazing local partners are doing on the ground. With each territory that is launched, RelyLocal only grows that much stronger through the amazing talents and ideas of our community of partners. Get in touch with your local RelyLocal team to find out what special programs and services they have cooked up to help rebuild your community.