If any of you know me, you know that I’ve been mobilizing ideas and brands for the last 10 years… obsessively and relentlessly. From launching a local nonprofit bike ride for clean water to growing a membership group in Des Moines from 5 to 500 members in a little over a year, I spent my 20s experimenting and testing and having fun in a local market.
After a life-changing bike ride cross-country in 2012, I came back to Des Moines committed to bringing new ideas, disrupting the way things “are always done” and contributing in BIG ways both monetarily and with my other resources (mostly unending enthusiasm lol). I didn’t know what it looked like for 22-year-old me to make a difference, so I found “problems” and “gaps” in the market and tried to understand how to fill them in unique ways.
It was 2015 that led to my then and now pursuit of supporting the local economy.
I was working in community development, revitalizing three east-side neighborhoods and partnering with dozens of individuals and businesses to secure millions of dollars for neighborhood projects ranging from housing development to community gardens to pop-up events, that I realized how much I *LOVE* everything about neighborhoods and cities and community. I was seeing pockets of neighborhoods that were thriving because there were really great restaurants and other experiences people could drive or walk to.
The businesses were intentionally and many times unintentionally building an unforgettable, desirable neighborhood experience that made people want to live there, work there, or play there.
I wanted to be a part of it, but definitely did not want to be in economic development or city planning or anything remotely bureaucratic. So what was my next move? I asked my community what they wanted. My ideas ranged from a female co-working space to an annual event for local business owners. As ideas were percolating, the opportunity arrived in my inbox to re-brand and mobilize an existing community group called FemCity Des Moines in the winter of 2016.
Taking that brand to new levels required dozens of weekly conversations with women in business, asking questions about how we could support them, what Des Moines needed to do to improve local business owners’ success, and everything in-between. It was the most challenging and rewarding experience I’ve ever been a part of and helped crystalize my unique gift to create momentum around community-based brands and ideas.
After I left a marketing agency in June 2018, I reached out to a handful of trusted friends and professional peers to share my new journey as a “marketing freelancer” (I literally had no idea what to call myself), with a laser focus on helping business owners build a remarkable digital experience and strong personal brand. My client roster went from one business to 15 businesses in just a few months and nearly all of my energy went to supporting their success.
I built “Emily Ann LLC” quickly and without a lot of thought-out intention, hence the very creative business name. I didn’t create a roadmap for myself or plan this in advance in any way because I needed to get myself out there and start creating revenue for the company. There was no logo creation, no branding, no specific “offer” that I was selling. If I could have thought through the business brand more, I certainly would have but I didn’t have the luxury of figuring it out; it was go time June 1, 2018.
We’re nearly 1.5 years out from June 2018 and I’ve been able to work with dozens of local and national brands and support hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals on their personal and professional path to creating success.
Today, I have more clarity than ever before that my purpose on this planet right here and right now is to continue supporting the local business community and to equip business owners to build irresistible brands and experiences that create loyalty, amazing revenue, and even better word of mouth.
Hear me loud and clear: There is so much marketing advice out there that simply isn’t relevant to local businesses. Being local takes a completely different approach to how you use social media, how you position yourself, and how you build community.
Sure you can optimize your website’s SEO and spend endless dollars on print or TV ads, but there are far more effective and cheaper tactics that will allow you to build momentum more quickly with far less energy and resources required. But if you don’t know that, you will continue spending time and money on services and products that won’t build trust, sales, or ROI like you desire.
This site, this brand, this community is for the local business owner. It’s for the woman who is just getting started and needs some ideas on how to collaborate with her new business neighbors. It’s for the guy who is 10 years in and is seeing sales stalling and wondering how to use social media without spamming people. It’s for the dynamic duo who wants to create educational opportunities to empower their community at their retail store. It’s for every single individual who is operating in a local community and is growth-minded.
Love local is where you can come to hear how others are crushing it, it’s where you can download free worksheets and buy workbooks to help you gain clarity. It’s where you can explore more robust services my team offers if and when the timing is right to outsource.
It’s about supporting you in a holistic way so your business can flourish and become a legacy brand, a go-to staple in your community.
Since some of you know me quite well, I imagine you’re thinking… “but what about Brand Launch?” I’m so glad you asked! Brand Launch is another company I co-own with my best friend focusing on two key services: online education for personal branding and our specific hummingbird services that match local community builders and influencers with brands. All of this work is complementary to love local and will continue for years to come.
Welcome to this creative space that is designed to support you. This is truly only the beginning and if you want to learn something or have ideas or need support, drop us a note here or join our Facebook Group and let’s create a commitment to ourselves and one another to build a robust local marketplace for everyone to enjoy.
My name is Emily Steele and I teach local business owners how to be the legends they are and build an irresistible and profitable local brand.