Market Rasen’s Top Tips for a Winning Portas Pilot bid

We’re well aware that many other towns are submitting a bid for Portas Pilot Round 2, with a deadline of June 30th. A few have approached us to ask what we think made our bid successful, so we’ve been putting together a list. We thought it made a lot of sense to put the list on this blog, so everyone can take a look.

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We’ve asked the people on our town team who spent the most time on the bid to tell us what they think made Market Rasen stand out from the rest and win the funding. This is what they said:

  1. Get the issues and intel straight from the horses mouth – engage early, listen carefully, think hard. Get out and about and speak to people. Gather thoughts, share experiences, develop visions together and bounce ideas around. Communicate like crazy – with stakeholders, with the world, with anyone that will listen.
  2. Push for big ideas – don’t be satisfied with little beans, grow them into monster beanstalks.

    Our very successful Pop Up Market, put on before we’d won to show our potential

  3. Be cheeky. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Ask the great and the good in your town to help. Approach the big brand names in your town with a definite request.
  4. Have the courage of your convictions – be prepared to pursue your plans with or without Portas funds.
  5. Take a zero tolerance policy on ‘can’t because’ – make your ethos and style all about ‘can if’ and amazing things will happen.
  6. Don’t sit around having meetings – just get on and make things happen. Put on events in the heart of your high street that people want to come to and grab media attention
  7. PR everything  like mad – build a super close relationship with your local paper and get on first name terms with all your region’s radio, TV and print journalists.
  8. Set up a Google News Alerts for “Portas Pilot” so you don’t miss any news articles on the competition.

    Get friendly with your local & regional press, papers, radio & TV. Give them strong stories, often.

  9. Search Twitter on the terms #PortasPilot and “Portas Pilot” (every day if you can), to keep on top of the latest buzz.  Also search for Twitter for tweets on your home town and county, so you can follow and engage with other Twitter users that are local and influential. Click here to see what people are saying about #PortasPilot on Twitter now!
  10. Social media is essential to promote your bid and engage with all stakeholders in your community, especially people that don’t normally come to town meetings. Twitter in particular is vital to reach beyond your area and engage with other Town Teams and many brilliant, inspiring people who can help. Choose the platform that’s right for you – Twitter, Facebook and a blog are (we feel) givens, but we also used Instagram (to share great photos) because we live in such a pretty and historic part of Britain. See more on how to do this here: Instagrammers are your friends.  See all the images gathered at our Pop Up Market “Instameet” (Lincolnshire’s first) here: #PopGoesRasen on Instagram.

    We regularly ask local Instagram photographers to upload images to our #tags to promote the town online

  11. Embrace all your local skill sets – put the call out – you’ll be surprised at what amazing talent there is buzzing under the surface of a local business community.
  12. Use smart working practices like free cloud based applications to build your contacts and share information, quickly easily and freely! We use Dropbox to share documents. You can also use Facebook groups (public or private) to thrash out smaller ideas and reach quick decisions without the need for calling a meeting.
  13. Knowing Mary was involved, our bid video took inspiration from trailers for TV programmes, covering the juicy highlights of our story, with lots of Market Rasen people speaking with genuine passion in real high street locations.
  14. Watch the 12 winning videos, they are all in one place on the Mary Portas Website. Pick out what works for your town, then make your bid your own.
  15. Make sure your video has all the right tags added on YouTube. We tagged ours with: Portas Pilot, Shopping, Mary Portas, High Street Review, town centres, Government funding, Minister Grant Shapps, DCLG, Portas Pilots, Town Teams, shops, towns, Store, business, local authorities, retail, shoppers consumers, MR BIG, Market Rasen BIG, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, Twitter, @maryportas
  16. Make the written bid easy to read, cut out the waffle, and reveal a little personality. With 250-300 bids to be judged, you will stand out from the pile by showing character and even a bit of humour.
  17. Submit the bid and crack on regardless. Whilst we were waiting to find out if we won, we acted as if we had, putting on our ‘Extraordinary Portas Pop up Market’ to show we meant business and prove what we could achieve even without funding.

    With the help of our primary school, we filled an empty shop with 269 children’s fishes & wishes (about the future of Rasen). This was our Pop Up Market’s Pied Piper, bringing children (& parents) en masse

  18. Brainstorm really creative ideas and test commercially to ensure they are practical and deliverable.
  19. Bring a commercial business planning feel to the table but remember to keep it simple
  20. Gather individuals together who are passionate about your town, who have a wide range of skills and experiences and share a similar vision.
  21. Work hard, never give up even when it gets tough and complicated, cut through the politics and red tape with professionalism… and enjoy it!


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