Thursday, January 18, 2007

How to promote your local site

Back in the 1990s, I read a book “Road Warriors” by Daniel Berstein and David Kline where they also wrote about creating wholesome online city halls for every locality. The City Halls would provide a range of services – news, electronic governance services, citizen activism, communities and help centers, and more, all on one site.

If you can build an accessible local site based on the above lines, you are making people come to your site for one reason or another.

We promote our sites so that more people may use these on a regular basis. I think that on a local scale, all-in-one two-way service sites that also aggregate all local sites and data (different from one-way portals) will work far better than a VC-funded review site here and a Yellow pages site there.

Copying big company styles of promotion is best left aside. How long do you think you can go on giving out free T-shirts and Coffee mugs? Gigaom has a story that.

Not all companies are VC-funded. Besides looking at ways to market your site on the cheap, remember that it all starts with creating a useful and easy-to-use service works more than anything else. If you are a local news startup, you may also want to consider hosting low-cost events such as consumer complaints drive, alternative energy awareness campaigns, local activism campaigns, contests etc.

Printing out all local classified listings and distributing cheap copies of them might help raise awareness and build an important part of business.

To end, do not look for funds just so that you can spend all the money on expensive, non-grassroots promotion campaigns.

Be creative. Be cheap.


At 6:26 AM , Blogger michael said...

Agreed. Front Porch Forum is growing rapidly in our initial area (Burlington, Vermont, USA) based mostly on word of mouth. People love our service and tell their neighbor. In fact, happy participants go door-to-door... one gent got 40 people to sign up over a weekend. Others have passed out hundreds of homemade flyers. We've also gotten a little local media attention, but it's the neighbor-telling-neighbor that really delivers new members.

Front Porch Forum hosts 130 neighborhood forums covering one entire metro area. In our first few months, more than 3,000 households signed up (5-10% of universe)... many neighborhood forums have 20-40% participation. People do amazing things with their forums. It all adds up to helping neighbors connect and foster community within neighborhoods. More in our blog. -Michael

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