Request for comment on specific local marketing ideas
Hey guys, I've got an idea for local marketing and I was hoping to get some opinions about it. Like many who visit here I fall into the 'just started hosting and still losing money' category. I just don't know enough about marketing to make this venture work it seems, I guess being a nerd isn't enough
So anyway, to the specifics. I'm thinking of starting a community portal website. I live in a small town of about 10,000 and it's all middle class to upper middle class so most people have a computer and use the internet at least once in a while. My idea (and surely not a new idea by any means) is to setup an msn/yahoo/whatever type of portal specifically tailored to my town. Links to local business websites, create sites for those that don't have a website but would like one, public forums for discussions of town issues, local newspaper articles, recipies for the local cooking club, letters from the mayor (he's a good guy and might actually be willing) and yeah basically everything community related that I can manage to pull together. Then once it's ready and looking good embark on the first stages of getting traffic. One idea was coupons for services from the local businesses. Free haircuts, free donuts, free coffee, $5 bucks off this, $10 bucks off that. Either paying for it myself or convincing the business owners that it would benefit them as well. And then to distribute them have these coupons handed out at the local movie theatre with people's reciepts, local coffee shop, wherever possible. To cash in their tickets' code and see if they've won any of these items they'd have to check at the website and validate it. Hopefully that would draw the initial traffic and then a good community website with something to interest them might encure a second or third or more visits.
Now to this point it's all zero-profit for the most part, and it wouldn't kill me, I really do like the idea of a decent community portal. But the underlying motive of course is profit. Hopefully some non-intrusive advertising on this portal website could help drive business for webhosting. The final goal being to host for every tom dick and harry in the local area and accomplish that much-talked-about task of local advertising. And that way I've never at any point been annoying to the end user and never had to use billboards, flyers or any of that other junk that I personally hate and never read.
So, what do guys think? Stupid idea? Will I end up regreting it? Any of you ever tried this same thing? Save me from myself if this is a bad idea guys; I'm starting to get desperate for a way to get exposure here
The problem you face is getting that initial exposure. Getting traffic is quite easy in a community portal, but you need to have content to get things happening.
You seem to have a good idea with coupons, and I suggest extending it to restaurants. Not sure how many restaurants are in a small town of 10000, but I would hazard a guess that it would be at least a dozen. If you could get them on board(free hosting????), and they offer a coupon for 25 % off, this would certainly drive word of mouth traffic to your site. If you have good content, this really should get the word around about the portal.
You should also consider setting up a business directory offering free basic listings. With a little clever marketing on the free listing form, you should be able to generate some interest for businesses looking for further exposure on your site. Best of all, you will have a ready database of businesses who are interested in marketing their website through a web medium. If they don't have a website, there is a strong chance they will want one eventually, and you will be perfectly poised to capitalise on this.
Yeah restaurants for sure, and the buisiness listing part would be one of the primary components without a doubt. I'm suprised I only got one response though....not sure if I should interpret that as nobody saw a problem with this or as nobody read it
Good idea, assuming there isn't already a similar site in your town. I would start out by offering free template-based pages to businesses. Have the URL be based off your portal, i.e. www.yourportal.com/biz/harrysgarage/ - by offering this for free you would gain some trust, especially since you are just establishing this. Then, for a fee, you can park a domain name to this page, or offer them a more advanced design, feedback forms, etc.
I wish I had some more specific advice to give you. I've never tried this, and don't know anyone else who has either. I think it has potential though.
It's a good idea, and has been successful elsewhere.
The trick, as was mentioned, is to get traffic.
My suggestion is to do everything as a free basis until you have traffic. (ie: Allow companies to create their ad/listing without charging them.)
Then, once you get the traffic you want.. and people begin to DEPEND on your community portal.. and companies are seeing new business because of it.... you can justify introduction of a "listing charge" to continue using it.
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