some advice for anybody trying to create an advertising-driven local
Internet property: Before you begin, try marketing your own local
That would have helped us with 9Neighbors.
many others, we saw the money being spent on local newspaper and
television advertising (tens of billions) and assumed that as soon as
local businesses figured out the web, all this money would move online.
This is the assumption local media companies are making, and the assumption that underlies local web startups like Outside.in.
A few months marketing a local business will convince you that it's a dubious assumption.
our case with 9Neighbors. We were trying to market a local news website to five specific communities in the Boston area on a modest
budget. Our traditional outbound marketing options were direct mail,
newspaper ads, display advertising on the Web, radio commercials, postering, fliering and pay-per-click campaigns.
experimented with fliers and ppc campaigns, but found both expensive
and ineffective, especially when compared to the results of our inbound
marketing efforts — creating content. Flyering and ppc campaigns drove
traffic to our site, but it came and went without leaving us better
Content always attracted traffic that left us better off — more
discussion and more inbound links. Our most effective piece of
marketing was a map of potholes
that was picked up in forums around the city.
experience was not unique. Small businesses are beginning to adopt
online marketing strategies, but aren't focused as much on online
advertising as we thought they'd be. They're finding they can get better
returns elsewhere. They're blogging like David Levine does at Central Square Florist. They're running creative blogger promotions like the ones Susan Kaup and Nick Peterson have been doing at the American Repertory Theater. And they're creating material for video like Petsi Pies did on Pi Day this spring.
is a huge problem for local media companies. The marketing needs of
small businesses are intertwined less and less with content creators
and more and more with the places that give small businesses the tools,
data and insight to create content themselves — places like HubSpot.