Our guest blogger, Brian Ostrovsky, is the founder and CEO of Locable and the author of “Marketing 3-4-5™: The Business Owner’s Guide to Effective Local Marketing in 15-Minutes or Less. He has taught Marketing 3-4-5™ to thousands of small businesses with dozens of local workshops with Main Streets and state program around the U.S. – the Tour continues in 2022. Having grown up in the small Gold Rush town of Placerville, CA, which has a quintessential Main Street, Brian saw how important community is to the people who live there and has been dedicated to helping it thrive in the face of whatever challenges arise. If you’d like to learn more about Brian and Locable, click here for a more expansive bio!
For more than a year, my family and I have been traveling the country, visiting communities and Main Streets – by my estimation we’ve seen more than 250 so far. My wife chronicles our adventures on Instagram, and our family is constantly on the hunt for a great local ice cream shop. I run Locable, our tagline is “Main Street for the 21st Century” so this is fitting. If you’re not familiar with us, we’re a local marketing software company where our tools can be added to any existing website or, if you need an upgrade, we can help with the website too. The impetus of the trip was our Marketing 3-4-5™ workshops which Main Streets would bring me out to conduct for their merchants. Attendees would build their own content and marketing plan during our 2-hour session and, because they built it themselves, attendees can execute the plan.
More recently we hosted a 4-Part Marketing Main Street webinar series and my book “Marketing 3-4-5™: The Business Owner’s Guide to Effective Local Marketing in 15-Minutes or Less” is available in Paperback and Kindle versions – an audiobook version is coming soon. Amidst all of this, equipping Main Streets in particular and destination marketers, in general, has remained a passion of mine and I’d like to share a couple of important observations that I’ve made.
It is not your job to do marketing for your merchants.
Your merchants, members, or businesses may not realize this truth, but they have an obligation to market themselves. I call it a moral obligation because it impacts the community and customers in addition to the business itself. Your role, as a result, is to amplify their efforts. Yet, even this is often a challenge, and it’s a major reason we created our Local Connections™ tools including our self-updating (automated) Community Calendar and Local Directory – the basic version of each is entirely free… forever… as in, you don’t have to pay for it. These tools automate promotion on your website while the content can now be easily discovered and shared by your team to social media and via email – our Express Email Newsletter feature makes sending emails a breeze too. How does sending email newsletters in under 5-minutes sound?
Most local marketing is done in a fragmented and siloed way, and it should be coordinated.
When you think of managing your website, social media, email marketing, and ranking on Google, this probably feels like 4 completely disparate activities. It’s not. Content should live on your website and be distributed to those destinations. Sure, you can create some social media exclusives but most Main Streets don’t have time for that especially when social media reach gets smaller day-by-day and you want to rank on google.
Creating content is your key to engaging locals and attracting visitors.
Blogging scares the bejesus out of people, but believe me when I say that Business Blogging is different – it’s faster, it’s easier, it requires zero creativity and very little writing skills. We’ve created a Prompt-Based approach that enables you to create a wide range of content simply by answering a few questions – the prompt templates vary depending on the type of content you want to create. A few examples of templates that a Main Street may utilize include:
- Event Story Arcs including event previews and event recaps
- Vendor, Partner, or Business Recognition Spotlight
- Highlight a Project (shine a light on preservation, revitalization, or design)
The sorts of prompts you would need to answer to highlight a project would include:
- What is the project?
- How is it funded?
- What is the history of the building, property, etc?
- Who is involved and what are the stages of the project?
- Why should people care about the project and what are the benefits?
You already know the answers to these questions. Heck, you probably already share this information with people in person or present the information in meetings. Simply document it as a “blog” on your website and now you’re making this information more accessible. A side effect of this blogging, people know your organization exists and start to appreciate your role in the community. We feature free downloads to make blogging easier for you and your merchants and if you like the idea of software that Guides your Blogging so you can just answer questions directly – we can help there too.
Is your community visitor-friendly?
This last item has both an online and in-person component. My family and I pull a large 5th wheel which means we can’t fit in every downtown or Main Street and many of you would really prefer that we don’t try. That said, we want to visit your town and you’d like us spending money there. Be more visitor-friendly and attract daily visitors in RVs and busses by designated oversized parking locations near downtown and then make it easy for us to find it. Add maps and information to your website. Update your signage and wayfinding to clearly direct oversized visitors to safe parking locations… it doesn’t have to be complicated. Our adventure continues in 2022. I look forward to meeting you at the National Main Street Conference in Virginia where we’re hosting a session. We’re also available to visit with you and your merchants, learn more about hosting a Marketing 3-4-5™ workshop in your community, or other ways that we can help you #TakeBackLocal.
The organization or community to contact DHCD (email@example.com) about wanting to receive Locable’s community marketing program including a website upgrade, self-updating calendar, association & membership management (coming soon) and more will be awarded a technical assistance grant, up to $2,500, to address marketing, cross-promotion, and access to information in their downtown or commercial district – includes 1-year of Locable’s Coordinate Plan. This special offer is open to all Virginia communities!