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Five Tips For Marketing Your Local Site

January 28, 2010

You’ve launched your site, your friends and family and neighbors know all about it, and now it’s time to sit back and watch it grow. Right?

Wrong.

Getting the word out about your site may be the most important—and hardest—thing you have to do to make your local site a success. It’s not as simple as telling a few people and maybe sticking up a few handbills. And it’s easy to get lulled into thinking that since everybody you know is talking about your site and telling you how much they love it, you’ve got an audience. Not true. You have to be constantly thinking of ways to publicize and market your site.

There are many ways to get the word out, and you should be doing every one you can think of. Here are five marketing and promotion ideas from the GrowthSpur team that you might try:

  • Be Everywhere—You should be a ubiquitous presence in your community, showing up at local meetings, getting a booth at local festivals, even standing outside the local supermarket buttonholing passersby and handing out flyers promoting your site. Lawn signs, door hangars, flyers stuck under windshield wipes—these may seem obnoxious, but they’re a way to get the word out. You really can’t do too much.
  • Practice Promiscuous Link Love—Be sure that your site is included on every blogroll of blogs and media sites in your area (and be sure to link back!). This doesn’t just help get you direct clicks from those sites; it also can improve your standing on Google and other standings, which favor sites that receive a lot of links. Needless to say, also use Facebook, Twitter and other social tools to distribute link to your site and to specific posts and features.
  • Get Your Advertisers to Advertise You—If you have advertisers, ask them to promote you with a sign in their window, a link on their site, a special event, whatever. (Don’t have advertisers? Get in touch with us. GrowthSpur is here to help you find advertisers and revenue.)
  • Hold Office Hours—Set yourself up in a local coffee shop or similar public place at a fixed time for a couple of hours each week. Promote your appearance on your site; put up a sign with your site’s name and logo on the table in front of you. And then interact with anybody who comes by. Talk to them about your site, find out what they think is important, invite them to visit you online. This personalizes your site for your audience, by making you a bit of a local celebrity.
  • Think Outside the Box—Not just any box. This is one of our all-time favorites. TribLocal, a network of sites in suburban Chicago, promoted itself by purchasing thousands of pizza boxes with the TribLocal logo and URL, and distributed them to local pizza places for use in delivering pies to their customers. The pizza places loved it—free supplies! It wasn’t cheap (it helped that TribLocal is owned by the Chicago Tribune), but it was a great idea. Think of other useful giveaways like that to get your site’s name out to the community.

Bonus: Be patient. Your traffic is not going to grow exponentially overnight. In fact, it’s likely to seem pretty weak at first—you’ll be measuring traffic in tens of pages a day. Our experience is that it can take a year or two to ramp a site up to anything resembling critical mass, and often it takes an external event—a big local story or event like a storm or fire—to get your audience to realize that you’re there and providing great local coverage. Don’t give up. Keep plugging away. Do everything you can to get the word out. Building traffic is a long, slow, arduous process. To riff on the famous “Field of Dreams” maxim: If you build it, will they come? Only if you tell them you’ve built it—and keep telling them, over and over.

Time for our plug: Part of GrowthSpur’s training for partner sites includes lots of good ideas for building an audience. Let us show you how!

We’d love to hear your ideas for site promotion. What’s worked for you? Add your best marketing tricks to the comments and share them with other sites.

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2 Comments
  1. Steve permalink
    February 18, 2010 6:31 pm

    Hi – I’m a bit late posting a comment here, but I’ve just subscribed to your RSS feed and will be following your posts closely from now on.

    Currently I’m in the process of creating a local news/OpEd site for my own city and have some good story ideas that will hopefully end up being “linkbait” articles to get some traffic traction.

    Should be fun. 🙂

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