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10 Words for 10 Years – FPF annual word play and free prize drawing

FPF is ten years old now! Help us celebrate with our annual New Year word play and free prize drawing!

Submit your entry before midnight Thursday, January 5, 2017 — any posting consisting of exactly ten (10) words submitted before the deadline will enter you into a free drawing* to win one of these 25 great prizes:

• One overnight room at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa
• One K250 Coffee Maker (in Red) from Keurig
• One Tower of Treasures from Lake Champlain Chocolates
• Two cases of SAP! Maple Drinks (2 winners)
• One $100 gift certificate to Jivana Holistic Spa in Burlington
• One $100 gift certificate to Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier
• One $100 gift certificate to Prohibition Pig in Waterbury
• One $50 gift certificate to Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne
• One $100 gift certificate to Bluebird Barbecue in Burlington
• One $100 gift certificate for Troy West Carpet Cleaning in Barre
• One $100 Gift Certificate to to Farmers to You in Berlin
• 12 pints of frozen yogurt (one/month) from SoYo Frozen Yogurt
• One “Year of Free Bread” card for Great Harvest Bread Company
• One full makeover at Sequoia Salon in Burlington
• One family portrait or signed print from Carolyn L. Bates Photography
• One 5-punch treatment card to OPEN Community Acupuncture in Waterbury
• One $100 gift certificate to the Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington
• Two tickets to Joey Alexander April 22 at The Flynn Theater
• Two tickets to Balé Folclórico da Bahia Jan. 27 at The Flynn Theater
• Two tickets to Cinderella, by State Ballet Theater of Russia Jan. 28, Spruce Peak Arts
• Two 1-Day Lift Tickets (no restrictions) to Sugarbush
• Two 1-Day Lift Tickets (valid mid-week, non-holiday) to Bolton Valley
• One 1-month Family Membership to The Edge
• One $125 gift certificate to the Shelburne Field House
• Pair of Buy Local coupon books and mobile apps from Local First Vermont (3 winners)

Thanks to the local Vermont businesses who donated these wonderful prizes.

Now get creative! Make your neighbors laugh, cry, smile, think! — and POST AN ENTRY:

• Go to FrontPorchForum.com and click LOGIN (if not already logged in).
• Once logged in, click MY ACCOUNT.
• Then click COMPOSE POSTING.
• Select posting category “10 Words for 10 Years – FPF Raffle,” type your posting, and click SUBMIT POSTING.

*FPF welcomes up to two entries per day per person. Post about whatever tickles your fancy. Click on the links under PAST ENTRIES for loads of great samples.

Invite your Vermont friends, family, co-workers and others to join their local FPF and enter the raffle!  They can sign up at FrontPorchForum.com. Check out flyers, social media tie-ins, and more on our Pitch In page.  Spread the word!

UPDATE:  This raffle is now CLOSED.  Here are our lucky randomly drawn winners…

One overnight room at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa
Mary O’Brien, Hartland
“Front Porch communication creates community, notifies neighbors, knits strangers together.”

One K250 Coffee Maker (in Red) from Keurig
Rita Muller, Peacham
“Despite digital distraction, community and neighbors still remain incredibly important.”

One Tower of Treasures from Lake Champlain Chocolates
Alec Slater, South End, Burlington
“I’m an apple-farming physician, so I keep myself away.”

Two cases of SAP! Maple Drinks
Berta Winiker, Bennington
“Oh, schizophrenic Vermont winter, what variety might we see today?”
Theresa Butts, Tinmouth
“Palindrome love: Are we not drawn onward to new era?”

One $100 gift certificate to Jivana Holistic Spa in Burlington
Dan Elliott, New North End, Burlington
“So many engaged people; tell a friend to join FPF!”

One $100 gift certificate to Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier
Ed Leszko, Barre
“My house has no front porch; internet does; thank you!”

One $100 gift certificate to Prohibition Pig in Waterbury
Elisabeth Walton, Stowe
“What did the zero say to the eight? Nice belt!”

One $50 gift certificate to Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne
Sarah Forbes, Williston
“Oh what nice people I have met borrowing and lending!”

One $100 gift certificate to Bluebird Barbecue in Burlington
Rachelle Gould, Old North End, Burlington
“FPF, the anti-Twitter: focused on local, no Trump, limitless characters.”

One $100 gift certificate for Troy West Carpet Cleaning in Barre
Quint Welters, Cabot
“Why did the chicken cross the road?  Dunno.  Ask FPF… ”

One $100 Gift Certificate to to Farmers to You in Berlin
Lava Mueller, Randolph
“I gave up social media… except for Front Porch Forum!”

12 pints of frozen yogurt (one/month) from SoYo Frozen Yogurt
Raven Grey, South End, Burlington
“Don’t feed loons poptarts, ‘they are endangered,’ people will yell.”

One “Year of Free Bread” card for Great Harvest Bread Company
Michelle Yargeau, South Burlington
“Let your words pass through three filters:  kind, true necessary?”

One full makeover at Sequoia Salon in Burlington
Zachary Key, Winooski
“Have I ever bought milk from the same cow twice?”

One family portrait or signed print from Carolyn L. Bates Photography
Bobbie Moser, Milton
“Congratulations to Front Porch Forum! We are all better connected.”

One 5-punch treatment card to OPEN Community Acupuncture in Waterbury
Linda Jones, Warren
“A broken ankle showed me the true spirit of Vermont!”

One $100 gift certificate to the Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington
David Hobb, South Hero
“Sparks fly with impunity; Please grant immunity; Forum implies community.”

Two tickets to Joey Alexander April 22 at The Flynn Theater
Toria Reed, Salisbury
“Found a dog, lost a cat, everyone got pets back.”

Two tickets to Balé Folclórico da Bahia Jan. 27 at The Flynn Theater
Leo Laforce, Westford
“President elect should learn to use FPF instead of twitter.”

Two tickets to Cinderella, by State Ballet Theater of Russia Jan. 28, Spruce Peak Arts
Richard Hamlin, Georgia
“Once a small forum; now a lifeline for many people.”

Two 1-Day Lift Tickets (no restrictions) to Sugarbush
Amanda Skull, Newfane
“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.”  • Abraham Lincoln

Two 1-Day Lift Tickets (valid mid-week, non-holiday) to Bolton Valley
Julie Welkowitz, Richmond
“Lending a hand; selling tires; love the Vermont community spirit!”

One 1-month Family Membership to The Edge
Dale Lacroix, Essex Junction
“Be kind to unkind people. They need it the most.”

One $125 gift certificate to the Shelburne Field House
Carole Carlson, Shelburne
“This Front Porch Forum skeptic has become an avid supporter.”

Pair of Buy Local coupon books and mobile apps from Local First Vermont
Melissa Marcello, Charlotte
“You’ve outlasted the typical vacuum cleaner. FPF definitely doesn’t suck!”
Leah Pellegrini, Essex Junction
“We moved here one year ago. FPF has helped us!”
Laurie Newton, Bolton
“Bears hibernating, cats sleeping, frozen-fingered humans starting cold cars.”



Word-of-Mouth primary driver of local business

#VT – Need a recommendation for a plumber?  Best burrito in town?  Slate roof repair?  People turn to Front Porch Forum again and again in our coverage area.  Now a new study offers some insight (below).  People use FPF to get a recommendation from a neighbor, to read reviews in the archives, and to see the ads from our local sponsors.  FPF is word-of-mouth accelerator for local businesses.

A new Street Fight poll finds that even with a slew of new locally targeted marketing platforms at local merchants’ disposal, word-of-mouth is still a primary driver of local consumer behavior.

The poll of 500 U.S. consumers found that 43% of consumers are most likely to shop or dine at a local business after a recommendation from a friend or colleague. 30% are primarily motivated by daily deals, 15% after seeing a locally or behaviorally targeted advertisement, and 12% after reading a positive review about the merchant online. The poll was conducted on behalf of Street Fight by third-party opinions platform Toluna QuickSurveys.

Are you more likely to shop at a local business after…


Save Money on Telecom through FPF

We’re proud to announce a new set of telecom specials made available to eligible Burlington Front Porch Forum members via Burlington Telecom.  If you live in Burlington in an area served by Burlington Telecom and are interested in top-of-the-line internet/cable TV/telephone service options, please check this out.  Also, existing BT subscribers can get special discounts via FPF on various upgrades.

As a recent FPF member said… “I can think of no reason not to sign up with Burlington Telecom as soon as possible… and now it’s even cheaper through Front Porch Forum.”

Every person who mentions Front Porch Forum when signing up or upgrading with BT will get their special deal and will earn a referral fee for FPF that will help keep our community-building service free of charge.


Hate online ads? How much?

Mike Vorhaus blogged today at Advertising Age…

Consumers might “hate ads,” but not enough to pay even as little as a few cents a day to avoid them.

He reported on a survey…

When we asked consumers if they would pay $39.99 a year, which comes out to less than $4 a month, for an ad-free version of one of their favorite sites, only 2.4% said definitely yes, they would be likely to do so. And only 3.5% said they’d be very likely. In fact, 84% of the people said they’d be unlikely or not at all likely.

At the lower price of $29.99 a year, or less than $3 a month, only another 1.9% of consumers said they would be very likely to pay for an ad-free version.


Mega Local Sites in the News

CitySquares in Boston and beyond says business is good with advertisers’ coupons being hot.

Citysearch rebuilt its site. “Elements of the revamp include a more intuitive interface, an embrace of social media, a major focus on video, some new twists in mobile, and the development of a full-fledged local ad and content network that offers an alternative to Google’s dominant position.” Local Onliner

Service Magic is doing very well, despite the general economic conditions.  Co-founder Rodney Rice’s “6 Keys to Success in Local Services” via Andrew Shotland:

  1. Build supply before demand
  2. Choose the right vertical focus/right branding
  3. Execute as a service business, not a dot com (too true)
  4. Control customer acquisition costs – apply real business metrics
  5. Utilize technologies that make sense now – not in 3, 5 or 10 years
  6. Focus on yourself, not the competition (the best advice ever)

Angie’s List took in more VC money recently, bringing it’s total raised to about $66 million.  And Shotland reports Angie Hicks saying “The biggest competitor in the space is ‘your next door neighbor.’”  Interesting.  In this light, Angie’s List offers another way to buy your way out of something you just can’t find the time to do… get to know the neighbors and have conversations with them.  Front Porch Forum, on the other hand, is free and uses things like plumber recommendations among clearly identified nearby neighbors as a way to help connect neighbors and lead toward more vital communities.

And again from Shotland

The thing I love the most about both Angie’s and Rodney’s talks is that they are both very much outside the local search/Silicon Valley community in some ways (well Angie did raise a bunch of $ from VCs and Rodney did sell out to IAC, but besides that), but they are both incredibly successful.


Sweet Clover Market and FPF

Thanks to Heather Belcher at Sweet Clover Market in the Essex Shoppes for running this bit in her e-newsletter…

As summer winds down and fall comes blowing down from the hills, people also tend to see more of their neighbors… at least until the snow starts flying. What a great time to sign up for Front Porch Forum. Have you heard of it yet? It’s free, it was invented locally, it’s informative and fun. Clearly identified nearby neighbors connect over lost dogs, plumber recommendations, block parties, car break-ins, firewood sources, and lots more. I live in Westford, and receiving emails through the Front Porch Forum definitely makes me feel more connected and informed about what my neighbors do at work and at home, what they value and how they play! You probably shop at Sweet Clover Market because you value relationships…with your farmer, with your butcher, with your grocer. Front Porch Forum is a terrific way to enhance your relationship with your neighbors…sign up today!

Heather’s grocery store is one of more than 75 local businesses reaching into thousands of Chittenden County inboxes via FPF advertising.


Smalltown.com explains itself

A detailed posting about Smalltown.com‘s status today including its acquisition of Local2me.com… worth a read (comments too for a little fun).

While I’m uncertain if Smalltown’s approach has enough juice to keep people tuned in (it’s a souped up yellow pages with some social networking running through it), I am fascinated by their authentically local approach… town by town growth with real people on the ground.


Smalltown.com Update

Congratulations to Smalltown.com… it launched its seventh small town website today.  Some lessons

Smalltown, San Carlos went live today. This is our seventh Smalltown site; we continue to make our way down the Peninsula from Millbrae to Palo Alto as planned. The most interesting detail regarding San Carlos is that we built the new site and pre-loaded it with content in only two weeks. Our very first town, Burlingame, which is about the same size as San Carlos, took four times as many person-hours to prepare. We’re figuring out how to launch new towns in much less time for much less money.

Our ability to launch a new town efficiently will be very important when we start to expand to hundreds of towns. We’re speeding up the process in three ways.

1. We’re learning that “Halo Towns” are easier to launch than “Virgin Towns”. Burlingame was a virgin town because it was first. There weren’t any adjacent Smalltown Sites. On the other hand, San Carlos borders several towns that already have Smalltown sites.

2. We’re happy if 85% of the content is updated and accurate. The last 15% is just too time consuming to track down and correct… Unlike most directory information databases, the longer a Smalltown site is around, the more accurate its data becomes.

3. Our processes are getting better. We’ve had time to try out several variations of walking down streets with a camera and a clipboard, and the current process is much faster and more accurate.


Hindsight for Judy’s Book

Greg Sterling got more lessons learned by Andy Sack around Judy’s Book demise…

Sack added that if he had to do it over he’d:

  • Launch in a single market and gain critical mass before going national
  • Launch with a narrow content focus: one category or just a few rather than trying to be comprehensive immediately
  • Try to get into the “deal flow” of local (think travel or OpenTable) and local ad spending
  • Have a long time horizon and tempered expectations accordingly