Category Archives: Viral Marketing

Campaigns, Businesses and Nonprofits put FPF to work

#BTV #VT – 45,000 Vermont households participate in their Front Porch Forum now.  Use FPF advertising and campaign postings to place your message into neighborhood conversations.

“Front Porch Forum is the finest tool ever invented for speaking directly to your constituents, or to potential voters.  It’s direct, it’s personal, and it’s increasingly powerful as more and more homes come online.  Where I used it in my last election, my vote totals visibly increased, because it’s less a form of advertising and more a kind of conversation — and that’s the way we should be doing campaigns in Vermont.”
– Philip Baruth, Vermont Senate Majority Leader

“We just conducted a survey, seeking respondents through many local news channels.  Our Front Porch Forum campaign outperformed every other link by a huge margin!  So huge in fact, that we needed to retool our workflow to manage the high number of FPF-generated responses.  Front Porch Forum is amazing!  It will always be an integral part of our  ongoing community outreach effort.”
– Cal Workman, Greater Burlington YMCA

“We book with FPF because we feel it’s a great, cost-effective way to reach local consumers who are actively engaged with their communities and looking to support local businesses/organizations.”
– Elisa Garcia-Rey, Karen Fahey Advertising


“There is no doubt that Front Porch Forum was immensely helpful in making this year’s conference our most successful event ever.”
– Charlie Brooks, 15th Annual Vermont Breast Cancer Conference

Good to hear…

#VT – Front Porch Forum is one of the best outreach formats we have … well worth the money!” Cassandra Brush, CVSWMD.

Marketers secretly tracking your every move?

Jeff Chester will explore the latest in personalized data targeting and how we can secure the future of democracy and human rights in the Internet era.  Champlain College, Sept. 22, 2011, 7 PM.  Share this  poster (9-22-8x11poster):

FPF Ad Hits Home

Wow!  Just got a copy of the following letter from an FPF subscriber sent to one of our advertisers…

Dear RETN,

Please forward to Scott Campitelli, and your Board of Directors.

Thanks for advertising on Front Porch Forum. I often click on the sponsor links to learn about new local products and services – most are familiar to me. But today, I saw your sponsorship and as I had never heard of RETN was intrigued. I was so moved by your outstanding video piece on Aljazeera that I was motivated to look up and call and email my City Council Members to express my thoughts!

Thanks for a great news piece and many thanks for your support of another truly local and valuable community resource … Front Porch Forum.

I look forward to returning to your site often.



We hear this kind of feedback about FPF sponsors frequently… just don’t get it in writing too often!  Thanks Geo!

Hometown Daily Covers Front Porch Forum

Thanks to Sally Pollak who wrote an excellent feature article about Front Porch Forum for the Burlington Free Press yesterday.

Photo credit: Alison Redlich, Free Press

Is Front Porch Forum Nationwide?

Front Porch Forum subscribers frequently are surprised to learn that this free service was created right here in our corner of Vermont. It’s no secret… our start-up story has gotten decent local media coverage.

Here’s today’s example from a relatively long-time and active subscriber from Essex Junction…

First of all — will someone please tell me the “once upon a time” of Front Porch Forum. Since I’ve been a member, I’ve been singing its praises to family in Texas and most recently Oregon. But you know what!! I really don’t know where this started and I’m just now barely getting little hints and cues that this actually STARTED in VERMONT!!

Is this true?!! And if so, yet another reason for pride in this little state of ours.

Here I’ve been telling Texans and Oregonians — “Check out your own neighborhood. I’m assuming ‘Front Porch Forum’ is national, if not international.” Sooooo, if it hasn’t been done recently, I’d love to have someone fill in those of us who are in the dark. Or maybe post the “history” on the website under ABOUT US. Thanks in advance.

Second of all — I am indeed reaping the benefits of Front Porch Forum. I’ve established a weekly connection with a high school student who comes over and aids me with certain chores — recycle and trash out, groceries in, other lifting and tugging. He’s pleasant, dependable, willing, and courteous, and also a kindred theatre spirit by way of EHS drama program! He gets paid right away; and when he helped us with unloading and setting up our tag sale, he was able to earn more.

Local Business finds Clients through FPF

Thanks to Elaine for this wonderful note today…

I just wanted to tell you that right after the announcement that I had started my business was posted on the Five Sisters Forum, I received an email from a prospective client. I’m happy to say that he is now an official client and I foresee a successful working relationship ahead. Many thanks to you and Front Porch Forum for making connections like these happen!
— Elaine Sopchak, Vermont Voices Marketing Services

I wonder how she’d do if she reached out across all 130 of our neighborhood forums in addition to the single one she tried the other day?

Word-of-mouth has been very, very good to FPF

I was talking to a marketing professional this week and he was asking me how big Front Porch Forum‘s marketing budget is considering the high level of local buzz about it.  Well… what budget?  We depend on happy members to spread the word… neighbor to neighbor… social “contagion.”  So I was glad to read this posting from Perry in a Burlington neighborhood forum today…

I heard about [Front Porch Forum] some weeks ago, then yesterday, within about 12 hours, three different people mentioned it. I figured that’s the sign I need to become part. Looking forward to becoming more familiar and involved with the neighborhood.

8,000 local subscribers and counting… out of a base of 50,000 households.

Yelp, Local Online Leader, worth $200M?

TechCrunch reported this week…

Yelp, the popular local review site, will soon announce a new $15 million dollar round of financing led by DAG Ventures. The valuation is rumored to be in the $200 million range. Yelp says that they will be using the money to expand geographically, add onto their sales team, and establish an office in NYC (they are based in San Francisco). This is Yelp’s fourth round of funding since their founding in 2004. Yelp is also boasting some impressive stats: 8.3 million uniques in the past 30 days and over 2.3 million review.

Mike Boland comments

Yelp has become a poster child for how to build a local reviews site and has become a clear favorite of the twenty and thirty-something urban “foodie”.

And Greg Sterling offers

Yelp’s success is about its “personality” and “transparency.” The site has managed to create a brand as a result of offering content that people have come to value and trust.

This brand identity is what now lifts it above many or most of its competitors.

But it’s the comment area on TechCrunch that starts to get at the most interesting points.  E.g.,

Comment No. 12 says in part…

Local interest websites are always non-viral, because they operate in the disjoint “internets” of each metropolitan area. So one needs to wait a very long time before they reach decent size. For Craigslist, it took 7-8 years. VCs will not wait that long. To accelerate this, you can throw money at the distribution/marketing. I do not know what the timescale for them will be in NYC, but VCs may get impatient, especially because this business is very recession-prone, and the recession is coming.

Comment No. 15…

i’m no expert, but $200mm for sub-$10 million revenue, no profits, and difficult to scale growth (building a community in a new metro area takes time and local ad sales takes sales manpower) seems really generous. i guess yelp is essentially the market leader and probably does get high return traffic from those who do use the site… maybe you can argue a decent ltv for each user?

And comment No. 37…

I helped start a review site that was funded at the same time as Yelp, InsiderPages, Judysbook, etc. After building the feature set, we set forth to capture the YP advertising market. Kelsey Group and other industry pundits were playing up the pending “massive” migration of local advertising from offline to online. We all wanted to be there to capture it.

There was one big problem with capturing those ad dollars: the cost of sale. Reaching out to local businesses costs money, a LOT of it. I’m not sure what Yelp’s rate in customer-review-leads-to-advertiser equation looks like, but here’s some back-of-the-envelope math:

2.3 million reviews
Assume average of 1.5 reviews per business location (this is generous)
1.5 million businesses reviewed to date

Break down those businesses:
60% local, 40% regional or chain (some split along those lines)

The ad dollars are in the “national-local” or “regional-local” businesses. They have bigger budgets, and they’re familiar with the web play. But if you’re in the local review business, how many of your users will enjoy ads from Applebees and Home Depot?

So, you go after the “local-local” businesses, because that’s what brings the value of your site (Yelp) over the big guys (Yahoo Local, Google Local). Reaching out to these folks? You have to put feet on the street, and the cost of the sale just doesn’t pencil out.

Because of this, Yelp’s strategy is obvious acquisition. But at those numbers and a fourth round, they need to be eclipsing the {portal-name-here} Local properties in traffic. In short, good luck.

Front Porch Forum is not a local review site (although many of our subscribers do use it for reviews), but many of the points above apply.  We launched in our pilot area about 18 months ago and it gets a little easier every day in ways that money can’t buy.