I’ve noted before that Smalltown.com is one of the few local online efforts that is working on a model that is both authentically local and scalable. Most local online efforts seem to fall either in the “one off” mom-and-pop side or the “local, as in WalMart is local because they have a store on the edge of your town.” Smalltown is aiming between these two extremes with early signs of success… good for them.
Today we hear from their blog…
In light of the recent histories of InsiderPages, Backfence and Judy’s Book, it’s gratifying to be thriving long enough to sponsor a major local event two years in a row. Our Series A has gotten us far, including the ability to hand out 500 It’s-It treats to kids in our neighborhood.
I’ve always believed that you can’t do local advertising from afar. A salesperson in a call center in
Florida who calls a restaurant in San Mateo will reach the hostess who takes dinner reservations; not the owner who buys ads. Our sales people walk or drive to the restaurant to try the food and talk to the manager. Furthermore, when we knock on their doors they see us as people in their community; not carpetbaggers rolling through town to sell them junk. It takes time and money to gain the trust of local business owners, but once you do you have a customer for life.
Although different to Smalltown in many ways, Front Porch Forum has a similar approach, aiming to retain the local bona fides of a mom-and-pop while scaling up. And we’re finding our local businesses very open to our initial advertising opportunities.