The Internet and Local Economic Development

Eldon ArchThere have been several recent Willits events based on localization and economic development that have re-ignited energy towards building our local economy and establishing community resilience. The Willits Chamber of Commerce brought in a marketing expert to train and inspire our small business owners. WELL hosted an engaging workshop on economic localization. The City of Willits’ main street week long planning event was a brilliant display of community involvement and action. Combined with North Coast Opportunities’ North Coast Farmers Convergence, which brought together the local farming community including retailers and buyers to work through their own localization efforts, it’s been an exciting time.

This energy is reaching a tipping point, and many local people and organizations are poised to seize upon this opportunity.

One of the key themes has been how to effectively use the internet, specifically, digital marketing to grow local business. There’s justifiable concern that the net is taking away from local businesses – and it is.

However, when asking a different question: How can we, as small local business owners, use the internet to build brand awareness, exposure, and sales while bringing business in from the outside? We find different solutions.

Dr. Jed Diamond is a great example of a local business person that’s successfully harnessed the internet and is bringing revenue to the community. His 40 years as a therapist, 14 books, and numerous accolades position him as a worldwide expert in the area of relationships and men’s health. In addition to his writing, he offers one-on-one counseling for individuals and couples. Due to the nature of our small community, his audience of potential local clients is limited.

He and I have been working together over the last few years to address this business concern. We’ve expanded his online audience and have created several products and services to sell both locally and online. His website, MenAlive.com, reaches tens of thousands of readers per month and he’s built an email list of over 23,000 subscribers. His social media presence reaches thousands more. The international demand for his services has grown and has resulted in 80% of his clients living outside of the area. As a result, he conducts much of his counseling over the phone and through the internet.

Jed Diamond is utilizing local resources to create a product that will be sold on the internet.

Jed Diamond is utilizing local resources to create a product that will be sold on the internet.

The next project is a day-long in-person intensive workshop titled: The Enlightened Marriage – A Master’s Class for Those Who Still Believe in Love on Saturday, May 14th from 9 am – 3 pm at the Little Lake Grange. The event (here’s the event page on Facebook) is an opportunity to engage with Jed in a small setting to learn from his personal and professional experience on how to create your own enlightened relationship.

In addition, we’re creating a product that we’ll market and sell online. Local videographer Andy Wright will be videotaping the event and he’s helping develop a series of video modules that we’ll sell to our customers. Because of the size of Jed’s existing online audience, we hope to bring in significant revenue.

Here’s the exciting part: We’re partnering with several Willits businesses to create the final product. We hope this video series ends up representing the best of Willits and ends up in front of thousands of people across the world.

Great food is the key to a great event as it sets the entire tone for the experience. Janene Johnson of The Zocalo Collective will be catering the event, and sourcing many of her ingredients from local farmers. We’re renting the kitchen and meeting space from the Little Lake Grange, Patricia Baumann of Design Café will be designing the space and working with Andy to ensure the video is of the highest quality, Tim Ramming and team from Printing Plus have created the promotional graphics and materials, Josh Bowers of Dandelion SEO has assisted with Search Engine Optimization, we’re using the Willits Fan Page Community Fan on Facebook created by Eldon Miller to promote the event, and Jan Rodriguez of the Baechtel Creek Inn is doing cross promotion and marketing to her out-of-town audience. And of course, many of people that attend the workshop will be local residents.

Thousands of dollars in revenue will be created and circulated amongst the community. After this product launch we will make adjustments to create another product, and then we’ll do it again. The result is a revenue model that other local businesses can use.

If you’d like to access world-class training on improving your relationship, this workshop is for you. If you’re a supporter of local economic development this event is for you. Find all the details at MenAlive.com/MastersClass or by calling 707 459-5505.

Willits is at a crossroads. There are several major changes underfoot and rigorous debate is taking place on how best to chart our future. It’s a thrill to live in a community that recognizes the challenges that change brings – no one really knows all the answers, but we’re jumping in and figuring it out together.

I, for one, am excited to live in this time of transformative change and I see exciting opportunities. Opportunities to think creatively, opportunities to create partnerships, and opportunities to leverage powerful tools such as the internet to improve the economic and social vitality of our community.

What opportunities do you see?

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Photo Credit: Eldon Miller

Getting Traffic via Keyword Research.

SEO PicI had a skype conference call with the team awhile back. People who know me know I prefer to not talk or talk as little as possible. Usually keeping my answers to “Yes”, “No”, and “I’ll Check”. But this conference call I was talking to a client explaining some of the SEO stuff I do and after I was done the client said, “Yeah, I got it. About as clear as mud.”

And he’s right. Do you understand SEO? Of course not. It’s kind of like what a Studies the UniverseCosmology is the study of the origins and eventual fate of the universe. cosmologist does, trying to understand something bigger than yourself without having any way to understand it except by running experiments based on theories. We only know what to do because someone else tried it and it worked… Of course the universe at least plays by the same rules every year (I hope?). Meanwhile google changes the rules constantly. A successful experiment this month might be a complete failure next month. On top of that there are so many people out there spreading nonsense or outdated information it’s quite honestly a real hassle to find useful, actionable information in the SEO world.

So what do we do? First: Forget SEO was ever created. At this point it is so tainted, misused, and over used. Instead lets concentrate on this: Communicating Effectively with your Audience via the Internet. If we want we can replace SEO with CEAI but I’d prefer not to as there are too many acronyms in the world as is (they are breeding like rabbits!).

[Read more…]

Small Business and Online Marketing – What’s the Process?

small business and online marketingMost artists hate marketing.  They want to build things, innovate, write, speak, or entertain.  But they hate the thought of promoting themselves or selling their products and services.

If this is you, then I have good news.  Marketing is dead.

For small business and online marketing it’s no longer about shouting in a crowded marketplace, it’s about participating in a dialogue.  It’s no longer simply about transactions, it’s about building relationships.  It’s about serving those who share your passion.

Finding and leading a tribe is the new marketing.

The key for artists is finding, engaging with, and leading a group of people that share your passion and interests.  The internet has made it easier than ever to do just that. [Read more…]

Developing an Online Marketing Plan – 3 Key Ingredients

Online Marketing Plan v2I’m reading Seth Godin’s new book.  If you know me at all, this may not be a surprise.  🙂

In the book, he makes a point that applies to any of us building a business and developing an online marketing plan.  He writes, “Scarcity and abundance have been flipped.  High quality work is no longer scarce.  Competence is no longer scarce, either.  We have too many good choices – there’s an abundance of things to buy and people to hire.

What’s scarce is trust, connection, and surprise.  These are three elements in the work of the successful artist.”

He defines an artist as someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to create change.

And as a coach, author, speaker – an artist – isn’t that what you’re looking to do?  To create change.  To help people that are stuck in one place and helping them get somewhere new.  [Read more…]

Marketing Ideas for Small Business – Lead a Tribe

ideas for small business lead a tribeMass marketing is dead.

And that’s great news.

It used to be that you could take an average idea, spend a bunch on advertising and you could succeed.  You could sell your books, sign new clients, and build a business.  It took a lot of money.  But if you had the cash it was easy.

That meant money could buy influence and power.

Thankfully, because of the digital revolution and the new economy, that’s changing.  Influence and power is being shifted to people that are connectors.  People that:

  • Have a great idea,
  • Create a vision around it,
  • Enlist others, and
  • Connect the people that buy into the story.

It’s about finding and leading a tribe. [Read more…]