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Successful Marketing Through Community

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2006, at 10:42PM

This evening I went to the first part of a meeting put on by the VEDC titled "Marketing Strategies for Downtown Retailers." It's part of the VEDC's Historic Downtown LA Retail Project. Curt Gibbs of the CRA was speaking about using the Internet for marketing, and he asked if I'd drop by just to listen and to say a few things about blogs. There was a healthy turnout from new businesses Downtown.

The two-minute message I gave the business owners gathered there was simple: build into the community Downtown and that community will in turn want to support you.

I love to see the new cafes and shops popping up Downtown. Just the other week I posted about the three new spots on my block of Spring. For the places I pass by every day it's easy for me to make a personal connection. Every time I walk by LA Cafe (in the Spring Street Lofts building) every day on my way to work and see the same two guys in there all the time. I hadn't ever met them, but I associated the cafe with them.

But what about the shops I don't walk by? How do I put a face on them? Or, more to the point for them, how do they invite me to put a face with their shop? They do it by becoming part of the Downtown community.

Whether on mailing lists or in blog comments, shop owners need to be engaging in discussion and showing that they're people who live here too. The person who sees that comment or that post may not typically walk by your shop, but I think they'll make the effort to seek out places that they see getting involved in the discussion.

Does that make sense, or am I totally making that up? I wasn't really prepared to talk, so that was just what I was thinking about after hearing the lead-up bits of the presentation.

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