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Is This the Ultimate Local Marketing?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This email crossed my desk on Wednesday. I looked at it as possible spam, then I realized that the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce legitimately had my email address, so I read it. I had never heard of Try It Local, but it didn’t take me long to find it on the web.

It’s an interesting concept. This program is specifically designed for Chambers of Commerce who want to bring business to their towns. Local marketing programs are ideal for the small businesses that make up the core of chamber memberships around the country, so that seemed reasonable.

The deal of the week floated into my inbox today. It’s for a well-regarded local restaurant, although I must admit that I found the size of the deal underwhelming. Many of the features are similar to Groupon (Boston page), Gowalla and other location-based services. The main difference is that there does not seem to be a minimum number of purchasers to establish the deal. I’ve gone back to the offer several times while writing this and people are buying it in numbers that seem reasonable for this resort area in the off season.

So this platform may not be as social as some of the others, but that also seems to suit the small business environment. There are, however, social elements. The ad for what I think is a chamber of commerce publication shows “likes.” It has icons that link to the restaurant’s web page and Facebook page. It has no easy-to-use Share icons, which I think is an oversight.

But all in all, it seems well done. It appears to me to be the ultimate local marketing (for now at least) because of the program sponsorl. Chambers of commerce know the small businesses in their area and should have the trust needed to get small businesses to participate. That may not be too much of an issue. At one promotion per week, I wonder if there will be a queue lining up to participate in what seems to be a business-friendly promotion , run by a local entity not an unknown firm somewhere. That seems likely!

And that may be the main downside. Are consumers becoming so accustomed to these deals that they won’t buy anything unless there is a promotion attached to it? It happened with cars. It could happen with local businesses also. And is that in any way different from the sales and promotions they currently offer? I’m not sure. What I am pretty sure of is that this email-based program costs them less than advertising in their local newspaper. The one that loses here is the newspaper.

Try It Local points out that the program offers benefits to the chambers also, so it appears to be a win-win for them and the local businesses. For the moment, it is the most truly local deal program that I know of. Do you know of others that have a similar model?
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