Several years ago “City Portals” began springing up all over the Internet. The idea was, a city site could be used to marketing a variety of business types in a specific locale. If the City or Town Web site ranked high enough in the search engine rankings (Google, Yahoo, etc.) the site would then generate enough traffic to begin selling advertising space.
The model looked great at first. People are creatures of habit, though, and most city sites failed because most people are used to going directly to Google and/or Yahoo to do their searches.
The pages are generally cleaner and easier to navigate than a City or Town Portal site. And so, rather than going to the City Web site and typing in “Chinese Food, Bradenton,” – they’d rather go directly to Google and get the information there. Does this mean a city site is dinosaur money-making business model in 2009-2010?
Not at all. What it does mean, however, is that the niche is going to have an even tighter focus. For example, you can create a restaurant site… but even that’s probably too vague – depending upon where you live and the number of businesses located there.
What if you had a site dedicated to one particular type of food? This would be a much tighter focused niche. At the end of the day, if you’re online with the intention of making money, you still have to sell something. That “something” can be –
- Advertising Space
- Web Space for individual businesses
- Marketing Services for Business
- Services (such as coupon distribution for businesses)
- Free information (to help make a “buying decision” either immediately or somewhere down the line
An Online business is really not much different than an Offline business when you really get right down to it. Everyone is either selling a product or service… or they’re being paid to assist others in selling products or services.
It’s as far from “cutting edge science” as you care to imagine. In fact, it’s more psychological than anything else. People will usually buy what they want before they even buy what they need.
Friends of mine own a self-storage business in Brandon, Florida. It’s state-of-the-art to the max. When you go there, everything is bright, well lit, clean, safe and secure. You can check out their video walk-through of the location at http://www.stornmore.com
You can store items in or at a number of locations in any town or city you can think of. One of the things that have helped Stor-N-More Self Storage so much is the fact that everything they do projects an image of – bright, clean, safe and secure. Once you’re on the property, you’ll see that the image and the reality behind the image are one and the same.
Marketing is about projecting who you are, what you have and what you have to offer – from a distance. That distance can be anything from a flyer/leaflet/postcard to a full-blown web site. Once the people come to your door, whether you thrive as a business or not is determined by your ability to deliver on your promises or image. And when it comes to building a web site that targets a specific geographical area or zip code… the Internet is the most cost effective medium there is to deliver your message.
“Local” web sites will thrive in the 21st century. They have the capacity to eclipse the coverage of local newspapers, magazines, TV or Radio shows. For the aspiring web-entrepreneur, the sky isn’t even the limit.
I’ve personally been building niche sites for the last 11 years. Some I lost interest in promoting (I’m being 100% honest with you) and some have been making money for me – every single month without spending more than 10 minutes a month updating.
If you have any questions about building local sites, be sure to let me know. Once too much attention gets focused upon any one single area, the window of opportunity to build a very successful business gets smaller and smaller. So, if you’re thinking about getting started… don’t wait too long.