Seth Godin has an idea about how you can introduce your business to everyone in your community. It is a low-cost, high-impact idea.
I know you are thinking about the paper that arrives at your driveway in the morning, that you spend about five minutes scanning and then tossing it in the recycle bin. That isn't it.
I've been writing for our local newspaper off an on for the past ten years. When I first began I was asked to make a presentation to the top 50 managers in the company. Here's what I said then.
I was both wrong and right.
Newspapers are windows on a community, a place where the whole community can talk to itself. At least it was ten years ago, not any more. Or, at least newspapers as they have historically existed.
What happened? The center of communities shifted from an institutional based model to a relationship based model.
Newspapers are community institutions that interpret for the community what is important for them to know.
Today, online communication tools make it possible for people to find the information they need, and to share it with people that matter.
I do very little work in my home town as things have worked out. But my twice monthly column has given me a presence in the community that would be impossible to buy. And as of this month, I'm no longer paid to write it. The newspaper can't afford the coffee money they pay each month. But I'm still going to write for them because the people who read the column are why the column is important.
Yesterday, I walked into the Starbucks a block from my office to get a cup to go. I saw one colleague having a meeting as I walked in, another friend sitting at the bar in an intense conversation, but it was a woman I recognized by couldn't remember her name who waved to me. We got reaquainted, and she introduce me to her friend. Her friend knew me because of the column and was planning to attend the workshop I'm giving - Leading from the Middle - during our Lessons in Leadership even on January 20. I asked her what she did. She told me about her business and invited me out to see it. The next thing I did, because what she told me sounded interesting, was, "When I come out, let me interview you, and I'll write a column on what you are doing. It sounds interesting."
If you start a local newspaper as Seth suggests, you will have a world of opportunities to tell stories about other people. Every person's story you tell becomes your story too. And they are connected to you forever. It is an act of graciousness and kindness to tell other people's story. It is another example of the ethic of giving that informs actions like my Johnny Bunko 7th lesson - Say Thanks Every Day. (BTW, voting ends Jan.15.)
When you start a local newspaper, you are starting a paper, you are creating a tangible connection to your community. You are making your business into a more important node in the network of relationships that exist in your community.
Read Seth's piece again. If you do this you are setting yourself up for a dramatic increase in business once we get through this recession. Plant the seeds now, harvest later.