As the economy continued to deteriorate, we continued to do our best to promote our local businesses. At the beginning of 2010, we launched a new feature, “Business of the Month.” We hired a local resident to write a story each month about a selected business and we unabashedly urged everyone reading the story to go to that business at least once that month. We then ran ads for free for the whole month for that business.
This was my little version of a “cash mob,” in which hundreds of people descend on one business and spend hundreds of dollars there to give that business a cash infusion, a mini-stimulus, if you will.
Our first business was a local restaurant. The owner seemed reluctant to tell us how it went, other than to say that it was really nice of us to do that. But we did hear through the grapevine later that it was the restaurant’s best month ever.
We, ourselves, received compliments from readers who loved the idea and thanked us for either spotlighting one of their favorite local businesses or for introducing them to a business they were not familiar with.
We continued the effort throughout the year, at which time it felt like the feature had run its course. In the beginning, it was new and generated buzz. After 11 months, it became just another feature that had lost its novelty.
But it was a good run and I think it did a lot of good for those businesses that were featured. Plus, I think it generated a lot of goodwill for the newspaper.