I have been learning a great deal and not had a ton of time on my hands in the process in my new (since June) position as Digital Sales and Marketing Specialist for Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star is the leading newspaper in Rockford, Illinois, an old manufacturing city....2nd highest in population to Chicago, Illinois.
It's been an interesting journey. I go on 4 legged sales calls with our account executives and learn about the businesses in the five county metro area as well as McHenry County Illinois and Southeast Wisconsin to talk to them about their online marketing and advertising needs and frankly to help them sort out this complex world of online.
These are primarily towns that are truly built around relationships and deeply effected by the changing economic landscape. The saying in Rockford, I was told, is we are the first into the recession and the last to recover...but these folks are hard workers and aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and dig in. Empowering these local businesses with information to help them get started and crank up their efforts online (some being non-existent) is a rewarding task.
I have run my car through back dirt roads up hills and stepped out in heels into the middle of apple orchards in the middle of summer with swarming mosquitoes and flies buzzing abundantly around my head and sucking the blood from an account rep. net to me while having a meeting in a barn with the Orchard owner to talk about online banners and Facebook. Signed, sealed and delivered the contract 3 months later end of season and feedback was "It works...it worked".
I have sat in the middle of fine dining restaurants with the owners being pulled in 5 directions at once but intent on listening to why Google is still listing their business in an old location and what can they do about it.
I have followed on the heels of ad agencies and national "affiliates of Google" as they have swarmed and bombarded our local businesses dropping acronyms and dog and pony shows like nobody's business. Talked to pediatricians and bakers, bars and tax preparers about that silly social marketing stuff and getting started on video or blogging or hey...how about a website????
And then the horror stories of run away webmasters...abundant in volume and typical in kind local businesses are their prey,
It's a jungle out there, but it's a jungle worth working at and when you see a small mom and pop business or legacy employer survive and their employees greet you kindly and take an interest in you as a person not just the "online girl"...you know at the end of the day, it's worth working at. One boost online can make or break a person...refrain layoffs and create hiring, and keep a local economy moving upward one business at a time.
And then a young girl or a pet dog might come up as you leave the business to offer some kind words or rub against your leg in parting and the drive home gets a little shorter cause when you walk in the door and your home mirrors that of these business owners everything feels way more humane and way more human.
This is truly social networking at it's finest......Local IS where it's at. Local is worth fighting for.
- Rebecca Levinson-
Mom, Real Estate Blogger, Local Business Advocate, Digital Sales and Marketing Specialist, Social Networker,
Humane and Human