6 Reasons You Really Don’t Care About Your Community

You can’t go anywhere these days without reading something about “local”.  Whether it’s Small Business Saturday, a #drinklocal tag on Twitter, or a news segment on how business owners are banding together against bigger companies, everyone seems to support the notion that supporting their local economy is beneficial to everyone.

Unfortunately, most of what you hear is empty rhetoric.  Most people love to talk about community, but few really live it.  Here are the top six reasons you might be one of these people:

6. You don’t know/get along with your neighbors.

What is community, really? Rather than a hive mind with its own consciousness, a community is simply a group of people living and working together with the common goal of bettering their lives.  Their are also communities within communities, right?  Your side of town, your neighborhood, or even your street may have it’s own sense of “self”.  But how many of your neighbors do you actually know and care about?  A handful?  Weren’t you just complaining that Jim’s tree was shedding leaves over your property line?  Or silently judging the Wilsons because their Christmas decorations were a bit too over the top?  Shame on you.

5. Instead of taking action, you criticize.

When something happens in your community that you don’t agree with, what do you do?  Organize a rational discussion around the issue on Facebook?  Call your local government and suggest a solution?  Get out there and do something yourself?  Let’s be honest here.  More than likely, you call your coworker and complain.  Or maybe you leave an anonymous rant with your local newspaper. Your Facebook post: “Did you see what [X] said/did? #MajorFail”. The fact is, change only occurs when action is taken, and people who care take action.

4. You don’t volunteer when the opportunity arises.

Local causes and charities provide an integral service to communities, often focusing on the less fortunate, the economically depressed, and the forgotten.  Remember, those people are part of your community, too.  These organizations are feeling the economic crunch and rely on people like you to support them, whether it’s working at a soup kitchen, chaperoning a local youth group trip, or packing boxes to deliver to shut-ins. But, let’s face it – you’re busy.  With your job, your kids’ activities, and what little time you have for personal relaxation, you don’t have any extra time for unpaid work.  You’re aware of all of the local non-profits, but surely someone else will help, right?

3. You don’t donate to local causes.

Sure, you may donate to national causes, but most of that money doesn’t trickle down to your local community.  If you want to see your donations really work, you need to donate locally. And you intend to – right after you finish paying for piano lessons, doing your Christmas shopping, or paying for that purse you’ve always had your eye on.  But one day, definitely.

2. You don’t vote in local elections.

Let’s face it: most people simply don’t vote in local elections. Data shows that as little as 25% of voters may have participated in major mayor elections across the country over the last 20 or so years. ["Why Is Voter Turnout for Mayoral Elections So Abysmally Low?].  This is crazy talk.  Local elections affect every aspect of our communities, including: the amount of money that will be spent on local initiatives, decisions about education, the maintenance of public structures, streets, and roads, the communication of community information, the levying of taxes, and much more.  If you really cared about your community, you would make sure your voice was heard when it comes to these important issues.

1. You don’t buy locally.

Small businesses are the largest employer nationally and create every two out of three new jobs. ["Why Buy Local?"]  Local businesses not only create most of the jobs, they also sell key local products, provide needed services, and most importantly give back to their communities.  When you spend money locally, 2x as much money stays in your local community than it would if you had bought the same thing with a national chain.  When you buy online, none of it stays.  But you’re just acting rationally, right? That pair of running shoes is $20 cheaper on Amazon.com than it is at your local fitness store.  And when you leave town on a beautiful Saturday to go shopping out of town, you’re really just doing it to get away for a bit. The next time you look online for a product you could buy locally, consider the impact each of those dollars would have on your community.

As we move into the holiday season, let’s step back a moment and ask ourselves what we can do better to become positive forces in our communities. Then, let’s start to take action. If this post motivates you to make a difference, we’d love to hear about it.

Pushlocal Goes International!

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We’re extremely excited to announce our expansion into London, United Kingdom today.  Our partners in London have identified a growing movement in the UK centered around understanding and supporting local businesses and believe Pushlocal furthers that mission tremendously.

If you’re living in London and using Pushlocal, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how it helps you run your own small business or organization or support another one.

London is not only open to people in the UK – anyone using Pushlocal can add London as a city, and anyone in London can add US cities as well.  We believe this will create an awesome international “window” that will connect our world even more.

To add London as a city:

1. Go to the “Settings” tab in Pushlocal

2. Click “Add New City”

3. Click the dropdown in the top right hand corner of the screen that currently says “US”.

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4. Choose “Great Britain”.

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5. Click on London to add!

We’re currently identifying opportunities in several other countries and can’t wait to spread the #local love some more.

Cheers!

The Pushlocal Team

Success at Papa’s Car Wash

Our goal at Pushlocal is simple: provide a marketing platform to local businesses that is simple, affordable, and measurable.  Numbers matter.  Businesses need to know that the money they are spending on local marketing is providing a return on their investment.

Today, we got a note from Papa’s Car Wash in New Braunfels, Texas about the success they had with their first big Pushlocal promotion, and we wanted to share the details.  We’re giddy with excitement – we feel every win that our client have like it’s our own!

On October 17th, Papa’s (on a free Pushlocal trial) pushed out a wash code for a FREE Car Wash  for their Pushlocal followers. Here is their post:

FREE car wash!! Today only! Papa’s Car Wash is offering a FREE Shield & Shine exterior wash, valued at $12! Want to upgrade to full service? Only $9! Across from new HEB. Pushlocal WASH CODE: 101713

Papa’s sent the push out at 9:50 a.m and another one at 3:45pm.  At the time, they had 68 Pushlocal followers.  They also cross-posted the deal to Facebook. Check out the awesome results:

Papa’s Stats

- Total views for the deal not counting Facebook: 1,928

- Total likes: 27

- Shares: 12

- Click-through rate: 7%

- Papa’s car wash increased 90 Pushlocal followers in one day

- Papa’s had about 60 clients go through the carwash that day using the Pushlocal code (11% response rate)

- 30% of the clients upgraded for the $9 full service wash ($270 in revenue)

- 4 clients signed up for the monthly passes! ($184 in revenue)

- Gross Revenue from the FREE deal: $454

Papa's Stats

We couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.  There are several key takeaways here:

1. The Pushlocal platform allowed Papa’s Car Wash to multiply their current reach.  Papa’s started with 68 followers and ended up with 158.  Current users were sharing the deal with their friends, which drove them to download Pushlocal and follow Papa’s themselves.  Hopefully, these new followers will become new customers.

2. Papa’s was able to measure its ROI.  Combining a special wash code with our per-post analytics, Papa’s was able to measure not only who saw and interacted with its post, but how many people redeemed the deal.

3. FREE deals can make money.  Giving a product away at a discounted price gets customers in the door who might purchase other services. It also gets people talking and sharing.

We couldn’t be happier for Papa’s Car Wash and will look forward to more specials and offers from them.  If you’re located in New Braunfels, Texas, check them out.

Want this type of success at your own business?  Sign up now.

Empower Your Community With Mobile Donations

We’re excited to announce a brand new feature today – mobile donations!

Starting today, organizations can sign up as a merchant through their Dashboard at http://pushlocal.com and begin accepting donations right through the app! The money is automatically deposited in their bank account on a rolling 7 day basis (they do not have to wait on us for a payout).  We’re extremely proud of this feature because it drastically reduces the friction of the donation process and should really make it easy for people to support causes they care about. After the end user’s credit card is securely saved, a donation can be made in three taps, in less than 10 seconds.  Awesome!

Here’s how it works:

StripeConnectOn its Dashboard, the organization clicks on the “Channels” menu tab and then clicks “Connect to Stripe”.  We redirect them to Stripe who takes the user through the sign up process.  For LLCs, the user will need to enter their EIN along with their legal name, address, and contact information.  For individuals, a Social Security Number can be used.  The user will also need their bank account number and routing number so Stripe knows where to deposit the money.

CreateButtonOnce the organization is ready to post, they click the drop down under the post box to add their Donate button.   A menu allows them to add details about the donation, including the reason they are seeking the donation, a minimum amount, and any special instructions.

After the button is added, they push the message out as usual.

All of the people following the organization will receive  the message they pushed out with the donation button attached.   After clicking the button, they can choose their donation amount, enter their personal and credit card information, and submit it to donate.  The entire process takes less than a minute.  AppDonateCC

Success

After the successful donation, the end user will receive an email with a receipt for their records.

We’ve taken a very complicated transaction and made it dead easy for all parties involved.  We can’t wait to see how people use it!

We hope you enjoy!

The Pushlocal Team

Why Our Consumer-Oriented Startup Won’t May Not Fail.

I was browsing Twitter today when I came across a blog post by Street Fight, an online mag about hyperlocal tech startups, called, “Why Your Consumer-Oriented Hyperlocal Startup Is Going to Fail.”

Since Pushlocal fits the bill, I dove right in. The author, Sean Barkulis, a startup founder himself, lists seven reasons why hyperlocal startups often fail based on his experiences in trying to build one. I found myself nodding  and agreeing with every point he made. eventually concluding that the entire article was  dead on. Local startups are notoriously hard to scale, even if some semblance of success is reached in a beta market. This is why there is no dominant (read: profitable) player in the local space, although several newcomers like Nextdoor, Block Avenue, and Sosh are trying to change that.

Fortunately, I realized as I read that although we have faced the same problems and have solutions in place for most of them (whether we have solved them remains to be seen).  So, I took the opportunity to work through those solutions point by point; below you can find his seven hyperlocal failure points and my response to each.

Problem #1: The app requires curated local content to engage users.  Point: If you don’t engage your users immediately with valuable content, you will lose them. 

Our solution: On our platform, the local businesses and organizations themselves are the ones who create and push the information out to their followers.  This solution is actually the number-one reason we created Pushlocal — we saw a gap between social networks like Facebook and Twitter, which do distribution well, but not local, and apps like Foursquare and Yelp, which rely on user tips and reviews instead of information straight from the source. Our members push information, deals, events, specials, straight to their local supporters each and every day.

Problem #2: Local businesses won’t use the app unless it has users.  Point: The chicken and the egg problem — it’s hard to onboard businesses without users and vice versa.

Our solution: Our idea was to provide so much value that both sets of users would use our platform regardless of whether it was densely populated (at first) or not.  On the business side, we built tools specifically optimized for small-business marketing, including scheduling, analytics, cross-posting to other social networks,  and push notifications.  On the user side, we made local discovery easier than it ever has been by creating a connection with local businesses that they could not get anywhere else.  We believe the number-one solution to the chicken-and-the-egg problem is making an extremely functional, valuable product.

Additionally, because all non-businesses use our platform for free, acquiring them as customers is relatively easy.  Once they sign up, they push the app to their members, who then download the app to follow them, but end up following other accounts as well.

Problem #3: The app’s strategy is to build out city by city. Point: You probably don’t have the capital to build out your local startup city by city.

Our solution: Before we launch in any city, we partner with a local entrepreneur who licenses our platform and will “own” Pushlocal in that city.  This gives us several distinct advantages over larger players in the local/social/marketing space:

  • We personally onboard, train, and support each of our clients.  When there is a problem, there is a local representative ready to answer any questions our clients may have.  We want to make every single client successful on our platform.
  • To DO local, you have to BE local.  Our partners are members of their Chambers of Commerce, run local businesses, and have children who attend local schools, churches, and sports leagues.  Understanding the intricacies of their respective communities is crucial to Pushlocal’s success.
  • We create wealth and empower entrepreneurs.  We share the majority of the revenue with our local partner, allowing them to focus on Pushlocal as a viable business.  These days, everyone wants to create their own startup; Pushlocal allows regular people to become tech entrepreneurs by maintaining the technology and handling payments while allowing the local partner to run the business.

Problem #4: The app doesn’t “sell” anything to consumers. Point: The app needs to make money from the beginning. 

Our solution: While nonprofits, charities, churches, schools, clubs, and other non-businesses use our app for free, we charge our business members an affordable monthly subscription fee.  By doing this, we are creating a sustainable business model that can support us as we change and grow.

Problem #5: The app is going to need a massive local sales force to earn revenue.  Point: Marketing is imperative  and expensive.

Our solution: Luckily, our local partners agree with this problem. Each has hired their own sales force to onboard, train, and support their local clients.  Having local “boots on the ground” is imperative and our partners are crucial to the success of Pushlocal.

Problem #6: The price point for local businesses is less than $300, annually.  Point: Small businesses don’t want to spend a ton of money marketing.

Our solution: Fortunately for us, we have been able to show enough value to our business members that our subscription price has not become an issue.  We are always mindful about small-business budgets and are constantly looking for ways to improve our value proposition.

Problem #7: The app hasn’t raised several million dollars in financing. Point: Many of the larger players in local who have raised capital still can’t reach profitability. 

Our solution: Our solution for this is outlined in #1 – #6 above.  We aren’t venture funded, but we believe our licensing structure allows us to scale quickly while still providing personal support and concentrating on building an awesome product.

I had a great time going through this exercise and I’d like to thank Street Fight and Barkulis for the article and the opportunity to think through these issues.  Building a hyperlocal startup is a constant learning experience and I always welcome the opportunity for some schooling.

See something you disagree with?  Run your own local startup and want to connect?  Shoot me an email at zach@pushlocal.com or connected with us on Twitter.

People Who Need People

I got my first computer back around 1995 or so.  I was living in Los Angeles, a huge megatropolis in which I felt lost and lonely.  It’s funny how the bigger the city, the more isolated one can feel.  It’s difficult to find people who are interested in the same things you are, and when you do, chances are they live two hours away.  So when I learned I could talk to people all over the world on that little box, I was all over it.

So I joined Prodigy and discovered online chat.  I found a chat room called Arts & Writers and discovered a community of writers, poets and artists who shared their work and their ideas.  Friends were horrifed:  How can you know who they really are?  How can you be friends with someone you’ve never even met?

Everyone had a moniker.  I had several that I changed over time depending on the community I was chatting with.  Aaack (my last name was Ackerman), Wisterious, Cat, readhead and others.  And that anonymity was carefully guarded.  After all, this was new and all we were hearing about were horror stories of online dangers.

Well, there were one or two people who I was sure weren’t who or what they claimed to be, but most of them were just people like myself who wanted interesting conversation.  It’s been nearly 20 years and I still talk to many of the same folks I met that day when I turned on my computer and opened my life to a whole world of possibilities.  I’ve met several of them in person, but not all.  I’ve made friends all over the US, in New Zealand, Canada, England.  It’s amazing.  Several of my online friends have died, and I can say without hesitation that some of those losses hurt as much as any of my friends’ deaths.

These people opened my mind.  We talked politics, art, literature, children, recipes, pets — everything.  I’ve met people so brilliant it staggers the mind.  The funniest person I’ve ever met in my life was an online friend.   I think some of my friends who didn’t understand before now see how, yes, you can be friends with people you’ve never met.  I credit Facebook with that.

The good thing about Facebook is there are  no fake monikers, for the most part.  I do still read about people who put up fake photos and pretend to be someone they’re not, but I’m pretty sure that so far, I’m talking to the people I think I’m talking to.  The loss of anonymity tempers most people’s manners, including mine.  The fact that my parent’s friends are reading what I post makes me think twice about what I say, although not always.

Now, it’s not only the computer that offers this world of connection.  We chat on our telephones.  No matter where we are, we’re connected in a way that was impossible just a few years ago.

So I’m wondering if any of our readers have any stories to relate about their online experiences — the good and the bad.  Welcome to the future.  It’s sure to be an exciting ride.

Faster, smarter, easier…..

We released a Pushlocal v. 2.1 today for iPhone with some awesome new improvements….

Pushlocal is faster

You should immediately notice some significant speed improvements in the new version.  Everything should load more quickly and buttons should be more responsive!  No more waiting 10 seconds for your favorite lunch special to load!

Infinite scroll

You asked; we delivered.  No more clicking “Load more posts” when you want to view the feed.  Just scroll down and the new page will load automatically!

Introducing…… the city menu.

Now, instead of swiping, you can access your favorite cities

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Better navigation

After viewing a push, clicking the back button now takes you back to the appropriate feed instead of the last feed you were viewing.

There are several other small user interface improvements as well.  We’re working on these for Android at the moment, and once we conquer some design challenges, we’ll release those as well.

Thanks for reading!

The Pushlocal Team

New Cities….

Just to remind everyone, we just launched in Austin, Texas!  We have many more cities planned, so check the app regularly if you travel often and want to use Pushlocal on the road!

Now is a great time for a refresher on how adding/viewing new cities works within the app.

YoureNearNearYou

Pushlocal works really well for travelers.  When you reach a new city or are within 5 miles of one where Pushlocal is available, we’ll alert you in the app.  If you’ve already added a primary city, the new city will become your “Secondary city”.  By default, you’ll now receive notifications when businesses in the new city post, but only when you’re in the new city.  When you leave, we turn the push notifications off for you.

If you’re within 25 miles of any city where Pushlocal is available, it will also show up in the “Near you” tab of the “Add City Page”.

CitySettings

This is a shot of the individual settings page for Austin, Texas.  You can see that the Push Notifications are set to “When I’m There” when this city is Secondary. You can also change the setting to “Always” or “Never” based on your preferences.

Prim_Sec

On your “Settings” page, you can choose which city you want to be Primary/Secondary and delete cities you are no longer interested in by clicking the gear icon to the right of the city name.

NewCity

Once you add your first Secondary city, you can easily swipe between cities to get the information you want.

Most importantly, remember that you can add as many cities as you want and we’ll only deliver the notifications when you’re in that city.  We’re always working on ways to make sure you’re getting the most relevant information based on your preferences and location.

We have more cities coming every week, so keep checking!

The Pushlocal Team

 

 

 

 

We’re rolling out a few changes today…

1. As a business or non-profit owner, you can now post your pictures through to Facebook and Twitter!  This is honestly something that should have been done some time ago and has been highly requested, and we finally delivered!

2. We added a tutorial that walks our business users through their Dashboard and Account page.  This should get them up and running much more quickly!

WalkThrough

3. When you share a post from the app, any photo attachments will display at a much larger size.

We hope you enjoy! Stay tuned for some new app features launching next week.

The Pushlocal Team

Summer Pasta

Tomatoes & Brie with Linguini


(Photo by Elodie Pritchartt) 
It’s summertime!  Try this for an easy, healthy summertime meal.Tomatoes & Brie with Linguine

Okay. I admit it. I’m lazy. But I’ve also got very snobby  tastebuds. Pleeeease give me recipes that will indulge my inertia!

Here’s what I made last night:  tomatoes, lots of ‘em. Yesterday, I used a variety of organic yellow, orange and red cherry-sized, teardrop and plum tomatoes. Also used these little teeny, tiny tomatoes I’ve discovered  that are the sweetest I’ve ever tasted, and no bigger than a large
blueberry. They’re called Mini Charms and come from Victory Garden in Livermore, California.

1 lb. of Brie cheese, rind removed, torn into irregular pieces. (The lazy soul that I am, I also discovered Alouette brand, rindless Brie
cheese. It’s delicious and soft and comes in one of those little triangular packages. Find it with those potted Alouette cheese spreads.)

1 cup cleaned fresh basil leaves, cut into strips

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

1 cup best-quality olive oil

one-half teaspoons salt (I prefer coarse, Kosher salt. Just tastes better)

one-half teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

One-and-a-half pounds linguini (I like the fresh linguini, but am too lazy to make it myself, so I buy it at the market)

Freshly grated, imported Parmesan cheese (optional. I don’t use it.)

1. Combine tomatoes, Brie, basil, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in a large serving bowl. Prepare at least two hours before serving and set aside, covered, at room temperature.

2. Cook the linguini.

3. Spoon linguini into small serving bowl and (I use a slotted spoon, it’s very oily) spoon sauce onto the pasta and EAT!