SkyBlox, Citysearch & Yelp Holding Town Hall Meetings

July 13th, 2009 by Michael

Ever since we started SkyBlox in late 2007, we've been thrust into the local online media scene and become de facto experts in the process. Always looking to support local businesses we teamed up with our friends over at Citysearch and Yelp in the past few months to conduct social media town hall meetings at local chambers of commerce and business associations.

The main theme of the sessions is how local businesses/neighborhoods should best wade their way through the wild west that is social online media. Many businesses are participating, but not efficiently in most cases. Simply participating at a basic level doesn't guarantee positive results. It has to be done right. And we think we have some helpful ideas. The ideas and thoughts have been well received by the neighborhood businesses so we put together a primer. Here's a summary.

#1 Your website is fine, but it is becoming less useful. Aggregation websites (e.g. Citysearch) and new technology (e.g. text messages) are more relevant to your target customers. Your customers are rarely going to your individual website. Google yourself and see what websites come up in the top three: it’s often not your website, rather Yelp or Citysearch.

#2 Setup a Twitter account. Twitter is the fastest growing online tool right now and it’s 100% free. Setting-up an account only takes a few minutes. Once you do, search for people in your neighborhood (or interested in your neighborhood) and follow them.

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#3 Use the free tools offered by Yelp. Go to www.yelp.com/business to set up your free account and claim your business’ page. Upload pictures of your business, check to make sure your address, website, and store hours are correct. Send private messages or post publicly in response to your reviewers.

#4 Setup a free SkyBlox account. Whatever you broadcast will be seen in their 100+ hotspots around Atlanta. And if you offer Wi-Fi, you might want to consider their Wi-Fi marketing. Besides being able to advertise in real-time to your Wi-Fi users, SkyBlox Wi-Fi allows you to gather email addresses from your Wi-Fi users (e.g. iPhones) for your email newsletter.

#5 Facebook can be great for invites to events. It takes just a few clicks to set up an event, then invite everyone you are friends with to come, which then gives you yes-no-maybe boxes like an evite.

#6 With all of these online tools, the content should be relevant to your customers and you should be having fun putting it out. If not, it’s unlikely that your customers will care about it.

And the most basic, but effective tool…

#7 If you don’t already have one, email newsletters are very popular and effective and there are lots of programs (e.g. Constant Contact) that make them very easy to produce. Even if your newsletter is a monthly sent to your basic friends and family, this still gets the word out in one quick note.

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Posted in Advertising, Michael, neighborhoods, thoughts, twitter | 1 Comment »

Coincidence? We Think Not…

January 9th, 2009 by dave

At the end of every day I search the Internet for stories about Wi-Fi. Most days the stories don't tell much of a narrative, but today I ran across three articles in a row that – read together – provide a good snapshot of where Wi-Fi is going in 2009 (and why more local businesses should promote it).

The first story comes from the yearly mega-convention that is currently happening in Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Show. Sarah Reedy, a reporter for TelephonyOnline, reports that Wi-Fi on handheld devices grew 26% in 2008! Analyst believe that in the next few years there will be two handheld Wi-Fi devices per person in the United States.

The second story by PJ Jacobowitz in PCMag.com describes Sony's new Wi-Fi camera. What makes this one special is a fully-functioning browser, allowing this camera to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots like SkyBlox.

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Finally, I ran across an article by Sewell Chan in The New York Times about the outdoor Wi-Fi networks that are being closed in New York City. I could spend hours reading about the failure of outdoor Wi-Fi networks, but this one does just fine. Bottom line…outdoor Wi-Fi does not have a viable business case. What does this mean to small businesses? Your Wi-Fi is becoming more valuable to your customers by the day!

Taken together, these articles paint a picture of a world where phones, gaming devices, cameras, etc all have Wi-Fi, but access to free Wi-Fi is decreasing, so more-and-more consumers will choose neighborhoods and local businesses based on access to free Wi-Fi for all of their cool devices.

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Posted in future, thoughts | 1 Comment »

How To Weather The Rough Economy

December 1st, 2008 by dave

We recently ran

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across Scott Trubey's Atlanta Business Chronicle article on how restaurants are using creative deals & specials to weather the current downturn.

Now that we are officially in a recession, we believe more and more local businesses will have to be creative. Just last week we met with a local salon owner that told us that he has completely cut all citywide advertising. He is only using two tactics this month…SkyBlox and the Agnes Scott newspaper (a nearby college).

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We hear the same things more-and-more around town…”inexpensive,” “targeted advertising,” “potential customers within a few miles of my business.”

For the same price as one small weekly placement in Creative Loafing you can receive an entire year of SkyBlox Wi-Fi Marketing! There is nothing more local, targeted and cost-effective.

Or create an account and post for free! Why would anyone turn down free advertising in this economy?

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You can be a fine term paper writer with brilliant skills. But if you can’t be both fast and effective, you’d better use competent term paper writing aid. In the end you get a genuine work written from scratch. Mind that to get it you spend only 15 minutes and then simply wait until your term paper writer finishes it.

Posted in Advertising, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Dave, General, thoughts | Comments Off

Local Print Advertising

October 2nd, 2008 by dave

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Earlier this week Creative Loafing filed for bankruptcy. This caused the SkyBlox team to pull out all of the data we have collected on local print advertising. Having talked with hundreds of neighborhood businesses around Atlanta, we figured we knew at least a thing or two worth passing along.

In Atlanta the two most popular local providers are Creative Loafing and Savvy Shopper.

Creative Loafing recently charged one of our customers $289 per week and required them to sign-up for a thirteen week commitment. So for the low, low price of $3,757 this neighborhood coffee shop was able to put a business card-sized coupon in the back of Creative Loafing for thirteen weeks. During this period one coupon was redeemed.

On a more positive note, Savvy Shopper recently charged one of our customers $400 for a half-page ad (consisting of four coupons) in one of their editions. This placement was more successful – four coupons were redeemed.

We realize that local print advertising does more than drive customers in measurable ways. Much of it is about driving awareness and planting a seed for consumers to return multiple times. And most local businesses have a modest monthly advertising budget that needs to be used.

The problem is that our current economic situation is causing two major shifts in the local landscape. First, small businesses are having to find cheaper and more targeted ways to advertise. And second, the gas situation and bad economy are causing consumers to increasingly work from home (or from their neighborhood business) and seek-out deals near their homes.

At SkyBlox we don't stack piles & piles of weekly newspapers on sidewalks. And we don't send out tens of thousands of mailers across Atlanta each month. We are more targeted, like advertising in an airplane or an elevator. We might not touch as many people across the city as these organizations, but we touch the ones that are most likely to buy from neighborhood businesses. And for $35 there's no better, more targeted advertising available anywhere.

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Posted in Advertising, thoughts | 2 Comments »

SkyBlox is the Largest Wi-Fi Hotspot Provider in Atlanta

August 20th, 2008 by dave

As of last week SkyBlox has more Wi-Fi hotspots in Atlanta than any other provider! We would have made a bigger deal of this (with a party or something) if we weren't spending all of our time with new customers!?!?

As happy as I am with our success and proud I am of the team, you can't discuss Wi-Fi in Atlanta without first discussing the contribution of Ripple (previously 3rd Wave HotSpot) and their gifted founder Mike Landman.

When Mike began providing free Wi-Fi in 2004, Atlanta was ranked dead last in a list of U.S. cities for free wireless hotspots. Due largely to his efforts, we are now #3 in Forbes! And this doesn't even take into account all the goodness that has come from our knowledge workers having lots of free Wi-Fi…how many startups have been founded in Octane???

We are extremely proud to now be Atlanta's largest Wi-Fi provider and we are dedicating all of our resources to helping businesses use Wi-Fi in powerful new ways.

Atlanta, you haven't seen nothing yet…

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Posted in Dave, General, thoughts | 2 Comments »

Wi-Fi: 21st Century Sandwich Boards?

April 16th, 2008 by Michael

We've been spending a bunch of time in Atlanta's Virginia-Highland neighborhood recently as we launch our pilot this month. One of the many things we've observed is how many sandwich boards are propped up outside the various businesses. According to Wikipedia a sandwich board is:

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“a type of advertisement composed of two boards that is set up (for example next to a store advertising its goods) in a triangle shape, hinged along the top. Sandwich boards were most popular in the 19th century, and have largely been supplanted by billboards, which are more effective in advertising to passers-by who are now likely to be in automobiles, rather than traveling by foot.”

Even before we noticed all the Virginia-Highland sandwich boards, we always thought of ourselves as a “virtual sandwich board.” Or actually, a sandwich board on HGH (this is the steroid age after all). When you're either in, or on the sidewalk outside, a store offering SkyBlox Wi-Fi, you're able to see a sandwich board-like message on our portal homepage (aka the Community Message Board).

Businesses offering our Wi-Fi can take comfort in knowing that someone accessing the Message Board is either in your store, right around the corner or, at the very least, interested in visiting your neighborhood.

If sandwich boards were popular due to foot traffic in the 19th century and billboards took off as a result of car traffic in the 20th century, we bet that our hotspot homepage will be met with the same success due to Wi-Fi traffic in the 21st century.

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Posted in General, Michael, thoughts | Comments Off