Tacoma Urbanist

Aug. 25, 2008 at 12:09am

Success, Mishaps in Blogosphere Business Promotion

How Does One Promote their Business, Art Show, or "Cause" in the Tacoma Blogosphere?

The Red Hot succeeded in promoting their business by adding local content, a day in the life of running a restaurant, commentary, photos with the business menu to assemble dedicated patrons.  The picture above shows some of their coveted beer.

A.  Intro - The Tacoma Blogosphere

As the Tacoma online community has grown exponentially in the last couple of years, we have seen dozens of attempts to promote businesses, art events and causes through the Tacoma "blogoshpere" with spectacular successes to failures.  There are now over 100 blogs in Tacoma, many of them feeding into Feed Tacoma.

No doubt the best method will change and everyone with have their own approach. 

B.  How to Have A Meaningful Blog Post

In the early blogging days in Tacoma, Derek from Exit 133 and Kevin Freitas set the standard for creating a popular blog.  Its not that difficult.

At a bare minimum, one just needs is new information, or "content" or a view on existing information.  A picture or a drawing in the post bring alot of attraction too such as a house being knocked down or a runaway crane downtown.

On the other hand, simply cutting and pasting one's list of business services or event, art or otherwise, rarely creates much interest.

It doesn't take much time.  A short paragraph a a single picture will get your blog 2/3rds of the way there.

C.  Ineffectual Blogging

Simply cutting and pasting one's menu for a restaurant, service or raw art show does little to promote it.  Also, many people consider such posting as spam: advertising with no meaningful  content.  One is likely to get the same response as handing out business cards to strangers.

The best blogs usually have some casual conversation with unique dialog offered to the reader.  Readers are looking for context and the human element for your business, art show, or "cause."

D.  Best Business Promotional Blogger : The Red Hot

The Red Hot does it right.  On the one year anniversary, The Red Hot posted a number of pictures, a bike they are going to give away and a thank you to patrons:

Thanks to all who have supported us, and continue to do so! Your patronage is deeply appreciated......Your generosity is amazing. You all rule. Super-special Shizz-Tastic thanks go to all our staff. I have never met a group of insanely loyal and rabidly Red Hot fanatic people ever. We couldn’t have done it without you.

They then posted a list of the beers that they have for sale:

We’ll be open outside with more brew offerings and lots o’ seating. Our entire line-up looks like this:

Stone IPA
Lagunitas IPA
Deschutes Inversion IPA

As the Red Hot was being renovated, the owner posted updates and photos which showed the progress of the renovations.  By the time it was ready to open, The Red Hot already had a slew of followers and fans which they retain today.

Struggling Blogs

A. Youresthetician's Blog :

On the first post, the owner of "Youresthetician's Blog" simply cut and paste basic information on the location of the business and basic information.

On the second post, the owner, posted Q&A on microdermabrasion.

No doubt many Tacomans could use Appassionato's skin care services.  The problem was that the posts looked to be posting generic content with no context or interaction offered to readers.

The blog did get a bit better later on.  But the owner never posted a unique picture of what her business looks like so it got little attention from what I could see.

B.  Spencer's Troubled Blog "Spencer's Blog"

Spencer offers motivational coaching which given Tacoma's self esteem problems, is a potentially valuable service. I have high hopes for Spencer in the future.

However, Spencer made a number of mistakes. 

First, he didn't include any idea of what his business was in the name of his blog.

Second, he didn't include where he did business in Tacoma or elsewhere.

Third, though asked, he didn't provide any "content" concerning his service he offered.  What method would he employ to assist people to increase their income?

Fourth, he never provided a picture or sketch of anything.

Fifth, we didn't learn anything about the day in the life of how Spencer was handling clients or things he was facing.

Yet, it's not over for Spencer.  Every day is a new opportunity to post.

Good Promotional Blogging Examples in Tacoma

Want to promote your cause or business?  I suggest, reading through the following blogs:

The Blog        Comment

Beer and Hot Dogs (Perhaps the best business blogger promoter Tacoma)

Life of Elle
    (Huge cult following)

RR Cultural Arts (promoting Stadium Video)

Kevin Freitas (promoting Frost Park Chalk Off Art Events)

First Night On Feed Tacoma (Dedicated to promoting First Night)

Final Comments

The most successful businesses promotional efforts to date in the blogosphere have been restaurants.  The most famous was when Kevin Freitas and other bloggers incited a full scale flash mob at Mary's Burger's and Bistro.

Kevin really jumped on this one.  He a number of pre-opening posts, pictures of the burgers and his experience there.  Mary's was packed for days.

Kevin wrote:

As you may have seen yesterday, the place looks great. But how was the food? My sourdough grilled breakfast sandwich was nice 'n greasy with two eggs, bacon and melted cheese filling it up. Everything from bread slice to slice hit the spot and was only made better (and more sinful) with the side of ranch for dipping.
There were other blogs that jumped in as well.

Other than First Night and Frost Park, and RR Anderson's Tacomic show, I have seen few art shows or artists promoted well in the blogosphere.

It just takes 10 minutes, a small paragraph and a single picture leading up to a show.  Readers want to see a buildup a mini preview to the show, a view of the show itself and perhaps the post show view.  How is the show being prepared?  What does it look like?

Before you know it, you had an endless supply of swooning fans like The Red Hot, Marys Burger or Elle.

comments [20]  |  posted under tacoma


by Elle on 8/25/2008 @ 9:06am
Up until last year my reader base was mostly outside of Tacoma. Many in the city still don't know me or why I blog. Hell... I still don't know why myself. But I spoke at the Technology conference and my local readers skyrocketed.

As far as promoting my own business with my blog I lack that aspect. But my main readers are still outside of Tacoma (and moms).

Great tip Eric.

by NineInchNachos on 8/25/2008 @ 9:16am
red hot has an amazing assortment of products as well. the 6th ave dog is just a delight. My wife and I often walk 15 minutes at night (using a mighty baby stroller donated by tacoma's own Tacoma Urbanist) to absorb hotdogs and a fun atmosphere.

the skin lady and motivational hack seem more like google spammers than actual human beings.

mark briggs posted (a link) to a valuable 'how to make an interesting blog' blog post...



by NineInchNachos on 8/25/2008 @ 9:18am
it's to bad the trib bloggers don't listen more to mr. Briggs.


by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/25/2008 @ 9:45am
Being America's most Wired City you'd think we'd have this blogging thing down cold. The City needs to hire a blog squad to make sure the blogging is up to snuff.

by NineInchNachos on 8/25/2008 @ 10:02am
maybe we should pool our resources to hire an outside blog consultant to come in to our city, conduct a few surveys then present to us a powerpoint presentation with all the things that we already know need to be fixed. those help eh?

by Altered Chords on 8/25/2008 @ 10:19am
Great tutorial. I'm a novice and have not yet figured out how to get pictures on my brand new blog.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/25/2008 @ 10:20am
You think some one might be willing to do that for like $500k? Surely someone in Seattle would be willing to do this for us. It seems to me that we don't do anything in Tacoma until we pay someone some big bucks in Seattle to tell us what to do. In most cases they tell us to be more like Seattle. The really creative ones tell us to be more like Portland.

by Erik on 8/25/2008 @ 11:00am
Being America's most Wired City you'd think we'd have this blogging thing down cold.

Tacoma does do pretty well compared to other cities.

In other places there are usually just a few isolated blogs by malcontents which are hard to comment on, rarely updated and with very narrow interests and little content.

One of the benefits of Feed Tacoma is that once you are logged in you can comment on a number of blogs.

I'm a novice and have not yet figured out how to get pictures on my brand new blog.

Check the box that says "code view" then just use the code img src ="##" where ## is the url of the image you are using.

the skin lady and motivational hack seem more like google spammers than actual human beings.

Yep, however, Tacoma needs all sorts. Perhaps they will come up the blogging curve.

by intacoma on 8/25/2008 @ 11:06am
Starts with a great product, Redhot rocks enough said.

by morgan on 8/25/2008 @ 11:26am
Great post Erik! This reminds me of when we had the "Business Triage" meeting earlier this year. What a train wreck that was! I had no idea that the very host of the meeting - Stadium Bistro - had a particular interest in the subject of our autopsy, St. Helens Cafe.

Retail entrepreneurs are a funny breed. Some of them have a strong enough vision that matches the needs and wants of community they are in. But from what I've seen, many do not. A re-occurring theme I see are businesses opening with very little hype and very little connection or input from the community. Until Tacoma gets more density you really can't mess up when opening a retail business- you need to hit the ground running and it needs to operate at a very high level of service and quality. Once word gets out that you are serving crappy coffee or have employees with indifferent attitudes, you're sunk.

There is still a place for something like a triage group in Tacoma, but the irony is by the time it's needed, it's too late. The larger irony is that the business owner doesn't want advice that may save the business.

If I ruled the world, I would declare that capitalism be taught alongside math, English, and art - starting in elementary school. I don't think most Americans understand what it means to live in a capitalistic society.

by Altered Chords on 8/25/2008 @ 11:40am
Erik - thanks, So I need a URL to save the image to.

by Erik on 8/25/2008 @ 11:48am
Erik - thanks, So I need a URL to save the image to.

I would suggest you start a free account on Flickr and upload your photos there. Flickr is also nice as it format the picture perfectly to use on the internet. Plus, there are a ton of Tacomans with flickr accounts so you will plug in to alot of traffic.


Once your image is uploaded, just right click the mouse and select properties for the image url.

by morgan on 8/25/2008 @ 12:08pm
Here's an article written for social network organizing, but I would also apply this to business marketing.

Bringing your social media project to life: engagement planning

by dawntown on 8/25/2008 @ 2:28pm
Don't have time give my $5 on the subject, but I totally concur with Morgans first response on local businesses' need to "hit the ground running". It's not enough to just have a great idea anymore. You have to promote it, make it relevant to the community, etc. And, for many small start-ups, restaurants, etc., the owner will have to come up with ways to do that on their own in order to stay afloat for the first couple of years; no room in the budget, if any, to outsource. Which, doubly reinforces the need to connect with the community. See The Red Hot for example

by Erik on 8/25/2008 @ 4:03pm
Don't have time give my $5 on the subject, but I totally concur with Morgans first response on local businesses' need to "hit the ground running".

Yeah, the blogosphere can give great help at the start as well as some other informal advertising means.

Although it can't carry one through forever.

The Tacoma blogosphere gave Winfields a great boost at the start with Kevin leading the charge:

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago Winfield's and the Twisted Cue club will be opening soon. I stopped by for a tour from their HR manager Dawnn to snap some photos to share with y'all. CAUTION: LINKS AHEAD.

Just inside the doors there's a tall waiting area complete with a grand staircase and old piano. Off to the right are a couple offices and a recessed area with glass display case where Winfield's schwag will be on sale.


However, in the end, it didn't help enough. Winfields had too many "issues." The blogger flash mob were like lemmings falling off a cliff.


by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 8/25/2008 @ 6:24pm
I recall that Gringo de Loco had a pretty fancy web site and lots of good write ups on the local blog scene. Maybe blogging is not enough, maybe the businesses have to produce the goods and deliver them. I seem to recall businesses did pretty well before the internet. Maybe we don't have the power we think we have.

by Erik on 8/25/2008 @ 6:53pm
Maybe blogging is not enough, maybe the businesses have to produce the goods and deliver them.

Yeah, they died before they even got reviewed. Bizarre.

Maybe blogging is not enough, maybe the businesses have to produce the goods and deliver them.

It's not even close to enough. At best, its like a blast of wind underneath the wings. It can send a lot of new business fast to check them out. Pretty essential for small businesses which do not have a huge advertising budget and don't have the time to take 2 years to get the word out.

Then the business will either take off or crash and burn.

by morgan on 8/25/2008 @ 10:07pm
Also, the odds of a business failing increase proportionally with its use of fluorescent lighting.

by Mofo from the Hood on 8/26/2008 @ 3:14pm
I have read that business blog by Spencer. I think his product, self-help therapy, was a bit of a surprise. As I recall, he was pretty strong about his conviction that people could earn like $400,000.00 (Four Hundred Thousand Dollars) if they followed his plan.

Some folks who read his blog kind of made fun of him.

I'm not making a judgement; just an observation.

by NineInchNachos on 8/26/2008 @ 3:56pm
I started making $400K after reading spencers rainbow comments. but I blew the bulk of it on lotto/scratch tickets.

the potency of spencers message is not in dispute, but with great success comes great responsibility.