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29 April 2011

What in the World is a Neighborhood Content Strategy?

Being middle aged, I don’t really think of 10 years as a long time. But, based on the amount of changes, the last 10 years has brought in neighborhood marketing, it may be remembered for its Jurassic qualities.  Dinosaurs still marketing the same way they were 10 years ago may face extinction.

Every customer or potential customer is now on the Internet and turns less and less to newspapers, postcard mailers, yellow pages and the stuff us middle-aged dinosaurs used 10 years ago. The question ishow do you reach customers online where they spend their time? The first guess would be banner ads – but, banner ads don’t work or at least don’t work the way most people think.  The next guess might be deals – but, deals don’t work for every business and have their downsides as well. So what are dinosaurs fighting off extinction suppose to do?

Before I tell you the answer, let’s spend a little time understanding how people behave online. Think about the last time you went to Facebook, CNN or some other website. Now, try to recall the name of an advertiser you saw on that website? Don’t worry most can’t remember. Now, try to recall something you read – a wall post from friends, a news story about oil prices? This is a much easier task. That’s because, almost every person spends 99% of their online time focused on the content of a website and minimal time focused on the surrounding messages from advertisers. This idea is what underlies a neighborhood content strategy.

Content is something that tells a story. “Good” content is something we find interesting. “Bad” content is something we don’t. Content can be short like a Facebook post, medium like this article (hopefully you’re still reading) or long like a magazine article. Each subject has its own appropriate length and the definition of “good” and “bad” doesn’t change based on length or any other factor.

A neighborhood content strategy is a strategy that helps businesses get their name and stories out into the neighborhood they depend on for business. A content strategy is similar to public relations (PR), except that the form is quite different and there is no editor in the way.  A content strategy provides stories to the neighborhood that readers can act on or tell their friends about. When properly done it turns business opportunities into interesting stories. For example which of the stories would you most like to read:

  • “New Shipment of Shoes Now In” or “The Best Shoes for Jogging in Caruth Park”
  • “Builder Receives Award” or “Neighborhood Family Loves Their New Home”
  • “New Dentist Opens Door” or “When Should My Kids Start Brushing Their Teeth?”

The first example in each of the above is similar to the PR style – business or event focused. The second example in each of the above is focused on the reader – something that they might find interesting. A content strategy’s goal isn’t to get your content out, it’s to get your content read.

So, the evolutionary story now reads something like this, after dinosaurs roamed the earth, a new species of content creators emerged that made their businesses interesting. And that is what a neighborhood content strategy is all about.

Jeff is the President and CEO of BubbleLife Media, the publisher of, DFW's largest neighborhood news source, and a leading provider of neighborhood marketing solutions. Jeff has always been a technology entrepreneur including founding and leading one company that ranked 26th on Inc. Magazine’s list of Fastest Growing Private Companies, held an IPO and sold to McAfee.