Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Best Kept Secret

Back in 2011, someone made a 21-second video called "Norristown, Best Kept Secret."  On YouTube, the video got a mere 6 views, so it's safe to say even that little ad was kept secret.

Why is it so hard to get the message out that we've got restaurants, attractions and festivals that make Norristown worth the trip? The main answer is, WE DO IT OURSELVES.

When I started working for the Norristown Business Association, I looked around the internet to see how and where our businesses were promoting themselves online. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram give small businesses a free tool to reach their local community. I was surprised to learn how many of Norristown's small businesses don't use social media at all, or do it so half-heartedly, they might as well not be there.

We have nearly 60 eateries in Norristown. About half have a Facebook page. Maybe 5 of those actually post to their page regularly and do a decent job promoting their businesses. The rest apparently assume that because the page exists, people will somehow magically see it. Having a Facebook page that's not set up right and/or ignored after you set it up is like having no Facebook page at all.

So last night at Jus' Java, I led a business seminar for the Norristown Business Association called "Using Facebook to promote your business." When we posted news of it at various places online in the last few weeks, we got a great response. Everyone thought it was a great idea. Twelve people on Facebook alone said they'd come to it. In the end, 3 people showed up. And they weren't the businesses who needed it.

Meantime, I can't turn on TV without seeing McDonalds or Sonic or Dunkin Donuts ads. So people go to them instead of our family-owned restaurants, not because they have better food, but simply because people know about those chains and not about our small places. They have better promotion.

It takes maybe 5 minutes a day for our restaurants to post a photo of something on their menu. I guarantee, when I see photos of food from places like Zachary's (the cookie above is from their page), Jus' Java, La Michoacana, etc., I don't crave a pitiful burger from Mickey D's. Click on the links for those pages and tell me those photos aren't effective.

So here's the deal, pass this on to your favorite Norristown small businesses. Tell them I'll repeat this seminar at a time and place convenient to the most people. All they have to do is leave a comment here, or on Facebook or Twitter, or send an email to and say they want another Facebook seminar.

But let's not keep Norristown as the Best Kept Secret anymore. It's killing our economy. Let's get the word out.

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