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January 20, 2010, 01:47 PM
Welcome back Marty - from someone who occasionally goes mia himself every now and then. :)

I think the idea of a local video site is great and it's something I've been toying with for forever - you've gotten some great tips from the others here already, but I'll add my thoughts and you're free to take what you like and leave what you dont.

For starters, I've never really liked those city america type sites 'cause I thought they had too much fluff and not enough real content. In my area there are no shortage of sites that list name, address and phone for everyone in town...but I've already got the yellow pages for that, why do the same thing while providing little else to stand out from your competition?

If I can get myself together here's the plan for what I want to do. Using wordpress you can get a great community site together. Offer local businesses a free webpage with a couple of photos and paragraphs. Everyone else will give 'em just a name, address and phone for free - here you can provide something of real value to them and your cost is next to nothing.

Offering a free detailed listing gives you a way to get a foot in the door and find out who the owner/manager of the place is, and it increases the odds they'll reciprocate and have more interest in what ever additional services you'ld like to sell them.

Now if you're going to offer video, please offer them real video - move still photos around and add music to it and you'll get a nice slideshow...but it's not a real video! Sure, you can do some creative things with sites like animoto...but that's still not real video in my book and it's something a business owner could easily do themselves.

If you're going to do video learn how to do it right, but you don't need to spend a fortune to get started. For $200 or less you can get a decent FLIP cam or a still digital cam that will also take video clips - and you can find free video editing software out there, or download a 30 day trial of something more powerful like Sony Vegas Platinum Pro. Make one sale and you've paid for the full version which goes for about $70 retail or less when they offer rebates. Spend $60 on a decent video tripod and for less than $300 total you'll have all the basics you need and you can upgrade as you go.

Just know that proper sound is important for great video and as soon as you can you might want to upgrade to a camera that'll let you plug in an external wired or wireless mike.

As far as pricing goes - my thoughts for a 1 minute video where I'm interviewing the owner while showing shots of their products services in the background - would be $30/month paid up front for the first year ($360) then continuing monthly after that. I think thats affordable enough that many people would want one just because they know their competitors have one, and if it results in just one or two new clients for them, it's paid for itself. I'ld also let them use the video on their website too in addition to listing it on their profile on the community site.

Take a look at some real professional video at www. bostonweb.tv - he charges $500 for a slightly longer commercial (2 - 5 min) but then they own it outright. I think you'll have to test and see what works best in your area, but when its so inexpensive to host video these days, I couldn't think of charging someone an arm and a leg to host it on my site...unless you can deliver them plenty of pageviews and new clients on a regular basis.

Oh, and for the $30/month i would think of charging someone, I'd also let them contribute informative articles to the website - the kind of thing that would really educate their clients and prospects and add value to my site while helping the search engines find it too.

Of course, once you've got that foot in the door with a free listing there are all kinds of other things you can sell them besides video. Email marketing help, web design for those that dont have one or want to redo their site, direct mail marketing - get your foot in the door as a trusted advisor and there's no shortage of ways you can profit from your relationship.

I'd also ask the businesses you signup for free to display or hand out flyers for your site where their customers can find them online - and you should also build two email lists of your own. One of the businesses you signup so you have an easy way of contacting all of them and can eventually sell advertising in it - and one of the locals that come to your site so you can provide them with info and special offers from the businesses on your site (and of course charge the businesses for advertising in it too!)

Sorry if I'm all over the place with all these ideas here, but hopefully you can find something of value in this.


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