Taking “Local” to a New Level

Supportland – What is it?

Is Supportland another attempt to keep Portland weird?  No, Supportland is a very real business concept that spouted here in Portland and has the potential to spread its wings, that is, if it delivers.  Another marketing tool for small business. Readers of today’s The Oregonian’s Business Section saw a piece on Supportland, a locally created network that allows area retailers to reward their customers with points that can be cashed at other participating Supportland retailers.  Think of it as a frequent customer reward card with a touch of steriods.  You know the cardboard versions that the retailer punches at your favorite coffee shop?  Okay, take that concept and expand it.  Instead of cardboard, think plastic.  And instead of the rewards being limited to just your coffee shop, imagine that your customers could cash in your rewards with other local area Supportland vendors.  Then add some social and net media omphs like Facebook and an iPhone app and you’ve got an interesting product for consumers and small businesses alike.

I love the idea of supporting local area vendors and certainly attempt to do my part whenever I need to purchase something.  Plus, the idea of local area retailers supporting other retailers is a nice extension of that concept.  Most business owners realize that if their store front or business is in a vibrant area, the halo of that activity naturally extends to and benefits their business as well.  This sounds like a pretty cool idea, but, as we all know there is no FREE lunch.

Participating businesses pay $49 a month to participate in Supportland.  However, when I think about the cost of newspaper advertising in The Oregonian or a business listing on CitySearch and other online busines directories, this price tag seems pretty reasonable.  In return, businesses are able to tap into neighboring retailers’ customer bases and there is the ability to tailor your own promotions to a audience larger than your own customer database.

I plan to interview some of the participating retailers in the next few weeks and I’ll share what I find out, so check back to see what I discover.  In the meantime, if you’re interested in exploring Supportland further, check out the video below and to find out more, or to pre-register as a Supportland Retailer, visit the site.

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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