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I love to see examples of grassroots innovation in local online marketing. One of my favorites is an e-newsletter from Sprocket Entertainment, the producers of a local comedy night in my hometown of Carlsbad, CA.

Sprocket is a start-up by two comedians that also produces shows in Spokane, WA. It gets people to sign up for the newsletter when they use PayPal to buy tickets to its once-a-month event at a renovated theater, which it bills as an alternative night out for “people who aren’t into loud music and pickup bar scenes.”

The e-newsletter was started to get people to sign up for Sprocket’s bronze, silver and gold packages. The business sponsor idea was probably an afterthought. “Reach a targeted audience in Southern California that loves to laugh and may need what a local vendor has to offer,” goes the pitch.

So far, Carlsbad Inn, Overstock Spas, Spoon Grill & Bar, and Tamarack Beach Resort have all signed up. From the looks of things, Sprocket is doing about as well with local advertisers as more concerted efforts by, a chain of beach town city guides.

I noticed also that Sprocket links into GoldStar Events, an event lister and discount ticket broker for 2,000 SoCal venues that has 315,000 people on its mailing list. Like Sprocket, GoldStar deliberately targets less raucous members of the community. It says that 80 percent of its users are women, and that the average age is 37. GoldStar typically lists 600 to 800 events apiece and has set up an event ad strip as a local media site alternative to Google AdSense.

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