Hyperlocal models continue experimenting with ways to make it work on a standalone basis. Networks, e-commerce and other revenue streams have all been tested. Backfence vet Mark Potts has even set up GrowthSpur as a consulting firm and national network specifically to leverage the clout of hyperlocal sites.
A new approach is being tested in Sacramento, where Sacramento Press is blending its hyperlocal site with reputation and presence management for local SMBs. Owned by five locals with deep local roots, the site has been feeling its way around how to develop a winning hyperlocal model.
First, it ruled out providing a directory, since it was already well handled in town by The Downtown Grid. Instead, it has linked to The Downtown Grid and focused on community journalism, hiring three full-time editors and launching a homegrown CMS that is based on tags instead of categories for both advertisers and content. The CMS lets advertisers pick and choose which content they want to be associated with. For instance, religious groups can blog certain placements.
Since it started selling advertising in February, the team’s two-person sales staff has successfully landed 30 advertisers. Most of the advertisers are on six-month contracts, with many of them sponsoring specific sections of the site.
Now the company is eyeing broader relationships with the advertisers, many of which have expressed the need for deeper online help. Specifically, advertisers can leverage Sacramento Press’ expertise in social media. Six advertisers have already been upsold to broader programs that include Web site help, social media support, reputation management and video.
The company’s intent is not to go so far as to write blog posts for companies, but it will handle Twitter feeds and video content. The packaging of services has allowed average accounts to float upward from an average of $600 per month, and $1,000 is the sweet spot that is eyed. The local iMax big screen theater, for instance, was one of the first of its enhanced advertisers.
In addition to Web support and promotion, the company is also providing Street Team “engagement on the ground” support for local events such as fairs and concerts — something we’ve also just seen introduced by Village Voice Media.
Sacramento Press Cofounder and President Ben Ilfeld, 28 years old, tells us that once the company thinks it has fully developed its base in Sacramento, it will look to expand by bringing the CMS and business model to other markets. He is especially eyeing cable companies as partners.
The company also has partnered with Cox’s Adify, the vertical network company, for tech support to reach beyond its downtown roots to create a broader regional presence. Eighteen blogs and forums that are “all local and independent” make up the network– much like Next Door Media in Seattle, which comprises five adjacent neighborhood sites. Ilfeld expects the sites’ combined reach to ultimately be comparable to the reach of McClatchy’s Sacramento Bee, which has traditionally dominated Sacramento media.