Friday, November 29, 2013

Small Business Saturday

I find Black Friday frustrating. I posted a ton of coupons and sales for the event, but I just don't get any Black Friday traffic.

My big hope is a new marketing event called "Small Business Saturday."

Small Business Saturday was coined by American Express in 2010.

The fact that "Small Business Friday" was invented by a huge financial firm is one of those ironies of business.

As a huge financial firm selling merchant services, American Express simply must find ways present itself as friendly to small business.

While the origins of Small Business Saturday is questionable, it is a good idea. Come on. Mothers Day was the creation of Macys.. The fact that an store set on world domination created Mothers' Day does not change the fact that we all love our moms.

Small Business Saturday is a great idea.

During the holiday season there is a great deal of attention on Black Friday Sales held by big box stores and on the Cyber Monday sales held online.

This marketing attention leaves out all of the small Main Street merchants and small businesses which are the bedrock of the community.

Declaring the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday as "Small Business Saturday" focuses some attention on the small merchants.

I realized that the Internet age was harming small business long before the Small Business Saturday. Way back in 2000 I started creating local directories to help focus some on small businesses. The first directories were for towns in Idaho and Montana. I gave away all but Missoula.WS.

I moved back to Salt Lake for the 2002 Winter Games.

I happen to be a third generation native of Colorado, and decided to make directories for my home town of Denver (I grew up in Lakewood) and Boulder County (We lived in Longmont for a bit).

The goal of the Community Color directories is simply to list every web site I can find for select towns in the Mountain West. I don't limit myself to business. I start by listing art sites and include blogs, campaign sites, church web sites, community resources and what not.

The goal of this project is to show how the diversity of small communities is reflected online.

To fund the project, I do the following: If a web site has an affiliate program. I join the affiliate program and post the affiliate links. I also joined the affiliate programs of big stores like Walmart and Target.

Big box stores are still part of the community too. They have employees and the stores support community functions.

The affiliate links go through a redirect program lnk.php which I block in robots.txt. The affiliate links get a worse treatment than straight links for small business.

My hope was that the affiliate links would provide enough income to sustain the community directories. This worked up until two years ago when Google set its eyes on dominating local search traffic. Such is life.

My big hope this holiday is that I might attract some attention this Small Business Saturday.

Essentially, I have two collections of local directories. The Utah Color directories focus on the Beehive State. The Colorado Directories focus on the Mile High State. I recently purchased the domain and I have directories for Cheyenne and Laramie.

The directories contain some 27,000 active links. The links include blogs, restaurants, churches, artists, musicians, dancers, schools and small businesses. Through the years, I've pulled 11,000 broken links. Yes, about a third of the web sites I've listed have gone dark. It is really sad.

My hope for this weekend is that people living in the Mountain West who are interested in supporting the small businesses in their community will visit the web site for their town and might consider linking to the site or tweeting about it.

The web sites are friendly to the local community. I list every site I can find. I list Democrats and Republicans, I list small business and big business. I list artists and athletes. The only sites I avoid are porn sites and hate sites (well if you are a Democrat who hates Republicans or a Republican who hates Democrats, that's okay 'cause that's the just the way partisan politics works).

Some people are really upset at the fact that I list affiliate links. I think this is a good funding source. These programs obviously have a marketing budget. I use that marketing budget to provide free local listings for community services, artists and smaller businesses without such a budget.

Linking to the local directory helps support web sites from the local community. I posted Black Friday and Cyber Monday coupons on a coupon site called This is just a way to fund the local sites.

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