Local University has just launched Local U Forums. Local University holds in-person events about how to market local businesses online, across the United States. Its new Forums are a way to extend that education to an online venue.
If you are not able to attend in-person events, or want to stay up to speed on local marketing throughout the year, you can visit the Local U Forums, 24/7. David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal, co-founders of Local University, emphasize that the Local U Forums are designed to teach small business owners and managers, as well as marketing and SEO professionals.
Access to Local Marketing Experts
Local U is an exclusive private forum in the sense that you must buy a subscription to join. That’s good for getting high quality information. I’ve been a Moderator at another niche private forum for 5 years, and the quality of what I’ve learned is consistently high. The information tends to be reliable.
Local U’s Moderators are local marketing experts of some note. According to Mike Blumenthal:
“We wanted to provide an environment where it was clear the answers would be coming from folks that were knowledgeable about local marketing.”
Forum Moderators you may run into include the likes of Andrew Shotland, Carrie Hill, Phil Rozek, Dan Austin, Darren Shaw and Nyagoslav Zhekov. There are even two people whose expertise is so well known online, they need only single names: Helmut and Treebles.
Forums are superb for networking, too. If you want to get to know the movers and shakers in a field, join a niche forum. Niche forums, especially subscription-only ones, are intimate. That increases the chances of getting to know people personally.
The Forums resulted from a lot of planning by the faculty of Local U. The group, said Blumenthal:
“. . .had long discussions about the pros and cons and whether we could sustain the effort. We conceived of it at our first meeting as a new company early in 2013. Mike Ramsey of Nifty Marketing, David Mihm of Moz & Ed Reese of 6th Man Marketing started building it out with technology and content around June of this past year.”
Access to Educational Materials
A membership in the Forums gives access to educational materials not available elsewhere.
“We recorded and produced our complete Local U Advanced Seminar from Seattle and have made that available to all participants. We partnered up with MOZ and spent a fair bit of time producing mini topic videos, ” said Blumenthal. You will also find research material that is not available publicly, such as a study about which sites consumers actually visit to find local businesses. And exclusive Google hangouts will be available for members only. (More background here.)
Content and time are never truly free. Another reason Local University is charging a subscription is to underwrite the cost of creating training materials, Blumenthal noted:
“Education … has always been our objective. But we felt to provide the level of quality that we wanted required a revenue stream.”
Subscriptions for the first 50 members are $99/month. After that, the price likely will go up, Blumenthal and Mihm say.
However, as with anything, it’s best to look not only at the cost, but at what you can get back. The real question is, by becoming smarter about local marketing, how many more sales can you drive to your local business from the Web and mobile? And will those sales pay for the cost, and drive growth and profits?
Image: Local UMore in: Small Business Growth