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 U
I am wondering how they are addressing the new updates from Google. It is one thing to teach people how to market their local business but it is another thing to market with the recent algorithm changes on the search engines.
I love what the LocalU guys are doing and I think this is a great extension of the community, especially those in outlying areas that would have had to travel considerable distances to attend the live events.
Thanks for the kind words, Robert! We’re excited for the conversations.
@Aira, no doubt about it — the frequency of algorithm updates is one of the reasons we felt the need to launch the forums. There are only so many questions around the changes in search engine marketing that we can answer in our typical four-hour sessions. 🙂
Is the forum open to those outside the US. Some people might have businesses they’d like to market in the US, for instance.
So, is it?
Ebele, the forums are most definitely open to people from all over the world. If memory serves, I believe we have a German and two Britons already in the forums.
OK. Great. Thanks, David. Was just curious and also wanted to ask in case there were any readers that might have the same question.
Congrats on the launch 🙂
I think this is a great idea and businesses of all sorts can get a good deal from it. The monthly subscription is a little steep I think, but in the long run, I would say it would eventually pay off.
David, I have attended Local U advanced courses in the past (which are great) and I will be attending again this March in Philadelphia. Is this forum mainly for small businesses. Will agencies be joining?
Let me just say I am a member and have already posted a few questions and gotten some amazing ideas. Also they have recordings of their advanced sessions. Priceless. Now the only thing I need is for them to all agree when they post a response. But the debate is well worth it. I look forward to when the forum lets you vote up a response as some of the users have no clue what they are talking about. Luckily its heavily moderated and you always get a good answer from the LocalU staff. Thanks Mike’s, David and the rest for this!
Too bad the subscription price is so high, it leaves small business’ like myself out.
I’m not trying to become the sales rep for the Local U Forums, but… $100 (or $200 even) a month, is nothing for a growth-oriented small business. I really think you have to look at the benefits to be gained from the knowledge — it could be worth tens of thousands of dollars. And compare what some businesses spend on local listings, advertisements in local newspapers and magazines, and even Google AdWords. It’s a drop in the bucket.
It’s just like starting a business and your initial investment in the business. “It’s not about what you spend, but about what you get.”
@Gary, Yep, probably about 90% of our 35 or so members thus far are agency representatives or consultants.
To Mike’s point, there are a few small businesses but they are mostly in high-margin industries like legal where a higher price point still makes sense relative to the value of an additional customer to those businesses.
Thanks for all the great comments, everyone!