free html hit counter The Case for Local Conversation: Saving Corbet's Hardware (Latest Open Forum Post) - John Battelle's Search Blog

The Case for Local Conversation: Saving Corbet's Hardware (Latest Open Forum Post)

By - September 28, 2008

Corbets (image credit Marin IJ)

I’ve just posted my latest missive on the American Express Open Forum blog, where I Think Out Loud about my local hardware business, which just might be forced out of business. It’s titled “Think Local, Act Conversational – It Just Might Save Your Business.” From it:

Corbet’s Hardware is my neighborhood hardware store, it’s something of a local legend. Let’s see what happens when I put it into Google (I omitted the apostrophe, as most folks do).

Interesting. First up is a link from “zinsser.com”, which appears to be some kind of a shellac company (no, really, a company that makes shellac). Corbet’s probably carries their products – the Zinsser site lists its distributors – but man, what on earth is that doing being first? Clearly, Corbet’s has not exactly joined the conversation economy quite yet.

Put another way, the very first link for Corbet’s is not Corbet’s own website (the store does not seem to have one), it’s some random supplier of Corbet’s. This is not a good thing.

Second up is a very nice profile of Corbet’s in the local paper. Third is another link from the paper about the store moving. A credit to the store, for sure. But it’s not really very conversational (for more on why I think “conversational” is so important, read this).

Fourth is a link from “ziphip.com”, which looks like some kind of listings directory (or more cynically, an Adsense honeypot). Nothing really useful for a potential customer of Corbet’s – nothing conversational or particularly trustworthy…..

….But imagine, if you would, that Corbet’s had a blog, and used that blog to talk about its business. The folks at Corbet’s could post about weekly specials, tips on home improvement, best approaches to pest control, and all the stuff that brings customers into the store. Oh, and by the way, it could leverage all its built in good will to drive its customers toward the Larkspur City Council, who, in the end, will determine whether or not Corbet’s will continue as a business – if Corbet’s doesn’t get that zoning change, it can’t afford to stay open. Ouch!

Given how sparse and poorly connected the first few links for “Corbets hardware” currently are, it’s clear that such a blog would come in first, and possibly second, third, and fourth, in any Google search. Add a Twitter account, and you’re nearly guaranteed to be a major force in any web-based conversation around your business. (In fact, I’d be willing to bet that within a few weeks, this blog post may well rank in the top ten for a search about Corbet’s…).

In short, by joining the conversation, Corbet’s would get a chance to shape it. And by shaping it, it just might ensure its future. Which leads me to ask: Has your business joined the conversation? You might consider doing so, before it’s too late.

Read the whole post here


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One thought on “The Case for Local Conversation: Saving Corbet's Hardware (Latest Open Forum Post)

  1. And now you’re going to be #1 for Corbet’s.. but seriously what they should do is great a landing page with the store’s basic information- address and hours; then submit to local directories like citysearch. Total cost and time is extremely minimal.