Our original goal was to increase awareness of what is available, and what is going on in, Squirrel Hill, and to promote the businesses "off Forbes" which seem to be forgotten in almost every other marketing or promotional effort.
To that end, we offered Murray Avenue businesses between Forbes and Morrowfield a free basic listing, and standard services. Additional services were available at standard rates. We also offered listings to some business off Murray/Forbes but still in Squirrel hill.
While our mission hasn't changed, The Squirrel Hill News is now part of the BestOfTheBurgh.com network. The Best of the Burgh is an edited, reviewed, and paid model, with slightly upgraded features for everyone. Not all businesses will be listed, and not every business we approach will choose to join. But, those that do, will be pre-screened, and willing to invest in themselves to be "The Best of the Burgh."
How did we come up with this idea?
This is edited from our original 2004 opening statement, so please adjust dates/events back to that time.
When we opened our Rock & Bead Shop, I realized that there was very little communication in and around the Squirrel Hill area between the businesses, and especially the businesses off Forbes, on the lower Murray Avenue area. The "Forgotten" Hill.
People who had walked past our door for years, didn't notice we had opened up, and even merchants up the block had employees who 2 years after we opened, didn't know we were here! The day I set this site up, we had a customer who had walked past our door for months, and never looked in. He came in with friends, and was beside himself with excitement -- "I never knew...!"
I'm sure we are not the only ones in this situation, and with the tough economic times ahead, and the penny pinching that is going to occur both from customers, and from businesses not able to justify big money on advertising, some sort of cooperative, effective, low-cost, fun and EFFECTIVE (yep, again), method for promoting your business, and the local community was needed. [Editor's Note: Times were tough even before times were tough!!]
A printed circular was always an option. But years in printing have taught me a few things. It's over priced, not very effective, short-term, and only hits once. Even old copies laying around, really only hit once. The "repeat" effect everyone talks about, is not as great as they want you to believe. People are leery of old ads, so they will always look for a newer issue -- or today, turn to the Internet. [Editor Note: We have gone to a "brochure" format for our publications, which works to keep things "Fresh" and in view for months!]
The Internet, when properly used, can be a LOW COST, HIGH YIELD means to gain new customers, retain old customers, and simply generate a better relationship with your customers.
The SquirrelHillNews.com site hopes to be that bridge.
PUGDOG Enterprises, Inc. has a long history on the Internet, which we won't get into here, but our primary on-line business is database-backed website development, like this site. We have some great partnerships with technology firms and people committed to making the best on-line products available.
We have a network of sites, including many new local sites like TheSouthSideBuzz.com, which help increase the visibility of all the sites in the network, and increase the rankings with the search engines. Keyword targeting also helps to increase visibility and generate solid search engine rankings that don't change greatly with each round of spam-combating updates.
The advertising areas will be supplemented with local news stories, hopefully submitted by community involvement, and which draw in eyeballs.
You will be able to maintain and update your own page, and to offer coupons, and incentives to bring people in. We have a new site in the works for offering local coupons, via our IncrediBuy.com site. If you have your own website, you can link back to it, and help increase it's visibility. As time goes on, we'll be adding in new features to allow you to communicate more directly to your customers.
Please look around the site, and give us your feedback. Right now it's just this welcome page, but in the next week or two, it will have a fully functional database, coupon manager, and more. For bit of what software we have developed, check out the UltraNerds.com site.
Our goal is to make this an active community site, a niche neighborhood, in keeping with Pittsburgh traditions. We've been a part of the community for a long time, almost a decade and a half, and we've seen things change greatly during that period. The future promises to be even more swiftly changing, and an equally adept advertising and communication medium is needed. SquirrelHillNews.com, on the Internet, can be, will be, that medium.