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One of the easiest ways to localize your site is by taking advantage of the variety of local services available. For example, aside from helping companies set up Web sites and offering to place banner ads, many local newspapers now also feature online shopping malls. StarNet, the Web version of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, Arizona, for example, offers this option. For an initial setup fee of $3,800 and monthly fees starting at $99, entrepreneurs can establish their Web sites and also be prominently featured on StarNet's shopping mall, eshoptucson.com. The home page of each participator is linked directly to the online mall, which is viewed by a whopping 248,000 visitors every month.
Koz, a Durham, North Carolina, company that creates and empowers online communities and marketplaces, also partners with newspapers to build local shopping portals that in turn allow merchants to build co-branded Web sites. Koz's paradigm, which is being used by more than 400 local newspapers, works like this: Koz sets up an online marketplace or mall for the local newspaper, and then the newspaper's adverstising sales force resells Koz's Web-site-creation services to local advertisers and companies. Koz then establishes a Web site dedicated to local entrepreneurs. The cost to those business owners? Less than $100 per month.
You can also reach local customers via local portal sites, which consumers use to find community information. Ticketmaster's Citysearch Inc.'s Citysearch site, for example, offers local guides to major cites worldwide, focusing on entertainment, restaurants, services and shopping. It also provides companies a way to target local customers. For example, entrepreneurs can be listed on Citysearch's Yellow Pages for about $35 per month or work with the company to build their own comprehensive Web sites-costs start at $1,000, plus a monthly fee of $500. Other local portals include Yahoo! Get Local and Digital City, a unit of AOL.
"Intelligent entrepreneurs are doing everything they can to meet the needs of their local customers," says Polachek. "They're launching promotions on their Web sites to reach local customers, doing e-mail marketing and even allowing their customers to set up appointments for their services on their Web sites." In other words, succeeding locally depends highly on how effectively you get the word out to customers. No big surprise there.
Melissa Campanelli is a marketing and technology writer in Brooklyn, New York.