When co-founders Julia Seebach and her husband Scott Smithline created the online directory in 2004 to promote some of their favorite local shops, they had no idea how popular it would become. Independent businesses loved the idea of a locally-run website highlighting their neighborhood, and the company quickly developed a unique set of complimentary marketing services they could offer. Today the company offers a combination of online, print and in-person promotion available on a subscription basis, and the list of member businesses is growing quickly despite the economy.
Local residents, too, liked the website. By offering content written by locals, including reviews, blogs and event listings, the site attracted a loyal following of residents and became an online hub for the community. “Our brand and our website became so popular,” said Seebach, “that people adopted the name and began referring to the region as The Grid.”
In order to build on this success, in early 2009 Seebach incorporated and hired her bother-in-law Adam Smithline as CEO to help the company prepare for national expansion. Since then the company has invested heavily in all areas of the business as it lays the groundwork for franchising. According to Smithline, “Our success in monetizing local content and local marketing is fairly unique, and our rapid growth proves that our model works.”
After considering the importance of building a memorable brand as part of the growth strategy, the company opted for a name that fits better in more cities. “We had good brand equity in the old name,” said Smithline, “but we’ve already launched one city as Downtown Grid, and the response so far has been fantastic.” The local directory, featuring events, shopping tips and Sacramento restaurants can be found at http://www.downtowngrid.com as of today.
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About Downtown Grid: Downtown Grid introduced the concept of offering marketing services to locally-owned companies on a subscription basis in Sacramento, California in 2004. With a unique portfolio of online, print and in-person marketing channels, the company has attracted hundreds of members while delivering real value to the communities in which it operates. The company’s website, downtowngrid.com, offers locally-generated content including shopping tips, upcoming events, restaurant reviews and community resources.