Cathy Klein, owner of the River Hill Garden Center, works with… (photo by Mark Gregory of…)
For a growing audience of web-savvy shoppers, it’s vital for a business to have an online presence. That’s part of the philosophy behind meetlocalbiz.com, a website launched in the summer of 2011 that spotlights Howard County businesses and offers weekly deals.
Todd Sachs, a Highland resident with real estate experience, and Joann Francavilla, an Ellicott City resident who serves as a consultant for nonprofits and previously owned a local bakery, combined their backgrounds in business to develop the web venture.
“We decided to spearhead this initiative to buy local,” said Sachs, the company’s president. “We team local business with the community surrounding them through an online presence ... a video directory.”
Membership is open to locally owned Howard County businesses, as well as those in surrounding counties and reaching into Washington, D.C., and Delaware.
The site is designed to attract consumers who want to find information about businesses online, watch videos related to the businesses’ goods and services, and read reviews by others, according to Sachs.
The site’s weekly local deals provide 50 percent to 90 percent savings, Sachs said, adding that businesses exhibiting good customer service should earn repeat customers from the experience.
“The coupon helps nudge consumers in,” he said. “Then the business does their part ... that’s the benefit.”
Businesses that join meetlocalbiz.com are able to track activity on their own microsites within the larger site. There also are opportunities for business development, according to Francavilla, meetlocalbiz.com’s director of membership.
“The company offers monthly networking events, education events, social media marketing training and goal setting,” says Francavilla.
To join, there’s a one-time $549 video fee to produce a 60-second video of the business, and there’s a $49.99 per month membership fee.
Meetlocalbiz.com has also partnered with Howard County nonprofits, such as Healthy Howard, Success In Style, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Make-A-Wish of the Mid-Atlantic, and the Green Building Institute.
Meetlocalbiz.com Corporate Headquarters & Training Center, 9691 Gerwig Lane, Suite F, Columbia. 443-276-7201. www.meetlocalbiz.com.