Sunday, September 12, 2010

Editor's Note: 'Let's Get Mutual'

(Posting here to keep the 'scroll fatigue' in check)

While reading about J2's anniversary, we came to realize that many of the businesses we feature here are often newbies like us. Whether this is coincidental, or because 'like attracts like,' we're not sure, but we do feel a certain kinship with newcomers, perhaps because we get sincerely excited when vacant storefronts become businesses, and because a new place needs a bit more help in getting the word out, especially in challenging times.

So, why us? Why now? How are we any different than the neighborhood coupon mailer which mails a stack of coupons to 10,000 mailboxes every month for a $400 monthly investment, or a $300 listing and description in a local guide you've never heard of, or a newspaper that will give you a business card sized ad for $180 per week, or even an online newspaper that'll offer a button sized logo ad for hundreds of dollars, and you'll just have to cross your fingers and pray that someone will want to click on it?

At one time or another, we have actually sold all of the above, and we were pretty unhappy- not b/c we weren't making a lot of money- but because our customers, the very small businesses that we solicited day in and day out, were not the happiest of campers, and they rarely renewed. Thus, we responded by wiping the tears of frustration from our eyes, getting lumps in our throats when we saw 'no solicitor' signs, and kept trying to sell ads. Like many sales reps, however, we ended up missing our quota and losing our job by no fault of our own enthusiasm. It was the economy, stupid. Or maybe it was the product? Or just us?

We created The Pipeline, which initially began as a weekly e-newsletter called Street Scene, sent to members of the local chamber of commerce back in April of 2009. We expanded in July of 2009 to welcome new supporters. On July 13, 2009 we changed names from Street Scene to The Pipeline, and the chamber became our first advertiser, something which would have never happened if it weren't for the awesomeness and support of Paula Barrington, the now former executive director of the chamber who confided in me enough to say that many of her members enjoyed reading the e-newsletter each week. Others wrote in testimonials, and our future was born. And we're just as shocked as you that we're still here too. Really, really shocked.

Why are we still standing? Why haven't we stopped? For starters, we are the most economical deal around town, but beyond that, we're blessed with a loyal, local, engaged, and growing readership. These readers have a vested interest in what's happening on and within the borders of five major streets that are the Wicker Park and Bucktown communities--- and, even better, many readers are admitted 'hood rats' who enjoy spending a lot of time (and money) here too.

Could your business or association use a few more hoodrats walking through its doors, or at least being exposed to your message and brand? Are you cool and independent and offer something off-the-beaten path like we do? If you fit our vibe, or at least sense where in our hearts it's coming from, send me an email at streets(no space)of(no space)wicker(at) if you'd to arrange a meeting or conference call to discuss how you can help to grow your business through supporting ours. Let's get mutual. And, Go Bears too.

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