Do SASK is a personal project I started developing in January, 2017 to show Saskatoon audiences what using a professional copywriter and content writer could do for their business success. This post is about the short journey I’ve taken with Do Sask, which initially began as a testing ground for Saskatchewan-based hyperlocal marketing tactics, to provide detailed insight for local entrepreneurs on how this method can benefit their marketing strategy.
Many large companies use a marketing mix with traditional media integrated into the budget (nobody can deny that Saskatoon radio has a great following), but my budget limits me from using it at this time. This helps me understand and empathize with the challenges micro and small business clients face when marketing themselves.
Let’s quickly define hyperlocal content marketing:
Hyperlocal is your immediate community. Hyperlocal content marketing targets the people in your immediate community through well-researched keywords, blogs, photos, and social media that is specific to the location and interests of the community.
Simply put, Saskatoon is a hyperlocal community.
How Do Sask Started
I was having a hard time explaining what Writerburg Content + Copy does for small business owners as a creative entrepreneur. Do Sask began as a tongue-in-cheek way to easily connect with others in Saskatoon without the awkward conversation about professional copywriting which I’ve described in detail here. Much like the development of Heart of Glass by Blondie (which is a pretty great story BTW), it was a way to ride the popularity wave of Pinterest DIY, list blogging, and maker-lifestyles. I found that local people seemed to connect more with the idea of Do Sask than they did with Writerburg, so it became a great way to put my face out there in the community.
In Saskatoon, folks are really interested in the arts and trade shows were full of artisan goods. So I took a risk and created Do Sask to show them how hyperlocal content marketing works on a restricted budget.
The Do Sask Brand
I created Do Sask with a very personal touch. Having a lifelong crafting addiction, an affinity for the arts and a predisposition for authenticity seemed to make the development flow. Instead of struggling to explain to people what I’m capable of creating, I was simply myself in all aspects of the website content writing stage.
— Greg Hagan (@Haganconsulting) April 4, 2017
It was easier for me to develop an identity around my personality and interests than my professional career. When you’re passionate about what you’re selling people will naturally buy in to that.
Do Sask was based on three major influences:
- When I lived in Calgary, I used to make Christmas gifts with a group of ladies called “Crafty Bitches”, so I brought a bit of that sassy, subversive flavor into the development of the brand’s voice.
- As for the workshops, I was influenced by my brother, Todd, who is the ultimate cool guy and a public programmer for adult makers at Telus Spark. They do projects like molecular gastronomy and the art of coffee bean roasting, to name a few.
- And there’s a site called itsdatenight.com that offers something similar to Calgary’s young, single crowd. (They tend to stick to promotional events over arts and crafts.)
Some people really didn’t like that I was starting to conduct art workshops when I wasn’t “a professionally trained artist”. I won’t argue that I’m not professionally trained in crafting. Do you know many crafters who are? But I know how to get projects done and all the pieces needed to create a great event.
I’m a doer. I’m a crafter. I’m a communicator. And these are parts of me that no one can argue against.
Do Sask is about Connection
On the DoSask.com home page, you’ll get this brief explanation: Do Sask “creates unique events and blogs that let you know where you can do experiences you’ll remember in Saskatchewan”. Everyone could use more connection to their local community and Do Sask helps folks find ways to get out there in ways that are easy and fun.
I decided not to spend too much time on creating the foundation content for the site (i.e. home, about, services, etc.) because it was more about the blog, events, and social strategy. However I do plan on going back to revise and revamp this area when time permits.
Hyperlocal content marketing strategies often get stuck online, so my main goal was to make Do Sask very personal and real — and I started getting it out into the community before it was ready. The key strategy is meeting followers and fans face-to-face in the physical world (referenced in the tweet below). You’d be surprised who shows up when you book an irresistible event that they want to be at.
— Barry Davies (@TOMORJERRY) April 28, 2017
Pick 10: A Strategy for Content Contributors
Asking for help was a big part of the Do Sask hyperlocal content marketing strategy. Listening to customer feedback and watching how people engage with content on Facebook has influenced the things I write about, so I don’t always have to base my articles on keyword research. My private Facebook group members have been pretty good about sharing events, so I have been monitoring their engagement, saving photos they share with me, and doing loads of research on local activities.
Back in January, I approached local aspiration blogger of Our Collective Muse, Maygen Kardash, about potentially collaborating. Lucky for me she took the opportunity and ran with it to deliver a short article on her favorite vegetarian food in the city. That inspired the idea of asking locals to choose ten of the best things about Saskatoon each week.
The latest blog titled “Pick 10: Spring Day Trippin’ from Saskatoon” has reached nearly 15,000 people (and counting) overnight with over 50 shares and tons of comments. Most of the reach has been organic (unpaid) through folks sharing with their friends. However about 4,000 views were paid reach through Facebook boosting.
Engagement is still touch and go at this early stage, but if I consistently produce articles as good as Day Trippin’, Do Sask has the momentum to go mainstream.
Measuring the Impact
Since its inception in January, Do Sask has become its own beast. I have published 11 original blogs on Saskatoon-related activities, hosted 6 unique events around the city, grown to nearly 700 Instagram followers, over 350 members in the private Facebook group, had a television appearance on CTV Saskatoon and a sponsored blogging opportunity.
Churning out this much hyperlocal content has been anything but a breeze. I’ve definitely struggled with delivering new ideas every week as I am still managing Writerburg’s client base, job searching, and launching Social Media Breakfast Saskatoon.
At the beginning stages of Do Sask one of my goals was to have Tourism Saskatoon share a post to their fans. This past Friday night, they finally did!
Every event I have hosted has used social media sponsored ads rather than traditional advertising. (Although both of my sold out workshops with the Habitat for Humanity ReStore Day and the Modern Woman Show & Exhibition had their own marketing budget.) When I ask my attendees to tell me where they heard about Do Sask on the feedback form they check either social media, or word of mouth.
My Indicator of Success
It’s always good to look back on metrics, analytics, and goals achieved. However for me the biggest encouragement was meeting a new person over coffee, chatting about what we do for fun, and hearing her response… a verbatim of my geeky things to do article.
I asked her where she had heard about those geeky things to do and she told me that her favourite comic book store, Amazing Stories, had shared an article about it the other day. I told her that I wrote that blog and that she made my day, but really that comment made this whole project worth it.
Do Sask proves that hyperlocal content marketing works! It gives value to the people you want to reach and influences the spread of your ideas in your immediate community. It helps people get to know you and your business before they’ve even met you. And it’s an invaluable method marketers should experiment with more often.
Do Sask has proven that Saskatoon values original content with a hyperlocal focus. People are hungry for exciting things to do and they love new ideas that help them connect with others right at home.
If you’re a small business owner struggling to find the right strategy for your niche, feel free to use the Do Sask method to grow your following. It’s not easy and it takes a lot of time, but the end result can be very rewarding.
How are you planning on implementing these hyperlocal marketing methods into your marketing plan?
Do you have a specific question relating to your hyperlocal content marketing tactics? Contact me.