BuyMichLocal: A Business Directory With a Twist
Michael Sacha worked as a multimedia account rep for companies like Gannett and Yahoo, where he helped businesses place ad campaigns that went across print, mobile, social, and online platforms. Working with both national agencies and local companies, he grew frustrated with what he saw as a bloated, inefficient way of doing things. He wanted to launch a leaner, social-driven business directory that solved those problems, but that also incorporated a Groupon-like daily deals feature and user feedback and reviews similar to Yelp.
In October, he achieved his goal with the launch of BuyMichLocal.com.
Though this might seem a simple hybrid of successful features that have made other companies giants in this space, Sacha says the difference is his site’s dedication to exclusively promoting homegrown businesses and services. Users sign in with their Facebook accounts to offer reviews and endorsements of local establishments. “With other large review sites, a lot of people go faceless and unnamed,” Sacha explains. “Our reviews also post to the user’s Facebook page, which makes it a more personal recommendation.”
Businesses can chose from packages that range from $30 to $150 per month to become members of the site. They’re then issued user names and passwords and an assortment of online tools that allow them to run daily, weekly, or monthly deals, as well as surveys and analytics. BuyMichLocal also offers a mobile loyalty app available for all smartphones as part of CardStar, which allows users to buy and use deal coupons. Sacha hopes this will make it even easier for consumers to support Michigan businesses while they’re on the go. Eventually, Sacha will roll out an online store stocked with Michigan-made products.
BuyMichLocal, based in Royal Oak, MI, is an entirely bootstrapped affair staffed by a team of six marketing consultants from across the state. Sacha hopes that the relative lag in technological sophistication in Michigan will benefit BuyMichLocal. He says a lot of Michigan companies are way behind in terms of tech, which has sparked a lot of early curiosity. Eventually, Sacha would like to roll out similar business directories in other states.
“We’re doing a lot of outreach, and the response has been great,” he adds. “We’re perfecting the business model in Michigan, but we’re really excited.”