http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/07/25/town-to-create-new-web-site-to-lure-customers-downtown


Danville Express

Newsfront - July 25, 2008

Town to create new Web site to lure customers downtown

Site will include all shops, restaurants and services in Danville

by Meghan Neal

Your average local should have no trouble listing several restaurants in downtown Danville, but ask them to name some retail shops and you're more likely to get a blank stare.

To help put it on the map as a viable shopping destination, the town will establish an all-inclusive Web site, listing every retailer, restaurant and service in Danville. It will link to the individual sites of each business.

"There needs to be one place where it's all there," said Dennis Erokan, president of The Placemaking Group, a marketing consultancy. "This can be the gateway."

The council voted last week to set aside $30,000 to create the new site. The site is part of the "Shop Local First" campaign established by town staff, local businesses, the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Discover Danville Association in order to boost business, starting with downtown.

There is a perception that shops in Danville are expensive. But experts say the town can use this view to its benefit.

"While there is a perception - and it's a perception across a lot of people - that the stores in Danville are a little bit towards the high end, they like that. It differentiates that shopping experience," said Erokan.

"They think of it as one of the more stylish downtowns in the area," he said.

That's where the new tag line comes in: "Shop Danville...In Style Every Day."

Still, the challenge with unique, independent shops is the names aren't as recognizable as national chains seen in many malls and plazas. The Web site will help customers remember the Danville shops, the town hopes, attracting customers who would otherwise to go Walnut Creek or San Ramon.

The town also hopes to educate residents about shopping locally, said Jill Bergman, town economic development coordinator.

"More of their dollar stays within the community when they spend it in the community," she said. "Especially in this economy, it's definitely something you want to try and put a heightened awareness about."

All advertising, marketing and publicity material associated with the Shop Local campaign will refer back to the site, which will act as a focal point. It will link to existing Web directories and business sites like Discover Danville and Danville.com.

"The more sites the merrier," said Erokan, explaining that it's not a question of competition: The important thing is that they link back and forth. This helps with search engine optimization; in other words, it helps make the site more "Googleable."

It generally takes about a year for a site to climb the ranks of Google but the process can be expedited by continuously updating the site with new information and making sure it is well-linked, said Erokan.

Ultimately, the Danville Shop Local site would have a comprehensive calendar that includes events and news from all the shopping centers in town. There is no URL yet; the town is still choosing the company to create and manage the site.

"The marvelous thing is, this is an area that people like to go to already," said Erokan. "Our goal is to make that happen a little more often."

The town hopes to have the site up and running in time for the holiday shopping season.

Contact Meghan Neal at 837-8300, or mneal@danvilleweekly.com

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