Mt. Airy got its first detailed look at how a new business association plans to help market local businesses on Tuesday. The new Business Association of Mt. Airy (BAM) will be staffed by two members of Mt. Airy USA and is a an initiative of that community organization.
At the first of three informational meetings, BAM’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Moselle explained a new website GoMtAiry.com will be created to help market member businesses and as a tool to attract tourists to the neighborhood. Moselle stated that having a “really good website” is what the association has determined to be the best means to “continuously give you marketing without having to constantly raise funds for traditional advertising.” Branding exercises were incorporated in the design.
In addition to a website, BAM will offer guidance in getting permits, certifications and grants. Members will get a chance to network with other local business owners and to receive member-to-member discounts.
The meeting offered potential members a chance to offer suggestions and ask questions.
George Butler of Butler Prestige Photography called BAM’s approach “A great concept.” He did want to know how the association intends to direct traffic to its website. Moselle offered assurances that a marketing plan was in place, and that excitement from future events could generate interest as well.
Charles Todd of Mt. Airy Custom Furniture wants the addition of an online discussion board feature to GoMtAiry.com. “It’s that interaction that makes websites worthwhile.” Todd said. Moselle expressed fears that people could leave negative comments which might hurt member businesses, but added that it’s something BAM would consider, .
The meeting’s Q&A session quickly turned into a lively discussion about best ways to integrate social media sharing tools into the GoMtAiry website, particularly in light of Google’s launch of its “Search plus Your World” this past Monday.
Mt. Airy USA’s Executive Director, Anuj Gupta offered up a guarantee for those who chose to participate, “We will treat your money as if it were our own.” He stated that the goal will be for folks to renew membership with the feeling that they received value for their contribution.
BAM hopes to attract greater numbers of visitors to the area with events like the highly successful Night Market, which was a partnership between Food Trust and Mt. Airy USA. “We think there’s more of that to come” exclaimed Gupta.
Mt. Airy’s new business association will launch as soon as the website is built. Moselle said that could be within the next two months.
Moselle laid out the payment structure for businesses. BAM will offer at multi-tiered membership plan, which she said will better allow businesses only to pay for the services they receive.
The lowest priced membership, Basic, will set participants back $300 – $420, depending on number of employees for the member business. A Basic membership offers businesses a listing on the GoMtAiry.com website, representation in a Mt. Airy “Welcome Packet” to new residents and inclusion in a monthly e-circular newsletter, which will be sent out to at least 3500 residents. Basic membership will also allow business owners to attend quarterly educational workshops.
While Moselle did not provide details as to what workshops are planned, she did mention that feedback was received indicating interest in social media and energy efficiency. Moselle noted that BAM’s workshops will include “a great partnership that we’ve just started with SCORE, that’s the Service Corps of Retired Executives.”
There is also a Basic Plus membership, which features additional listings on the website. Those who opt for this membership will have a business discount featured once a year as a “Deal of the Week” promotion on the GoMtAiry.com website, involving coupons visitors can print out and redeem. Moselle emphasized that this type of promotion is “not Groupon.”
First Fridays, Restaurants and Real Estate
The First Fridays package offers all the amenities of the Basic membership plus “Official Participation” in First Friday events. BAM’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Moselle announced that the association will be “taking on First Fridays”. BAM hopes to rejuvenate the recurrent event. The First Fridays package costs $420-540, depending on employee count.
The priciest memberships are those for Restaurants and Real Estate Brokerages. A Real Estate Agent membership has a fixed price of $360 and is similar to the Basic package.
The Business Association of Mt. Airy’s last informational meeting will be held 5 p.m. Monday, Jan 23 at Earth Bread + Brewery.