What’s So Great About Social Media?

You’ve probably heard a lot about social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube… the list goes on and on – and on! Maybe you even use on or more of these platforms personally. But if you represent a business or organization, it’s imperative you understand what social media means within a professional context and more importantly – what it can do for you. Over the next few months, we’ll be diving into the topic of social media and sharing with you simple explanations, step-by-step instructions, and easy tips to help you decide what to do.

What’s So Great About Social Media?
Social media may seem confusing. Businesses often wonder if they should have a social media strategy or how to “do” social media. We’re going to tell you a secret that may help you understand exactly what social media is and what it means for your business. Social media is a way of communicating. Just like newspapers, telephones, and televisions revolutionized their own societies by creating a new way to share ideas, social media is making waves by helping people talk to each other in a different way. This is the first key to understanding the power of social media and engaging online in a way that positively impacts your bottom line.

The REAL Advantages of Social Media
1.) Real time – share your thoughts instantly. One great example of how to rock this concept is restaurants who share their daily specials. Add an enticing photo taken with your mobile device and time your news so people see it in time for lunch and you’ll have locals banging down the doors. Over time, this can create demand farther and farther away. If you visit Kansas City once a year, but every day see delicious photos and menus from a barbecue restaurant on Facebook – chances are they will earn your business next time you are in town.
2.) Real people – social media feels more real than traditional marketing. This means people are more likely to read and trust what you say – because we care about and trust people more than we do corporations. There are dangers inherent in this, too, and the transparency of social media doesn’t mean you can be sloppy, rude, or inaccurate, but the power of talking with real people behind the businesses and groups you might like to shop at, visit, or join creates buyer loyalty, more sincere engagement, and — more return business if you do it well.

3.) REAL-ly fun – it may feel like work at first, but trust us, social media is an arena where you can really have fun. The lower costs mean you can try new things and be creative. Learning what “works” and gets attention online lets you play mad scientist in the social media world. Take photos, make videos, share funny puns about your products – the sky is your limit! Playing with your social media presence may breathe a creative spark back into your enterprise that you never knew you had lost.

Next month: Picking the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

RedTire – Matching Businesses and Business Owners

RedTire is a new program from the KU School of Business that seeks to Redefine Retirement for business owners in rural Kansas communities.

At Love Small Town America, we consider ourselves matchmakers of a sort. We match businesses with employees via our job listings, we match potential citizens with new hometowns, and we match tourists with communities full of attractions that suit them to a tee. So, we were interested to learn of another matchmaking enterprise in our home state of Kansas.

When small town business owners age, they often shut the doors, taking with them the assets, experience, and wealth that business represented in the community. There are many reasons why this happens – but a lot of it comes down to basic economics – supply and demand. A new program called RedTire has been launched by the University of Kansas to offer one possible solution.

The RedTire program promotes their service as allowing business owners to redefine their retirement. The program matches rural business owners seeking an exit strategy with graduates from Kansas universities.

Candidates from both sides – businesses and potential successors – apply through the RedTire website or are referred to the program by third parties.

Ideally, the end result will be contract negotiations between successors and current owners to purchase existing businesses or make other arrangements to transition ownership.

The program is free and aims to help Kansas communities create transition opportunities to keep businesses alive and thriving. RedTire is new, so there aren’t any results to share, but there are an increasing number of attempts across the country to address this issue. We’ll be watching to see how RedTire progresses – so check back for an update!

We can’t help but think what an interesting complement this program – or something like it – provides for the Rural Opportunity Zone program. Theoretically, someone could move to a ROZ county, gaining access to tax credits and tuition reimbursement and possibly also create their own job by buying a business by engaging with RedTire – making the kinds of initiatives that are popping up across the state even more powerful. The future is taking shape before our eyes and there are definitely some interesting possibilities on the horizon.

What do you think? Is RedTire the kind of program that could make a difference?

Interested in applying?

RedTire Contact Information:

Wally Meyer
Lawrence, Kansas 66045
(785) 864-7583
wmeyerjr@ku.edu

Charlotte Tritch
Lawrence, Kansas 66045
(785) 864-7563
ctritch@ku.edu

We’re Hiring! Join our Team

You’re passionate about small towns – friendly neighbors, community pride, an entrepreneurial spirit. You live in or near northwest Kansas. You’d love a part-time job with a flexible schedule. You drive yourself to meet goals, find creative ways to engage with people, and are a friendly go-getter. Does this sound like you? We’re accepting applications for a contract sales associate to bring communities, businesses, organizations, and schools online as members of Love Small Town America. You’ll be a part of a dynamic team collaborating across the country, have access to professional quality sales and marketing materials, and work with qualified leads and have the flexibility to prospect for your own. This position is half commission-based, so you control the amount of opportunity this provides. Day travel within the area is required but we’ll work out the details with the right candidate. What we’re most interested in is finding the right person to join our team.

Title: Sales Associate
Department: Contract Sales Division – Western Kansas
Reports to: VP of Sales – Grainfield, Kansas

Love Small Town America (http://www.lovesmalltownamerica.com/) seeks highly motivated part-time outbound sales associate based in Kansas to cultivate relationships with small towns and bring them on as customers. The ideal candidate will be able to work a flexible, remote schedule be passionate about small towns, and be a dynamic, friendly face for the company.

Job Objective: 
Responsible for sales activities, from lead generation through close in assigned territory. Develops and implements agreed upon sales plan to cultivate qualified leads, make presentations, close sales, and facilitate customer satisfaction and growth-oriented relationships.

Responsibilities:
– Responsible for the sales of Love Small Town America online representation to towns and counties, and their businesses, community organizations, schools, etc.
– Demonstrates effective communication skills and product knowledge that allows sales associate to give effective in-person and virtual presentations of Love Small Town America’s services.
– Calls on qualified leads and sets up presentations.
– Understanding of pricing models, including Shared Success program.
– Demonstrates the ability to carry on professional conversations with business owners and decision makers.
– Assists in the implementation of company marketing plans as needed.
– Assists in creation of effective sales proposal presentations.
– Assists in development of client relationships and referrals.
– Maintains accurate records of all sales and prospecting activities in the company system.

Job Specifications:
– Ideal candidate will be from a small town or currently live in a small town and demonstrate an understanding of small town dynamics.
– Willingness to travel and collaborate with a remote team of professionals.
– Technology literate with 24/7 access to high speed internet and a personal computer.
– Knowledge of economic development a plus.
– Commitment to helping small towns to prosper.
– Outgoing, highly self-motivated, goal-oriented personality essential to success.

Love Small Town America offers a creative, dynamic work environment committed to building a better future for America by bringing small towns and small town businesses and organizations online.

Deadline:
Send your resume and qualifications to Dan Godek, VP of Sales, at Dan@LoveSmallTownAmerica.com by August 7. This position is open until filled with rolling review after that.

About Love Small Town America
Love Small Town America is building a brighter future for small communities across the country. We are dedicated to preserving small town values while competing in a high tech world. We offer small towns and their businesses, organizations, and schools a professional web presence in a nationwide network.

Love Small Town America is a comprehensive website that catalogs and publicizes small town businesses, events, real-estate, and more, serving residents and reaching a vast online audience with the kinds of details they want to know about.

Along with a listing on the website, member towns and businesses receive a professionally designed and maintained webpage and promotional services. When you join Love Small Town America, you get more than a website: you join a network. For a low annual fee, small towns, businesses, organizations, and schools receive a dynamic presence on the web that shares their true personality with the world and they tap into a powerful nationwide network dedicated to helping one another prosper. Love Small Town America. Discover what’s waiting for you. 

Cruise, Shoes & Barbecues – A Small Town Celebration Worth Remembering

Classic cars are the "Cruise" part of the Cruise, Shoes & BBQs fundraiser in Grainfield, KS. The car show draws participants from all around.

This post is brought to you by Nicole Godek, CEO and Founder of Love Small Town America. 

My husband has a very creative mind. The ideas he comes up with typically don’t pan out, but it’s always entertaining to hear what he’s thinking. On occasion, one of his ideas works really well, however. Cruise, Shoes & BBQs is one of them.

Living in Grainfield, we often hear people say, “Remember Ag Days? They were so fun!” Fair-style rides. Parades and marching bands. Vendors in the park. Tons of people coming from all over. The image of Ag Days is still fresh in my mind. As I shared memories of that event with Dan, the wheels started turning on how to bring people to Grainfield again. Dan’s passion for BBQ seemed like an easy start. Then we added the rhyming words “Cruise” and “Shoes”. And Cruise, Shoes & BBQs was born.

Some of the volunteers behind the Cruise, Shoes and BBQs fundraiser in Grainfield, KS.

The first year Grainfield’s Harvest Market hosted the event with help from family and friends. The response was amazing! But we needed more hands to grow it. So, the Grainfield Community Development Committee took over and Cruise, Shoes & BBQs will celebrate 5 years next Memorial Day weekend!

This year marked Cruise, Shoes & BBQs’ 4th anniversary. The fundraiser is always hosted over Memorial Day weekend and this year, the two days were packed with entertainment. Friday evening featured a social in the park, vending from the BBQ teams, and a live performance at the historic Opera House (hosted by the Lions Club & Opera House Committee).

Saturday started with cars, motorcycles and a boat cruising in for the namesake Car Show. The barbecue competition is a big part of the weekend, and the aroma of BBQ in the air easily draws in a crowd! Horseshoes began around 10 A.M. on Saturday as did the kids’ activities.

Smoke pours out of the competitors' area where teams craft their best barbecue entries to be judged at the annual BBQ competition.

After a full day of fun, the barbecue competition awards presentation began at 3 P.M. with the buffet at 4:30 P.M. The buffet draws a big crowd since everyone wants to sample the BBQ teams’ pork and brisket. Then we rounded out the day with a dance. This year we offered a live performance from Uncle Turtle and the Live Action (a Gove County favorite) and it was a big hit.

A clown was on hand as part of the kids' activities at the annual Memorial Day weekend fundraiser. The clown was such a hit, he has already been booked for next year's event!

If we could have picked the worst day out of the year for weather, I think we did. There are only so many things you can plan ahead for and weather is not one of them. But despite the 50mph gusts and 100 degree temperature, everyone had a positive attitude. We are grateful that Marvin Beougher let us move the live music and dance into the American Legion. That saved us…and the many people that stuck around after the buffet.

Festivities carried on long into the night after the BBQ competition with a dance. The Grainfield American Legion generously allowed the event to move inside due to high winds. What a wonderful show of community support and fellowship!

My favorite part of the event is probably seeing so many people in Grainfield having a great time. We’re starting to make a name for ourselves and see people return year after year. It reminds me of “Cheers” when everyone yelled “Norm!” It’s those personal relationships that mean the most.

This year we added a clown and the kids loved him! He was amazing and his wife painted some incredible face art. (We’ve already booked them for next year!) We’re making improvements for next year, hoping to make it a Saturday/Sunday event instead of Friday/Saturday. We lose a lot of people to the high school state track meet (helpers and attendees) so we’re hoping to gain them back. Plus, by moving the event to Saturday/Sunday, BBQ teams and volunteers won’t have to take off work Friday.

An authentic native American tipi was on display during this year's 4th annual Cruise, Shoes & BBQs fundraiser in Grainfield, KS, withstanding high temperatures and even higher wind gusts.

I think people should come out to our event because you never know what you’re going to see in our small town. Last year we had a pig dancing on the dance floor. This year we had an authentic Tipi in the park (that withstood the wind!). Who knows what you’ll see next year. But guaranteed you’ll have a great time. And 40 years from now, hopefully we’ll hear people say, “Remember Cruise, Shoes & BBQs? That was so fun!”

-Nicole

 

We are always growing our network of small towns, organizations, and businesses. If you’re interested in joining Love Small Town America and getting an affordable home on our small town network, e-mail us to get started or learn more here

Walking a Path Toward a Healthier Future

Love Small Town America supports communities fighting cancer.

This year's Walk-A-Thon For Health currently seeking sponsors for August 2012 event.

One of the things that we’re so proud to share with small towns is a strong sense of community spirit and mutual support, through the good times and the bad. Every year, millions of Americans struggle with cancer. Associated costs for treatment, like hospital stays, transportation, and other costs can become nearly as overwhelming as the illness itself.

Walk-A-Thon for health provides a path to support neighbors with cancer, raising funds Saturday August 11, 2012 to support Gove and Trego County residents who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The Walk-A-Thon will take place Saturday August 11, 2012 from 5:30 PM until 11:30 PM. The Walk-A-Thon is currently seeking sponsors for the event. In 2011, the charity fundraiser was able to raise more than $33,000 that stayed locally to help individuals battling cancer and was able to raise another $10,000 that went to fund cancer charities.

This year, the Walk-A-Thon for health plans to donate proceeds to Walk-A-Thon for Health cancer patients, Ronald McDonald/Other Designated Hospital Stays, KU Med-Center cancer research, KU Med Center heart research, Special Olympics (local people), Child Passenger Safety (local children).

Cash donations or in-kind donations to support the 2012 Walk-A-Thon for health are appreciated. Contact Kay Goetz for more information.

 

Kay Goetz

Gove County Corporate Chairman

5042 E. Road 130 S

Park, Kansas 67751

(785) 673 – 4304

Featured Organization: Grainfield’s American Legion A Place for Patriotism, Fun

A Flag waves 24/7 outside the Grainfield American Legion

A flag waves 24/7 outside the Grainfield Kansas American Legion. Image courtesy of social_d via Creative Commons License.

At the Grainfield, KS American Legion (George M. Scott Post 301), visitors can count on three things: food, fellowship, and fun. The American Legion’s webpage on Love Small Town America highlights the heritage of the local chapter.

Grainfield’s Legion Post in Grainfield, Kansas was named in honor of George M. Scott who died October 15, 1918 in France during the First World War. He was the first Gove County soldier to die in the war and is buried at the Gove Cemetery. The Legion was chartered in December of 1920 and currently has 64 members. This organization honors Veterans by providing a Color Guard at funerals and at Memorial Day Services.

Special events offer opportunities for community members to enjoy fellowship. On the last Wednesday of each  month, the American Legion hosts a Stag/Stagette supper. Bingo enthusiasts get their weekly fix each Sunday. A special Father’s Day Dinner celebrates dads. All events are listed on the Grainfield calendar and visitors are always welcome.

The American Legion building is a point of pride for the organization, known for being clean and well kept. It’s the perfect spot to host small town gatherings in Grainfield, where, in the words of American Legion representative Marvin Beougher, “Everybody knows everyone else. It’s very friendly.”

It’s worth a trip to Grainfield to visit the American Legion, where the flag flies outside 24/7 and visitors are always welcome in this friendly community.

Want the world to know about how great your group is? Businesses and organizations from participating Love Small Town America communities are eligible to be featured in an upcoming blog post. Get free publicity for your business, organization, or event as part of the Love Small Town America family. Contact us for more information! 

Love Small Town America – Weekend Edition (5/18-5/20/2012)

What’s going on in small town America this weekend? We’ve pulled a few events from our handy community event calendar so you can see what’s going on this weekend in your great small town – or one a few miles down the round.

Friday May 18

Happy Hour at Mainstreet Dugout (Grainfield, KS)

Start your weekend right! Bring in your Mainstreet Dugout refillable cup from 2:00-4:00 PM and get a refill for only $1 plus tax.

 

Friday May 18-Sunday May 20

Paint Sale at Grinnell Farm and Home (Grinnell, KS)

Dig a discount on a DIY weekend with a coupon for 10% off paint at Grinnell Farm and Home. The limit is 5 gallons – so you’ll still have time to relax once you get a coat on the walls!

 

Saturday May 19

Annual Spring Cleanup (Quinter, KS)

 

Sunday May 20

2-Man Scramble (Quinter, KS)

It’s a perfect day to spend on the greens at the 2-Man Scramble starting at 1 PM at the Quinter Golf Course.

 

Sunday May 20

Baseball and Softball Practices (Grainfield, KS)

Head out to Beougher Ball Field from 3:00-5:00 PM for a leisurely afternoon watching America’s pastime.

 

Sunday May 20

Bingo (Grainfield, KS)

Round out your weekend with bingo at Grainfield’s American Legion, beginning at 7:00 PM.

How will you show your small town love this weekend? Share your plans with us!

Don’t see the destination you had in mind? We are always growing our network of small towns, organizations, and businesses. If you’re interested in joining Love Small Town America and getting an affordable home on our small town network, e-mail us to get started or learn more here

 

Great Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

Even in a small town, life has a way of sneaking up on you sometimes. Some of you may already be prepared to shower the moms in your life with a day of special treatment, but for those of you who are just realizing that Sunday (May 13) is Mother’s Day, we’ve gathered a few suggestions that may make your last minute shopping a little less hectic.

1.) Give Mom the Night Off with Harvest Market
Women deserve to be pampered, but sometimes a thoughtful gift that will help ease the burden of a busy life can be just as nice – and even more appreciated! If your wife or mom is always busy caring for others – shuttling the family to sports practice, helping out with community events, and still juggling a household – she’ll appreciate a night off. Stop at Harvest Market in Grainfield and pick up the fixings for a family cooked meal – that you prepare. Not a cook? That’s ok – Harvest Market has party platters and barbecue (read more about Harvest Market) ready to go. While you’re there, snap up a bottle of luxurious body wash or scented soap and let mom take a soak while you round up dinner.

2. Give Mom’s Room a New Look with Grinnell Farm and Home Center
Is there a room in the house that needs a little extra love? Moms often leave themselves to last, so her bedroom might be able to use a little pick-me-up. Grinnell Farm and Home Center in Grinnell, KS is the perfect place to pick up a few remodeling essentials to help transform mom’s bedroom into a relaxing retreat. Through May 31, 2012 use their Love Small Town America coupon to receive 10% off a single purchase of paint up to 5 gallons. Add in a few brushes, rollers,  painter’s tape, and your helping hands to make this gift one mom will remember.

3. Make a Major Home Upgrade with J&J Carpet
Gifts can be practical as well as pretty! Who doesn’t love the sight of gleaming wood floors or beautiful stone tile? Mother’s Day might be the perfect reason to splurge on a home upgrade that will make mom smile long after Sunday. While you’re painting her bedroom, why not think about installing new flooring as well? Whether the whole house is overdue for new carpet, or she has a special spot in mind, J&J Carpet has what you need.

4. Surprise Mom with Special Specs from Kinderknecht Eye Care
Some things are cliches for a reason. Women love accessories and there’s no better time to upgrade eyewear than just in time to get a new look for long summer days. Old prescriptions just won’t do with sports games to watch, flowers to view, and sunsets to admire. New frames or sunglasses will keep mom’s eyes in style. Bring her to Kinderknecht Eye Care to pick out a new pair of frames. Their professional staff will help with all your questions and their great selection will satisfy even the pickiest mom.

5. Time from Little Hoot’s Daycare
Mom loves her kids, but sometimes she would love if she had a second to take a nap, get a manicure, or run some errands. Give the most precious gift of all – TIME – by arranging for mom to get some of it to herself. Little Hoot’s Daycare in Grinnell, Kansas can help with short or long-term solutions ranging from drop-in or after school daycare to full-time. Nutritious snacks and educational activities for the youngsters will help mom to breathe easy and enjoy her time to herself knowing her children are in good hands.

We hope one of these ideas sparks your imagination. Share your Mother’s Day plans and photos with us on our facebook page

Moms – which of these gifts would you like best? Leave a comment with your favorite!

 

Featured Business: Harvest Market

Owner Dan Godek knows the community of Gove County comes together at Harvest Market.

Love Small Town America is the online home for some of small town America’s best businesses. We’re giving them a chance to share with the world just what makes them so special. Please welcome our very first featured business to the Love Small Town America blog: Harvest Market

Where can you find delicious BBQ meats, household essentials, and a dead rat all in one, convenient location? Residents of Grainfield, Kansas know that Harvest Market is the place to find all of these things – and more!

At Harvest Market, household essentials line the shelves alongside quirky surprises.

Grocery stores are often the heart of small towns, where citizens gather to share the latest news and pick up a loaf of bread. Grainfield finds this in Harvest Market – and a little extra.

Harvest Market has been in operation in Grainfield in some form or another since the late 1920s. Current owners Dan and Nicole Godek have updated the market with energy-efficient equipment and expanded product lines, keeping Harvest Market a viable part of the small town economy while respecting its historic tradition of serving the people of Gove County, KS.

The family-owned store has imbued Harvest Market with a lively spirit that draws in customers from all over the area. Slogans like, “Eggs, Tomatoes, Toilet Paper… Everything You Need to Decorate Your Favorite Neighbor’s House,” and “We Get Up in Your Grill,” are proof that grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a chore.

Shopping trips become lively excursions at Harvest Market with a little help from the local "wildlife".

Although Harvest Market does have eggs, tomatoes, and toilet paper (and produce, dairy, party trays, beauty products, beer, tobacco, and more), it’s their mouthwatering array of Harvest Market Brand BBQ meats that promises to make summertime special in Kansas. The sight of pulled pork, beef brisket, and BBQ beef fresh from the heartland have wrecked more than one carefully planned dinner menu, but we have a feeling no one is complaining.

Harvest Market brand BBQ draws customers from all around.

Owner Dan Godek draws inspiration from his own children (or maybe from his childlike zest for life!) and makes a shopping excursion to Harvest Market fun for all ages. A big gnome, little gnome, dead hand, and toy rat wander mysteriously about the store every day just waiting to be found. If searching for a toy rat doesn’t sound like your kind of fun, a carnival mirror is an oracle of truth that could provide the answer to whether you should place that candy bar or that bunch of bananas in your shopping cart.

Looking for a great deal?

Coupons rotate frequently at Harvest Market, so check back soon.

Harvest Market rotates coupons on their Love Small Town America site, so check back regularly for updated promotions. Through May 31, 2012, they are offering a bargain on sunflower seeds – perfect for enjoying outside as the weather warms up.

BIGS Sunflower Seeds are on special at Harvest Market this May.

What Does Harvest Market Love About Small Towns?

They’re quiet, peaceful, affordable, friendly, safe, vibrant, caring, and conservative.

What Does Harvest Market Like Best About Love Small Town America?

Harvest Market calls Love Small Town America their home on the web. But it’s more than just good business sense – it’s about good.

“The fact that Love Small Town America is doing good. It’s helping small towns. It’s helping small town businesses. It’s going to give back to its communities through scholarship and grant programs.”

Harvest Market will be giving back to the community themselves, as a sponsor of the 4th annual Cruise, Shoes, and BBQs fundraiser this Memorial Weekend. With food, beer, and fun, it’s a natural fit for Harvest Market.

Harvest Market's friendly grocery aisle gnome.

Do you shop at Harvest Market? Have you ever found the toy rat or tried Harvest Market BBQ? Let us know in the comments! 

ROZ Scholarship Applications Announced

You know how passionate we are about small town survival – and about the Rural Opportunity Zones program as a great way to recruit new residents to participating Kansas counties. That’s why we are so excited that the ROZ Scholarship Application is now open. We’ve been working with the Kansas Department of Commerce for some time now, and they agree that Love Small Town America gives small counties and towns the right kind of web presence. They have decided to offer scholarships to Kansas ROZ counties or towns within those counties to cover the cost of a 1-year membership on Love Small Town America. Can you believe that? Lucky ROZ applicants could receive a FREE webpage on LSTA as part of our network for a whole year. That is phenomenal!

This kind of support from state government is what makes us so proud to be from Kansas. We hope all the ROZ counties will feel the same and want to take advantage of the chance to join our network.

In the meantime, we put together a page on our site to help explain what the scholarship covers (and what it doesn’t), why you shouldn’t wait to turn in your application, and what the next steps are.

As always, we’re available to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

We’re so excited to realize that sometime this summer (fingers crossed) we’ll be joining a BUNCH of new communities to our growing family on the web. This means lots more exciting developments ahead, so watch our facebook page and twitter feed for the latest breaking news.

Links:

ROZ Webpage Scholarships

Joining Love Small Town America

Rural Opportunity Zones (KS Department of Commerce)