As most of you know, I just returned from a month-long road trip to Colorado. While the main reason was to visit my sister, it was also to take photos and relaunch my business under a new name and business model. So as I promised before I left, here is my story . . .
This is why I love to travel across this country.
I have a soft spot for downtowns, Main Streets, store fronts, parades, and nostalgia. I love small-town communities, quiet neighborhoods, practically everything that’s off the beaten path.
I’m not really sure why. Perhaps it’s because of my hard-working, blue-collar entrepreneur father.
Growing up, my parents always seemed to understand the value of family, and the importance of organizing life around friends. I can’t tell you how many weekends I spent just hanging out with my parents and their friends, weekends filled with board games and jigsaw puzzles, a good game of hearts or spoons, and food. Gosh, we loved to eat! Seriously, we would be planning the next feed while we were still eating!
Where did those days go?
Everything my parents gave to me, I was desperate to provide my own boys. But times change, life changes, and I never found a way to completely replicate it. Oh, I’m sure my boys would say they had a great childhood, but I know it wasn’t the same as mine. It wasn’t quite what I’d wanted for them.
But they’re grown now. I’m a divorced empty-nester building a new life. You might think I’m back at it, looking for those small-town days I remember. And, if I’m being honest with you, that’s certainly a big part of it. Exploring new places, making new friends, rediscovering small-town America; that, my friends, is what it’s all about.
Three years ago, I started my business with this in mind. I wanted to find a way to guide small businesses in a social media world AND satisfy my craving for the idyllic pace of yesteryear. And I found it in Destination Main Street. Through my career, I’ve spent a lot of time helping small businesses. It all began when I was a young 20-something and an old college professor asked me to come work with her as a marketing consultant at the Small Business Development Center at PSU-Middletown.
Then life happened. I got married and raised a family, while substitute teaching. But when the time came to go back to work, that same college professor asked me to come work for her again, only this time for the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at HACC. I quickly became the go-to person for social media at the Institute, and it was during those seven years that I started seeing how small businesses could really benefit from social media.
I wanted to bring back the small town, personal feel for these businesses and start to tell the story of not only their shops, but also the towns they represented. That’s when the Facebook page Destination Annville was born. In February of 2011, I started Destination Annville as a page where I could tell the stories of Annville’s businesses and people, share events, and maybe – just maybe – bring people into my little home town.
Little did I know that a wonderful community of volunteers felt the same way, and decided to really turn it into a thriving and bustling little town… propelled through social media. I knew then that advocating for small business was my calling, but when the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies was cut from the budget at HACC, I found myself out of work.
After working for a local ad agency for two years, I was still yearning to get out on my own. That’s when I started my own business, Picture Perfect Marketing Solutions, focusing on social media strategy and management. I began to travel more, visiting small towns and Main Streets to tell their stories, and so Destination Main Street was born.
What started as a side project to Picture Perfect Marketing Solutions has taken on a life of its own. Of course, I’ll continue providing social media strategy and management for small businesses, and those Main Street business owners will recognize an entrepreneur who gets them, who speaks their language, who understands their customers, who knows what it means to be a neighbor first.
And, thanks to some amazing technology, I’ll be doing it from some of the most interesting places across this great country, sharing it all with you: the charm, entrepreneurial spirit, work ethic, and friendly atmosphere that defines the best of America.
I’ll admit that I don’t quite have the balance down pat. Technology is a marvelous thing, but it can pull us into our own private pinholes, where we see only what we want to see, to the point where a family at the dinner table can’t have a conversation because everyone is checking their phones!
My hope is to live life – and document life – with technology and social media enhancing, rather than replacing all there is to experience.
So while I work on my new website, I invite you to join me on the following social channels where I share stories of small towns and business owners and provide strategy, tips, and news in the world of social media.
In my next blog, I’ll be explaining a little more about the kind of work I do. The number one question I get from folks is, “what exactly is it that you do, anyway?” I can’t wait to tell you!
In the meantime, what questions do you have about social media for your business? I’d love to answer your questions. Would you like me to visit your Main Street or business district and share your town’s story? Use the comments below or drop me a note!