Group Marketing: Benson – Omaha’s Quirky Family

Part 2 in our series looking at how Omaha’s cultural gems band together for group marketing.

Teresa Gleason started Polecat Communications in Benson in June 2015. She loves her little office there because “Benson is like a little family.”

“Everyone knows each other and everyone looks out for each other,” she said. “I’m one of many small independent business owners here.”

This camaraderie led Benson business owners like Gleason to pool resources and take advantage of group marketing. Benson has leveraged several initiatives to help boost its brand:

  • Events
  • Partnerships
  • Group advertising

Arts, Entertainment & Dining

Anchored on the west end by The Waiting Room, one of the city’s premier music venues, Gleason credits some newer restaurants for opening Benson to a new audience. But she said live events also are a major factor.

“Benson Days and the Boo-Bash, where businesses open their doors for trick-or-treating, are both really popular.”

She also credits First Friday – a tour of art galleries — with drawing positive attention to the business district.

“First Friday is incredibly helpful, especially from an arts and entertainment perspective.” The district has also hosts the Summer and Fall Showcases for the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards.

Despite their “quirky” natures, Benson’s entrepreneurs use group marketing effectively. Even in a highly diversified neighborhood, they still work together toward a common goal – increased profits for everyone.

Partnerships – Another BID Success

One of the original business improvement districts when it was established by the city in 1977, Benson leadership revived the organization in 2010.

Former state senator Shelley Kiel provides staff support (as well as a good dose of public service experience) for current co-chairs Glenn York (Benson Podiatry) and John Larkin (Beercade, Jake’s Cigar & Spirits, St. Andrew’s Pub).

The First Friday of the month meetings at the Benson Community Center are well attended by a wide range of stakeholders and it’s where the energy for teaming up on the next initiative started.

Group advertising success

“It’s common here to not have gigantic marketing budgets, so a group of us got together to run an ad in The Reader,” she said. “If I had taken out a little ad by myself it would have been lost in the noise of all the other ads.”

Benson businesses banded together to create a “Benson” page in The Reader. A top local marketing and PR professional, Gleason and the Mint Design Group (the creative sauce behind one of Omaha’s premier international events) led the effort. The ad draws people to the neighborhood and benefits Benson businesses as a whole.

“It’s now part of a common goal,” Gleason said. “People coming here will help all of us.”

With the headline “Eat. Drink. Shop. Live. Create. Benson,” the ad also helps define Benson’s brand not only as entertainment district, but as it’s own mini-community alive with diversity and business incubation. Advertisers range from service businesses like Parlour 1887, Benson Podiatry and Benson Law to entertainment offerings like Lot 2, Beercade, Ted & Wally’s and the little gallery or retailers like Cake By The Pound and Jane’s Health Market.

“A stepping stone”

 Gleason said buying the ads as a group has been a “stepping stone” toward more cooperation among Benson business owners.

“We get a bigger bang for our buck,” she said. “The more we work together, the more we can reach people.”

They continue to brainstorm for ways to draw more attention and people without changing what’s most appealing about their neighborhood.

“Benson has a quirky nature,” Gleason said. “People kind of do their own thing. It’s a welcoming environment for the arts. Nobody wants to see it homogenized.”



Facebook vs. Google, Adwords Click Rates, 3 Pack Changes and more

Top 5 Social Media Monitoring Tools

A review of Awario, Brand24, Mention, Hootsuite and Brandwatch. [Search Engine People]

SEO Quickly, Then Correctly

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress in the SEO optimization journey. [Search Engine Journal]

SEO in 2017 and Tying in with Content

Technical, tracking, links and social media/PR point to the changes this year in SEO. [State of Digital]

Google 3 Pack Tests

Clicks for driving directions and phone calls go deeper. [Blumenthals]

Mysterious Fred Update Hits Low Content Sites Hard

Google won’t confirm the Fred update, but come low-content sites saw a 90% drop in traffic. [Search Engine Land]

Google’s Share of All Search Grows to 80%

As search grows 23%, Google takes it out of Amazon and with dominance in mobile, even as Yelp and Amazon are predicted to have the largest percentage increases. [eMarketer]

Facebook Dominates Display Ads

As ad revenue grows 15%, Facebook’s share grew 32% on the backs of Google, Twitter and Yahoo. [eMarketer]

State of Searcher Behavior in 23 Remarkable Stats

Starting with an estimated 40-60B Google searches per month, a treasure trove of search behavior. Only 3.4% of clicks go to Adwords. [Moz]

Vision, Collaboration and Events

How the Old Market Works Together

Group marketing lets you increase the impact of your marketing by working as one entity, not as competing individuals.

“Group marketing is a way to get exposure at lower costs,” says Troy Davis of Curb Appeal Salon in the Old Market and president of the Old Market Business Association. “It takes the microscope focus off one business and puts it on a neighborhood.”

He notes the Old Market has an enviable diversity of businesses, yet they all benefit from group marketing efforts.

“We have 150 businesses as eclectic and diverse as you can think of, so the trick is to find the glue – the common denominator,” he says.

With so many different businesses and property owners, the Old Market collaborates on a number of fronts:

  • Digital Presence
  • Collaboration with the Downtown Improvement District
  • Branding Vision
  • Events

It’s a lot for OMBA’s volunteer leadership to manage, but it’s exciting to see how far collaboration can go.

Digital Presence

Despite having so many different “cooks in the kitchen” as it were, the Old Market has an enviable, unified digital presence, starting with a signature domain name – – and a web presence that’s been online for over a decade. Credit goes to OMBA leaders like Spaghetti Works’ Shelly Stokes and Tannenbaum’s Jeff Jorgenson for recognizing this need early.

With roots in the former Firehouse Dinner Theater, one of our earlier offices until Upstream Brewing Company took the building over, PIoneerMedia got involved helping the Old Market’s digital presence when the Old Market’s Facebook page needed to have its ownership transferred to OMBA control.

After that success, we helped build not only as a mobile friendly and up-to-date web presence, but also a membership tool that helps with OMBA sign-up and allows members to post content directly to the website and the Facebook page. The website has 2-3 times the traffic of any suburban shopping district in Omaha, according to Alexa, and the Facebook page boasts over 73,000 fans, powerful platforms for Old Market promotions.

Partnership with the Downtown Improvement District

Helping to manage the digital presence and a close partner of the Old Market Business Association, the Downtown Improvement District provides invaluable support. Helping the Old Market helps all of downtown. Executive Director Holly Barrett and Communications Director Christina Randall are too frequent presences and leaders at OMBA meetings.

Branding Vision

As the 2nd most sought after tourist destination in the state, the Old Market is a cultural gem. With the advent of “entertainment districts” under state law, a much easier process when the area involved is controlled by one entity, Troy and Holly are now leading the effort for the Old Market to envision its long-term brand as Omaha’s “arts district”.

With dozens of galleries and the original First Friday Art Walk, art and the Old Market have been synonymous since the early Old Market pioneers first converted old warehouses into galleries, restaurants and shops.

The OMBA had an overwhelming success with the launch of the Old Market Art Project, created in response to the M’s Pub fire. Businesses, foundations and individuals from across the community helped raise the funds for the Art Project. An international selection of art was juried and the top selections became banners to cover the fencing around the rebuilding at 11th & Howard Streets.


Live events are one of the best group marketing efforts the Old Market employs.

First Friday is one of the Old Market’s most successful recurring live events. Held the first Friday of every month, this event celebrates local creativity by inviting the community to visit the neighborhood’s galleries and other host businesses to view art and meet artists. It’s not only art galleries that get involved in First Friday – for example, Ted & Wally’s ice cream shop recently hosted an origami display from a local artist for a First Friday event.

“One particular event may not be every business’s demographic,” Davis says, “but hosting creates bigger publicity and a benefit greater than you can imagine.”

One of the biggest draws to the Old Market nicer weather is the weekly Farmer’s Market. With a large roster of vendors and enthusiastic support from the neighborhood’s businesses, this event draws crowds who oftentimes linger to check out the Old Market’s shops and eateries.

There are two other signature events that are really starting to grow in the Old Market:

Toast of the Old Market and Food Day Omaha: A combination event on the non-Husker football Saturday in the Fall (Sep. 30 this year), Food Day Omaha is the “Earth Day” of food, running alongside the Farmers Market. Immediately after Toast of the Old Market starts with live music street festival on 11th Street with specials and mini-events around the Old Market.

Trick or Treat the Old Market: On the Sunday closest to Halloween, this family event features candy stations for kids, specials across the Old Market and the largest book giveaway in the city, done in conjunction with Metropolitan Community College and Metro Transit.

He says group promotions, as a whole, provide “long-term benefits that are real.” Businesses not willing to participate in group marketing miss out.

“People get so focused on their own business, but they need to widen their gaze and look at the bigger picture,” Davis says.


Small yet mighty

And it isn’t just about advertising.

Like the Old Market, businesses in the Benson and Blackstone neighborhoods are small with limited marketing funds. But that doesn’t mean their voices are limited. Find out more about these two areas in our next installements.

When businesses work together to keep storefronts up to date and match an area’s “feel,” they become part of a larger, promotable “personality.” Midtown, Aksarben and Dundee are good examples.

By combining resources, such areas gain competitive advantages in the Omaha marketplace.

The real benefit of group marketing, Davis says, is that “everyone benefits.”

Do you want some help to develop a group marketing plan that maximizes your resources? Let us help you as we’ve helped so many other groups.

Behind Google’s GYBO: Get Your Business Online

The small business initiative from Google

Potential customers increasingly turn to the Internet for information that leads to purchases.

“Where should we eat dinner tonight?” “Where can I buy culinary lavender?” “When my relatives come to town, where should they stay?”

In other words, people consult the Internet to decide where to spend their money.

So it hurts if you don’t have accurate information online to help customers find your business. And it really hurts if it’s inaccurate on Google, the country’s top search engine.

According to StatCounter, Google was nearly 87% of the combined (desktop and mobile) search market in March 2017. Bing came in 2nd with slightly over 6.5%, followed by Yahoo at 5.5%.

About half of small business owners find inaccurate information online about their operations, says Stephanie Cislo, a partner activation manager with Google. Such misinformation can range from locations to phone numbers and from endorsements to product lines.

The foundation for getting your business information correct on Google resides with your Google My Business (GMB) listing – a Google presence on Google Maps that nearly every public-facing business in America has, whether they planned it or not. Google will create a GMB page for you. It’s up to you to claim, complete and verify it.

Stake their reputations

“Businesses with complete listings are twice as likely to be considered ‘reputable,’” Cislo says.

Today’s consumers expect businesses to be accurate online, and if they’re not, they wonder why.

“Only 37 percent of businesses have claimed their listings on a search engine,” Cislo says. “Businesses should update information including photos, holiday hours, phone number, etc. Businesses can do this by claiming and verifying it so an owner or manager can keep it updated.”

To claim and verify your business isn’t as mystifying as it sounds. And if you can’t do it yourself, it’s easy to get help.

Start at

“Get Your Business Online (GYBO) is the perfect place to test the waters because it’s free and it takes about 10 minutes,” Cislo says.

Go to and look in the top right corner for the “Check My Business” blue button.

“We offer guides and lessons at to help businesses walk through the steps. Or businesses can find a local partner through our website that can help them one-on-one.”

Pioneer Media is an Official City Partner and is one of the top Google My Business verifiers nationally. That means we partner with Google to help local business owners connect with more customers online. We guide you through the process and equip you to monitor online activity in an uncomplicated way.

We are happy to instantly verify any Google My Business listing without the hassles of a phone call or postcard. Just choose “Verify Later” near the end of the GYBO process and then contact us here.

According to local search guru Mike Blumenthal (aka the institutional memory for Google’s local search efforts), the GYBO effort first rolled out in Texas in 2011 after first being introduced in the UK and Canada in 2010.

The initial (and still ongoing as far as we can tell) partners included chambers of commerce, Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and the Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE). That’s how PIoneerMedia got to partnering with the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, along with a good group of other chamber members, in promoting a digital marketing series in 2016. No word yet on what that looks like in 2017.

The GYBO initiative has evolved and embraced “lovers of all things local”. According to GYBO, Google believes “local businesses are vital to America’s economic future. In fact, small businesses comprise half of the U.S. GDP and create two-thirds of all new jobs. . . We believe every small business should be found online and we offer the ability to do this through Google products like Google Maps–for free.”

Since 2011, GYBO reports helping 327,000 businesses online, with 240 workshops and 3,000 partnerships formed.

In today’s connected world, it pays to be connected to your customers. Let GYBO and PioneerMedia make sure that connection is accurate.

April 2017

From the edge of the Great Plains

Dear Content Marketers:

In this month’s Content Marketing Newsletter, John Heaston and I decided to spotlight keyword phrases and their value in your content marketing. In the essay, Link Your Content to the Real World: An Overview of Keyword Phrases and Their Rewards, I look at the research we should do for each of our Pioneer Media clients.

We then turn our attention to 12 ways to mess up your content, the surging importance of LinkedIn publishing and four ways to expand your audiences

If there’s a topic you want us to address in this newsletter, let us know. We’ll share the best material we find with you and your colleagues.

We’re grateful for your efforts and creativity. All our best this spring to you and yours.

Thomas Gunning

Content Marketing Editor

Link Your Content to the Real World

An Overview of Keyword Phrases and Their Rewards

By Thomas Gunning

Pioneer Media Content Marketing Editor

Keyword research is the process of identifying the words and phrases real people use to find products and services linked to your client’s line of business.

You not only uncover what terms they use, you can develop and use data like how many times a keyword phrase was used in a specific period of time.

You’re expected to create a list of keyword phrases for each of our clients at Pioneer Media Inc. Here’s an overview of the factors involved as you begin your keyword research and planning:

  1. Search engines have evolved. Instead of combing content for individual keyword phrases, today’s search engines make semantic, or intent-based, searches. So the importance of intent and context has skyrocketed. As a result, today’s content is even more focused on searchers and their intentions.

For example, people make different kinds of online queries these days. Instead of “Omelets in Omaha,” you now might ask, “Where are cheap omelets in Omaha?” Or, “Omaha’s good brunch places.” Although you don’t specify “omelets,” today’s search engines link omelets and brunch. So select keyword phrases with semantic searches in mind.

  1. Ask yourself, “What are the most common phrases prospective customers would use to find me?” Consider whether the keyword phrase is relevant to your website’s content. Will searchers who use that keyword phrase find what they seek on your client’s site? Will the website provide information and services that meet their expectations?
  2. Always look for natural opportunities to place key word phrases in your content. Use your keyword phrase every 150 to 200 words. If it’s natural to use it more frequently, that’s fine.

But don’t let it seem like you forced a particular keyword phrase where it doesn’t belong. In fact, if it’s consistently hard to insert your keywords, take a step back and review your content. It probably doesn’t fully address the points you want to make.

  1. Consider the likely impact of similar phrases. “Recurring furnace maintenance” might be superseded by “periodic furnace inspection.” Even spelling differences can affect the number of visitors. “Handset” might be your client’s preferred spelling, but some potential customers might spell it in two words, “hand set.”
  2. Include effective calls to action. Don’t make your prospects struggle. You should assure they know to call a toll-free number, download your demo or visit another part of the website.

The following links describe the processes, technology and rewards of keyword research. I’ve put them in what I consider to be their order of relevance:

So where do you begin the actual research? The following resources can provide you a range of information about the use of keyword phrases:

It’s not uncommon to head straight to Google, but WordTracker and others can give you new insights. SEMrush also provides overlooked keyword phrases because you can access its data base of more than 95 million keywords.

Properly chosen, the insertion of keyword phrases helps your content spotlight the message you want communicate. They will help drive traffic to your client’s site. Importantly, they will bring prospective customers there, not just random visitors.

12 Ways You Screw Up Your Content Marketing

In recent end-of-year CMI B2B research, 89 percent of respondents say they use content marketing. But only five percent rated their content marketing strategy as “very effective,” while 64 percent label it moderately or minimally effective, says Sujan Patel, writing for the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) website. Clearly, a lot of us could do much better than we have. Undercutting your content marketing is easier than you might think. Here are a dozen ways you could sabotage yourself and your client’s content marketing.

LinkedIn Publishing Trends Every Marketer Must Know

If you want your content to be noticed, you should pay more attention to one particular social network, and it’s not Facebook, says Susan Moeller, business development manager at BuzzSumo. LinkedIn has seen explosive growth in the number of articles published. It also plays a growing role in content distribution for articles published on other domains. For some topics, LinkedIn is the most important network for social shares. The number of LinkedIn users also is growing. It reached more than 430 million in 2016, Moeller notes.

4 Proven Content Marketing Strategies to Expand Your Audience

The spreading of content over the internet has caused today’s consumers being more industry-, product- and brand-aware than ever, notes Rohan Ayyar of E2M, a digital marketing agency based in India. Brands accept content marketing as one of the most effective ways to attract and keep customers. And while it’s clear content marketing is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, your content needs to reach a critical mass of audience before you can segmenting or profiling them based on their intent or behavior. Let’s explore four fundamental strategies you can use to build and keep a bigger, keener audience.