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.