The once-prosperous mill town of Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania has struggled to adjust to the digital age. Since the mills and the jobs evaporated, the tiny hamlet of about 10,000 has said many goodbyes to residents and businesses over the last few decades. However, Bristol may be down, but it’s far from over.
Little did the town know that it was going to become the star of season two of The Small Business Revolution -- Main Street. The series highlights and celebrates the vitalness and continuing relevance of small business. The Deluxe Corporation providing a $500,000 business makeover to a main street in a lucky small town down on its luck.
Earlier this year, viewers cast nearly one million votes to select Bristol Borough for the transformation; the cash, though, is only the beginning.
Led by marketing expert Amanda Brinkman and Shark Tank entrepreneur Robert Herjavec, the borough just outside of Philadelphia is going to go supernova before our eyes. The immediate world will be watching (and learning) as the series streams on Hulu and the Small Business Revolution website.
“Bristol Borough is an amazing community,” Amanda says. “There was a time when they had an unfair, negative reputation. We’re excited to get in there and tell the story of who Bristol Borough is today, and shed some of those misconceptions. The people there are just phenomenal. These are hard-working Americans who love their community and want to see Bristol Borough succeed. We want more people to experience that great community, so we found opportunities that would help bring Bristol Borough to that next level. There was already a renaissance going on there, and we just helped add fuel to that fire.”
With an army of small business experts and marketing mavens from Deluxe Corp. behind them, the little town that could is going to go from zero to infinity, in the course of eight new episodes.
One of the weak links in the chain and a considerable challenge for the team: online presence and ecommerce marketing.
“These businesspeople didn’t start their business because they couldn’t wait to figure out ecommerce,” Amanda says. “They started their business because they love a certain kind of clothing, or they loved delivering a certain kind of haircut at the barbershop. They had a passion for the business that they were running. The marketing piece [that we bring] is the key to helping their business grow. We loved to be able to bring that expertise to the table so that they can get back to doing what they love about running their business.”
Amanda and Deluxe Corp. assists small businesses with logo design, website development, email marketing and more. And, of course, when it comes to business and entrepreneurship, Robert from Shark Tank knows his stuff -- and shares it here. Some people may not know that he has built and sold several IT companies to major players such as AT&T. In 2003, he founded The Herjavec Group, which became one of North America’s fastest-growing technology companies.
“So much of what you are doing in a small business is intangible,” he says. “You don’t get a lot of glory, and a lot of people don’t notice it. But when you have a new brand -- and Amanda and Deluxe show up with a new logo or new letterhead -- it’s so life affirming. It makes you feel really good, and it makes your customers feel great. It’s a great moment.”
An effective online presence is just a part of the lifeblood that Robert and Amanda bring to a business that needs to survive and thrive in the digital age.
“In each of the individual businesses we worked with, technology was a big part of it,” Amanda says. “It was about definitely making sure they had a great website. And more importantly, making sure they were findable online. If you are a brick-and-mortar store, being online is as important as having a sign in front of your store. So we really worked with them on their website, their social media, keeping in touch with their existing customers, and things like email marketing. Technology really played a role in making sure that if they had the web presence, that promised what you would experience if you were in their store as well.”
“Sometimes, all you need to know is that they’re out there,” Robert says.
Season One saw 10,000 town nominations, but the honor went to Wabash, Indiana (you can watch that story here).
“We have such a passion for Wabash,” Amanda says. “We actually returned and shot a special episode, where we checked in on the businesses and the community as a whole to see how they were doing. To be honest, we haven’t lost contact with them. We talk to them almost on a daily basis. They are not only having a huge influx of new visitors who have seen the series and want to visit Wabash, but new business are starting there. That’s what we love -- to shine that spotlight on the importance of small businesses and how vital these Main Streets are to these small communities.”
The revolution-- and its resulting evolution -- continues. Until October 19, 2017, you can nominate your favorite small town for a Main Street makeover. To qualify, the town has to have a population of 50,000 or less. The winning town will receive a $500,000 makeover from Deluxe, which will help revitalize the community and six of its businesses. It will also be the star of an eight-episode web series. Fame -- and fortune.
Click hereto find out more about The Small Business Revolution -- and to stream season two!